And this week's elections are going to be...

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The Independent Online
Two critical elections this week will determine the way that the Labour and Conservative parties order their political fortunes. Labour MPs - sometimes called "the most sophisticated electorate in the world" (usually by themselves) - will decide on Tuesday who should chair the Parliamentary Labour Party in succession to Douglas Hoyle, who has gone to the Lords.

Nominations have not closed, but the battle seems likely to be between Roger Stott, 53, MP for Wigan and a former parliamentary private secretary to James Callaghan when he was prime minister, and Clive Soley, 58, MP for Hammersmith and a former front-bench housing spokesman. Some MPs are arguing that a woman should have the job, but there is no agreement as to who it should be. Anyway, it looks certain Tony Blair will signal privately his support for Mr Soley, thus securing his election.

The Conservatives will decide who is to run the party's 1922 Backbench Committee, the body that runs the election for party leadership. Sir Archie Hamilton, MP for Epsom, is the frontrunner, but the post is being hotly disputed by John MacGregor, the former transport secretary, and John Butterfill, MP for Bournemouth West. It is also probable that "wet" Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, MP for Wealden, will challenge, and there could be more right-wing contenders.

The new 1922 Committee will draw up the timetable for the Conservative leadership election. Present indications suggest he will be in place by late June or early July.

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