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John Reid still has the air of the thug about him. Jeremy Paxman very obviously hit a raw nerve with that "attack dog" comment last year; Reid's reaction was illuminating!

For someone in his position to so blithely ignore the legal implications of his tabloid gesturing [the Sweeney sentencing débacle, now this "caught the ring-leaders affair] is troubling in the extreme. And especially so from the man who is functionally supposed to be our Justice Minister.

A bright guy with just a little too much confidence in, and reliance upon, his brute political strength would be my verdict. A deeply worrying prospect as a Prime Minister, far less so as a Leader of the Opposition.

Reid might be wise enough to read the situation - that Blair will be around a lot longer than people think.

Hain, Johnson et al are salivating at the prospect of Blair's departure and so are not trusted. Prescott's soiled goods these days, although he's obviously not going to be made to walk the plank either.

Reid's an old fox and knows that loyalty pays. The others are jumping the gun and will forfeit position as a result. There's nothing like an external threat to strengthen the position of a Prime Minister. Here is Blair's Falklands Factor, and Reid's riding the wave.

I disagree with BorisforPM, and the Deputy Editor. The Tory party and the press have for too long assumed that the succession of Brown post Bliar will be a 'coronation'.

I think that Reid would be a much more credible and formidable leader of the Labour Party than Brown. This whole terror situation has enabled him to put himself in the public eye and give the perception (whether it is true or not is immaterial) that he is a tough guy who is taking on all the woes that the former NuLab Home Secretaries did not deal with. (Yes, of course it's rubbish, but it is the perception that counts).

This episode is not about Reid trying to become Deputy PM under Brown, it's a wonderful chance for him to show that he is a serious contender to Brown for the top job. The cynic in me wonders if that was what Bliar wanted - after all, he supposedly knew about what was about to happen before going on his holiday. To leave the oaf in charge was ludicrous - UNLESS he calculated that this was a wonderful chance for Reid to raise his profile and do some damage to Brown.

From a Tory viewpoint, I think that Reid would be a MUCH tougher proposition than Brown, who we could beat easily. However, from a viewpoint of what would be best for Great Britain, I have to say that I would much rather see John Reid in Number 10 than Gordon Brown.

I have to say its hard to try to prise me from my prediction of Gordon Brown as next leader and interim Prime Minister (at least to the next election...Cameron, if you want to win, start getting ready to fight with he Party and the country!).

John Reid is doing very well, taking charge and showing some leadership credentials (he really is). But Gordon Brown is a bigger heavyweight than Reid. For him, this is his inheritance. He wont let it go without a fight.

James, if I was a betting man (I'm not) I would still be putting my money on Brown to be the next PM. All I am saying is that Reid is probably the only other member of the Cabinet who could mount a serious challenge to him.

Yes, Brown believes that he was cheated out of the leadership by Blair. He believes it is his by right, and he certainly won't let it go without one heck of a fight. Should he not get it, the sulk he will produce will make Ted Heath's look pale in comparison.

Brown is still the front-runner, but don't right off Reid. As I said, from the point of view of the country, Reid would be (in my eyes) an infinitely better choice than Brown. From the point of view of DC, I think he would be a much tougher opponent to beat. In the end, Labour's desire to maintain power could well be a telling a factor - they have put up with Blair because he was the only one who could seriously prevent them from sliding back into 18 years of opposition. I don't believe, and I'm sure many in NuLab will soon start to see this too, that Brown can keep them in government.

Sorry - I meant to type 'write off' not 'right off'.

The fundamental question, surely, is whether the Home Secretary is fit for purpose?

"John Reid was at the centre of a gathering political storm last night as he was accused of jeopardising the trial of terrorist suspects arrested during last week's raids. The Home Secretary was accused of prejudicing a future trial after he had claimed that the police had caught the 'main players' in a plot to blow up airliners leaving British airports."

Dr Reid "joined the Communist party in 1973, leaving it to become a professional Labour party activist with close links to Neil Kinnock. He reaped his reward in 1987 when he won the ultrasafe seat of Motherwell North (now Hamilton North and Bellshill). He voted for Tony Blair as party leader in 1994 and by the end of that year was deputy spokesman on defence."

How does someone with a doctorate in economic history come to believe in Communism in 1973 when Stalin's Agrarian Policy for the Soviet Union, set out in a speech on 27 December 1929, was to "smash the kulaks, eliminate them as a class"?

The Ukraine famine of 1932/3, in which millions died, was a direct consequence of Stalin's policy of killing by category:

In 1973, Reid was hardly placed to deny all knowledge of Khrushchev's astonishing revelation at the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956 that 98 out of the 139 members of the Central Committee were shot on Stalin's orders in 1937 and 1938 - by definition, they were all dedicated Party members.

During his stint as Labour Party chairman in 2002, Reid was asked about the generous donation to the Labour Party by Paul Desmond, who had been a commercially successful publisher of pornographic magazines. Dr Reid replied:

"If you are asking if we are going to sit in moral judgment, in political judgment, on those who wish to contribute to the Labour party, then the answer to that is no."

Bob B - I wasn't trying to praise Reid. I certainly wasn't aware of his 'form' that you detail in your post, for which I thank you, which shows that he is NOT fit for office. (But then, how many of this shower are?)

I was pointing out that it is the perception that counts. Whatever his 'previous', Reid has come out of this latest terrorist threat looking good. We live in the age of image politics. As Tories, we should be storing up ammunition about Reid (akin to the history of his that you detail) to use against him should he take the crown. I still think it will be Brown, but we should not assume that.

The Kingmakers will be other agencies such as much Rupert Murdoch and the EU as the Labour Party. On that score Murdoch issues flattering statements about Gordon Brown's intellect with great regularity. Brown has probably promised the EU he will deliver the Euro as the price for their guarantee of BBC support, and of their influence over Murdoch in his favour.

However the deal is not in the bag yet.

Mandelson briefs against Brown in Brussels, and if Brown's lead in the leadership stakes were to slip, they might not fight all that hard to keep Brown in front. Although the EU would not want another Blairite playing hard with the Americans.

There is also the American pressure which is influential over Murdoch in particular. The Americans might well have their concerns over Brown, and be looking to lever Reid into pole position as an alternative. They would much prefer a Tony Blair loyalist, than the vagaries of Gordon Brown, who is almost an unkown outside of the Treasury.

The last few weeks have caused me to revise my opinion of Reid (re: leadership chances) rapidly.

Before, I thought he was a no-hoper because he has all the natural charm of a rottweiler that has just been poked in the eye.

Now, I can see that being appointed Home Secretary has allowed him to play the tough guy, as well as gaining a higher profile, which may well provide him with the springboard he needs to challenge His Gordship for the Labour succession.

Alan Johnson is the other credible potential challenger.

apologies for dreadful first sentence. advance the word 'much' to make 'as much as the labour Party'.

William, surely that depends on WHEN Bliar goes. If he waits until after November 2008 (which whilst unlikely, is not unthinkable) the Republicans may not have the White House. With Bliar so tied to the Bush administration, an incoming Democrat administration may well want someone NOT perceived as a Bliarite. (This may also apply to a new Republican administration, who would also seek to distance themselves from the disaster that Bush has been.)

Crikey William/Henry, is there a single thread that you can't crowbar an EU-related conspiracy theory into?

I imagine you'll have a field day with the Labour leadership election, given the opportunities for postal vote fraud as well!

I don't see Murdoch's influence as conspiracy theory. It is well known. It is also documented that he has acted as the EU representative in Blair's government (Lance Price in Guardian - mentioned in y blog occasionally you will not be surprised to hear www.the-tap.blogspot.com). It is also well known that a politician needs Murdoch's backing to stand much chance.

Where's the conspiracy? It's factual. No crowbar required. It glides into place. It's only conspiracy if you think that information not discussed except on blogs is by definition doubtful.

There is no doubt an unwillingness on the part of the main media to address the Murdoch issue. We don't need to observe any limitations to the facts that we know. I certainly won't.

Jon White - I am interested to know more about the US Presidential prospects if you know more details.

The last information I had was that Murdoch was backing Hilary Clinton, and so his usual trick of backing the next incumbent might be in play.

If say Hilary Clinton makes it to The White House, she might well be forced by circumstances to be a war leader continuing with the struggle against the Islamo-terrorists. They certainly won't be going away anytime soon, and while the American Public has tired of the Iraq war, it would only take another 9/11 to bring them right back into the 'let's go and geddum' mentality - whether Republican or Democrat.


Jon you say you're not a betting man but I will bet you £50 and give you 5-1 that if Reid and Brown stand against each other Brown wins.What say you?

it's a wonderful chance for him to show that he is a serious contender to Brown for the top job.
He was born in 1947 so he's actually 3 years older than Gordon Brown - the next General Election will be probably on EU Election day in June 2009, he will be 62 by then, his past of course is wide open to attack on a number of matters if he becomes party leader and in England his accent would work against Labour just as William Hague's accent did in the South of England and Midlands.

Malcolm, surely you know me well enough by now that I shy at the idea of giving you 50 quid! Not taking your kind offer, even at 10-1, but thank you for making it!

I still think Brown will get it. But feel that Reid is the only other person within NuLab that COULD stop him. 'Could' and 'will' are different things my friend.

If say Hilary Clinton makes it to The White House
She probably won't even win the Democratic nomination, barring some kind of celebrity run such as Robert Redford standing or somehow the Republicans bypassing John McCain or Rudi Guiliani both of whom would wipe the floor with any of the current main Democrat contenders then I think a Republican Presidency almost certainly John McCain is assured, already the Democrats are tearing themselves apart on the issue of the War in Iraq and probably the Republicans will hold both Houses of Congress too.

just as William Hague's accent did in the South of England and Midlands.
That is just as William Hague's worked against the Conservatives.

William, sadly I do not know any more than yourself about what will happen at the next US Presidential election. My opinion is that despite Murdoch's backing, Hilary is too divisive a candidate. I don't think she will get the Democrat nomination. My outside bet on that one is the Kinnock plagiarist Joe Biden from Delaware. As for the Republicans, whilst McCain is the front runner now, I think that his age will be against him.

At the moment I feel that it's a real open contest.

UK: I think it shows John Reid sees himself as a challenger for the leadership, how popular he'd be with the party membership is another matter.

US: While the neo-cons may like much of the Bush administration, to the moderates only one member of that admin seems to really have the ability to be leader of the free World.... Condi for President!

Condi could well be the Republican choice, even though she has stated that she doesn't want it. (They all say that, don't they?)

Smart, a good communicator, and a good friend to Britain. If I could vote in an US election, she would be my choice.

Time for Blair to hand over to Reid at Conference and wrongfoot the Tories - then to use national security as the key issue to show the Conservatives more interested in logos and PR stunts than defending the nation.

Should look good - John Reid - experienced in Northern Ireland, Defence, Home Office versus Conservatives ith little or no government experience - why take the risk ?

Time for Blair to hand over to Reid at Conference and wrongfoot the Tories
Tony Blair wouldn't wrong foot anyone except himself and anyone he handed over if he did things that way, whoever he did hand over to would still be expected to face a Labour leadership election and whoever was elected would still be expected to be the Prime Minister and the Labour Party is quite capable of expelling someone who is a sitting Prime Minister, they did it with Ramsay MacDonald even though he was having to deal with a Hung Parliament.

"Time for Blair to hand over to Reid at Conference and wrongfoot the Tories - then to use national security as the key issue to show the Conservatives more interested in logos and PR stunts than defending the nation."
TomTom @11.40 presents a very credible scenario - however Reid's past leaves him open to attack.
What if there were a prolonged state of emergency with the country threatened by a continuing wave of terrorism as there was in NI? If there were to be a coalition government of national emergency to cope with the crisis, (i) who would lead it and (ii) how many tories would be in it?

and the Labour Party is quite capable of expelling someone who is a sitting Prime Minister, they did it with Ramsay MacDonald even though he was having to deal with a Hung Parliament.

They did not. Ramsay MacDonald was very close to Stanley Baldwin as Baldwin loathed Lloyd George and wanted to stop his Chancellor W. S. Churchill from allying himself with Lloyd George and toppling Baldwin - which is why Churchill never held office after 1929.

MacDonald was conned by H. M. Treasury and he and Snowden and Jimmy Thomas formed a National Govt with Baldwin's Tories - it was King George V who suggested MacDonald stay on as P.M.

Labour's split came because of the May Committee spending cuts and Mosley's failure to get support for his programme. So the split came because the Conference would not back Mosley and did not back MacDonald.

THe circumstances are completely different today. There is no economic crisis, and putting Reid in place would split the Conservatives.....not Labour...the main concern is keeping seats.

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