THREE prominent runners have surged forward in this month's hurdle chase in the Rumour Mill LSC chief executive stakes.
Our Deep Throat, never before known to gamble on his own revelations, is putting his pile on new runner Jenny Bacon, chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, and a formidable civil servant in the Days of Yore Departme nt of Education and Science.
Has it unnerved David "The Prof" Melville of the Further Education Funding Council? Not a bit. Still confident as leading favourite, he is running this one under the nom de plume "Tooth Fairy", suggesting that he knows where the pots of gold lie.
But the field really is closing in with serious contenders from the civil service pack as adverts in the press show the post as a nice little earner - permanent secretary status means dosh of up to pound;170,000.
Another prominent runner is Leigh "CB" Lewis, chief executive of the Employme nt Service. Just the job, say some close to ministers.
But then, number four in the frame is Nick "Learner's Lad" Stuart. Learner's Lad is sporting the colours of at least one minister. The LSC could be his prize if he doesn't end up running the whole Government shebang in the form o f the new DFEE Lifelong Learning Directorate when director general Roger Dawe retires.
Would the people who wrote in to Rumour Mill this month suggesting the following names please take this diary column seriously: Arkle, the Labour party, the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corp and Ken Ruddiman.
Interesting snippets to date:
NATFHE's miffed Mac "the Knife" Mackney is back on his horse, after a succssful appeal against last month's disqualification.
Roger Ward, who is now out of the race, has put his Hampstead home on the market for pound;1,000,000.
Pat "The Dame" Morgan Webb has edged a point up the ratings after getting herself and this perspicacious column mentioned in Private Eye.
A current outsider (but watch this one) is Bob Fryer, the policy director wit h the University for Industry and a consummate professional who has never even whimpered once when ministers massacred the original blueprint he was commissioned to write for the Learning and Skills White Paper and subsequent Bill.
David "Gibbo" Gibson, AOC boss, has also been seen cantering around the edges .
Some say he has sharpened his act with some top-ranking management training.
He has certainly been seen doing the after-dinner speech rounds with some gus to of late.
Dark Horse says: "If you really want to work out the list of front-runners in the Rumour Mill LSC chief executive stakes, bear in mind that an election is looming and that, for Tony B and David B, it's pay-off time - time to dish ou t the just rewards." Applications by April 28.
To be continued...
David Melville evens
Jenny Bacon 2:1
Leigh Lewis 3:1
Nick Stuart 4:1
Chris Humphries 5:1
Chris Hughes 6:1
Ruth Silver 7:1
Tony Higgins 8:1
Pat Morgan Webb 8:1
Geoff Hall 9:1
Bob Fryer 9:1
John Hedger 10:1
John Randall 10:1
Michael Scott 10:1
Bill Stubbs 10:1
David Gibson 15:1
Peter Knight 20:1
Michael Richardson 20:1
Judith Rutherford 20:1
Jim Scrimshaw 20:1
Diana Warwick 20:1
Heather Rabbatts 60:1