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October 19, 2011

Is James Purnell about to run for London Mayor?

I wrote a couple of months ago about the rumours that Labour were lining up Trevor Phillips to replace Ken Livingstone as their London mayoral candidate. Then, last month, it was rumoured that Ken would be ditched to make way for Alan Johnson.¬†Given Ken’s clear lack of fitness to hold public office, it’s hardly a surprise that such rumours persist, but given the mutual socialist inclinations that he and Ed Miliband share, along with Labour’s perennial reluctance to get rid of weak candidates, I remain confident that ‘Red Ken’ will still be Labour’s mayoral candidate come polling day.

All of that said, something very strange has happened today on the Betfair market for the London mayoral race. The chance of James Purnell – uber-Blairite and former Labour MP – winning May’s mayoral election has increased from 0.1% to 11.5% in the space of the last 18 hours. Put differently: his odds this morning were 1,000/1; they’re now in the region of 7/1.

In order for this to have happened, someone must have bet pretty heavily on Purnell. Does that someone know something we don’t?

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