by Kevin Meagher
What were the betting odds a couple of years ago on Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron leading our three major UK political parties? As an accumulator, it must have been in the 500-1 region?
Okay, on her own, Theresa May would have been a decent outside stab for the Tories and Tim Farron had been on manoeuvres for a while, angling for the Lib Dem leadership while his more senior colleagues served in the coalition government, but Jeremy Corbyn?
The emergence of May/Farron/Corbyn seems so random because prior to the 2015 general election the firmament in all three main parties was brimming with political talent. There were plenty of rising stars and key lieutenants who seemed more plausible figures.
Although Theresa May quietly got on with the job of being a steely home secretary, it was George Osborne who dominated Cameron’s government, the obvious heir apparent to his friend and ally, David Cameron, with Boris Johnson offering a credible alternative choice. The smart money was one of them succeeding Cameron.
Equally, although Tim Farron had been assiduously courting the Lib Dems’ activists, his non-service in government meant it was just as likely someone who had been blooded in office like David Laws or Danny Alexander would have succeeded Nick Clegg.
While there were a veritable constellation of stars in the Labour universe.
The point is that all three parties had more obvious candidates waiting (im)patiently. There was an order of succession, a pecking order. Buggins’ turn, even.