Labour set to have hard-line Jeremy as leader

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The more brickbats and insults hurled at the hard-line left winger Jeremy Corbyn, the more he seems to thrive as a candidate for the Labour Party leadership.

And the party is now in a state of jitters over the very real possibility not only that he could win the contest, but that he could do so in the first round.

And if the principal national opinion polls are correct, this is what will happen.

As the parliamentary party trembles at this prospect, Tony Blair has made his second major intervention, warning Labour will be annihilated if Corbyn takes the crown.

And what could well happen is that swathes of Labour back-benchers would be tempted to quit the party whip and form a splinter group, as happened with the formation of the SDP in the 1980s.

Some of those who made it possible for Corbyn to stand at all, to widen the debate even though they would not vote for him, must now be ruing their utter stupidity.

Chancellor George Osborne now seems to be the bookies’ favourite to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader, towards the end of this Parliament, challenged, possibly, by the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, even though Johnson’s popularity seems to be steadily on the wane.

But if you are of a gambling tendency, I would not recommend you risk your life savings on any one of those three. Because a new figure is emerging...

It is Liam Fox, who had to resign as Defence Secretary in the last Parliament over what many thought was little more than a peccadillo involving a friend of his.

Fox, an amiable character, is immensely popular on the centre-right areas of the parliamentary Conservative Party and he could guarantee a substantial number of votes from that quarter.

By my reckoning, when the time arrives, and if he can be persuaded to stand, he would easily outshine Johnson and prove a very serious threat to both Osborne and May.

When Fox lost his Cabinet post, it looked for a time as though he might have dished his political ambitions for the top job.

It is not looking that way now.