The comments on a post by David Bartlett regarding odds offered by Ladbrokes for a handful of local seats at the next election (http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/2009/10/ladbrokes-odds-for-five-mersey.html ) were suddenly enlivened by a contribution from Cressington Lib Dem councillor Paula Keaveney (http://www.paulakeaveney.blogspot.com/ ).
In response to a gripe that the bookmaker wasn't offering odds on the Bootle constituency, Cllr Keaveney asked, "Wasn't there a rumour that Cherie Blair was going to be parachuted into Bootle [at the next election]?"
Cue a series of frenetic Facebook comments, astonished emails & urgent text & Twitter missives.
I phoned a couple of people whose antipathy to New Labour guaranteed a euphoric reaction to the very suggestion; the thought of a war criminal's wife & her minders being surrounded on Stanley Road by demonstrators was one they relished.
It's still a rumour. I spoke to a local Labour councillor today & raised the story with him. He rolled his eyes, said he knew nothing about it & declared that if there's any substance to the story, she'll be the candidate over his dead body.
Though hailing from Crosby (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/05/in-her-liverpool-home.html ), Blair could be sold to the local party as a local girl made good (yes, I know) with the Oldham Echo weighing in on her behalf for good measure. There would, of course, be no shortage of local opposition to her candidacy, not least from Walton's Peter Kilfoyle (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/07/true-fiction.html ).
Counterbalancing such talk, however, is the financial factor; as a QC, Blair currently earns at least four times the basic salary of an MP. Given her penchant for the trappings of wealth, would she really wish to take a considerable salary reduction?
Fuelling the rumour is the knowledge that sitting MP Joe Benton has yet to declare his intentions, leading some in the local party to speculate that the 72 year-old will hang on until after the election & then call it quits, allowing local councillor Peter Dowd to be anointed (the verb is intentional, given the long-standing stranglehold the old Labour Catholic Right has had on the seat going back to Simon Mahon in the 60s & 70s), the minor inconvenience of a by-election notwithstanding.
What can be stated with any certainty is that if the rumour solidifies into reality, the media circus will descend on Bootle in a way never seen before & every step of her supposedly regal procession through the seat on to Westminster will be punctuated frequently by many who rightly view her as, at best, a shallow interloper.