There's a whiff of something special in Downing Street this week.
Could it be the smell of freshly-cooked apple pie coming from the kitchen of Number 11?
Perhaps a good and kind neighbor is busy baking a little farewell gift for the occupier of the more famous address next door: Number 10.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is – after 10 long years – giving up the most sought-after address in British politics and heading out the door.
And no one has sought after this address more than Blair's neighbor, friend – and rival –Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and fellow resident of Downing Street.
At last, the most photographed door in Britain is letting Blair out – and Brown in.
A long, tangled relationship
Theirs has been a long partnership, based originally on friendship and shared values, but characterized more recently by the stresses and strains of one man holding onto the job longer than the other could bear.
Years ago, according to political legend, Brown agreed to step back to let Blair reach unchallenged for the Prime Minister's seal of office. But the deal was that Blair would pass it on – in good time.
The battle for succession has gone on largely out of sight – fought by "aides" briefing and counter-briefing the political media off-camera. But no one could fail to see the growing tension between these two powerful men.
Now Blair – charismatic, charming, a great speechifyer – is handing over to Brown – a solid, serious, some say rather dour Scotsman, not given to making many jokes.
But many in the U.K. – Labour Party supporters as well as its detractors – are ready for the change.
Blair still has a following, but his charm – like his hair – has worn thinner over the years.
Iraq has left a stain. Few doubt it's the right time for him to go, Blair amongst them, and to offer his undoubted political talents in another cause.
Latest opinion polls appear to show the public already shifting some support back towards the Labour government. The honeymoon has begun.
And, at last, our serious, solid and persistent Prime Minister Brown may find himself at the right time, and in the right place, at Number 10.