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Latecomer Silver makes good ground

Ian Nash reports on the latest stage in the wacky race to become the boss of the powerful learning and skills council

AS THE runners line up for this month's hurdle chase in the Rumour Mill LSC chief executive stakes, there are some fascinating additions, disqualifications and shifts in odds.

David "the prof" Melville, of the Further Education Funding Council, has been far more visible of late thanks to his "meeting my public" tours. And they're paying off, making him evens favourite for the cup. Mac "the NATFHE knife" Mackney is out, disqualified for for being a NATFHE success. Roger Ward fell off his horse.

But a new contender is Lewisham College's Ruth Silver. Currently seeking better Connexions, my deep throat "Dark Horse" insists she has ulterior motives for running. She's quietly playing her child psychologist ticket in a bid to run the Connexions mentoring scheme. She's entered the LSC Cup at a respectable 7:1. Can Silver be going for the double?

And Chris Hughes could not have been in Bondi Beach sipping FEDA coladas as claimed last month. Dark Horse assures me that he was holed up with Qualifications and Curriculum Authority headhunters who were desperate for a hapless victim to replace chief executive Nick Tate. Hughes is understood to have replied: "Tough job? Bill Stubbs as boss? No way." It seems that no one will go for the QCA chalice.

Former Lambeth authority boss Heather "Blair's fave" Rabbatts dropped further down the odds when she did not get reappointed to the QCA board.

Top chamber of commerce man Chris Hmphries is still with the front runners despite failing to rescue Britain's small-to-medium enterprises. And Tony "tricky" Higgins (running for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is edging up. Remember, he was once neck-and-neck with "the prof" to run the FEFC.

Plans have been dropped for a radical West Midlands jobshare between college principals Pat "the dame" Morgan Webb and Eddie "the cook" McIntyre. Some say The Dame has gone cool on the job. But Dark Horse reckons the cook is running his own book with the dame at a promising 5:1.

Local government's Neil Fletcher is now jockeying for position. Millbank is pushing Dobbo Dobson, anxious for a consolation prize in the Capital Mayoral Stakes. Ken "the unruffled" Livingstone has quit the race, certain of defeating Millbank on May 4. Clearly, anything can happen as they line up at the starting line.

To be continued...

David Melville, evens

Chris Humphries, 4-1

Chris Hughes, 5-1

Ruth Silver, 7-1

Tony Higgins, 9-1

Pat Morgan-Webb, 9-1

Geoff Hall, 10-1

John Hedger, 10-1

Leigh Lewis, 10-1

John Randall, 10-1

Michael Scott,10-1

Nick Stuart, 10-1

Bill Stubbs, 10-1

Peter Knight, 20-1

Eddie McIntyre, 20-1

Michael Richardson, 20-1

Judith Rutherford, 20-1

Jim Scrimshaw, 20-1

Diana Warwick, 20-1

Heather Rabbatts, 60-1

Herman Ouseley,100-1

Derek Draper, 500-1

Victoria Beckham, 1,000-1

Pudsey Bear, 1,000-1

Jeffrey Archer, 1,000-1

Keith Wymer, 1,000-1

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