Labour has a great opportunity. The end of Brown presents them with the chance the Party has been seeking for 7 years. Blair wanted to end Brown in 2001, but shied away from making the break. He often talked of sacking him after that. In 2007, the Party shied away from challenging him as leader, even though many were on public record saying that he would be dreadful, including David Milliband. Now events have moved the situation to the point where a risk will have to be taken, despite all the cautious instincts of those who could have prevented Brown from getting this far.
Now they have to act.
It cannot be a minor reshuffle of the cabinet. This must be a fully open Pop Idol media-covered leadership election, with as many people standing as wish to do so. If the Party does that, it would win the respect of the people, who would be willing to give the new leader, elected democratically in full public view the benefit of the doubt, and a chance to show what they could do.
The Party could also do much to rebuild trust with the people by holding the referendum as promised in the manifesto on the Lisbon Treaty. It would show that the new leadership believes in democracy, and that they are listening to the views of the people. These two highly public events – first a Labour leadership contest, and second a referendum on Lisbon would reset the political agenda for all parties, and maybe, just maybe, save Labour from a crushing defeat at the next General Election.
The 29 Labour rebels who voted for the Conservative referendum amendment should provide one or two of the candidates. Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Graham Stringer, Frank Field should select their leadership candidate, who should declare their intention to run. The end of Brown opens up great chances, but to avail themselves of this opportunity, Labour will have to take a risk, expose themselves to the vagaries of a democratic process, or drift into permanent Gordon Brown bureaucratised oblivion. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that Labour were fair demons at the democratic game. It was only when Labour reverted to Buggins Turn to protect Gordon’s fragile ego that everything went wrong for them. Bring it on!
I don’t see that THIS is the answer, just more of the same old New Labour!
PICTURE – Brown looks totally humiliated and furious. The Guardian says he is in total denial. That must make it very hard for anyone to do anything, but do something, they must.
(taken by Mike Smithson from the TV. hat tip to politicalbetting.com)
UPDATE – Jackie Ashley (Guardian columnist) agrees with me. Link HERE Including a bit of faux Brown loyalty just in case he survives for two more years and has her sent to Siberia!
But John Redwood gets it spot on, I’m afraid. It won’t make any difference who the Labour leader is unless they have completely different policies, and admit that Brown has lead them to the electoral disaster they have become. See HERE.
TheTelegraph sums up the situation from the rational viewpoint, but is this merely a rational situation?
A leadership challenge is a non-starter. The rules were specifically framed to make it near-impossible to mount a challenge against a sitting Prime Minister.
A fifth of the party – that’s 71 MPs – have to declare publicly that they have lost confidence in the leader for a special party conference to be convened.
Thereafter, two thirds of the party must give the leader the thumbs down. It’s not going to happen.
What about a Cabinet coup? That’s hard to envisage, both because there is no obvious heir apparent around which a mutiny could coalesce, and because it is hard to see more than one or two of them having the guts to confront Mr Brown.
Those who cite Margaret Thatcher’s removal forget that the daggers went in only after she had failed to secure an outright victory in a leadership ballot.
But things are clearly stirring in the Westminster undergrowth.
David Miliband is said to be dusting off his hat to throw into the ring – though he will be regretting his failure of nerve last year when he toyed with the idea of challenging Mr Brown, only to back down.
Charles Clarke is being talked about and shares in Alan Johnson are climbing fast, propelled by his answer yesterday when asked if there was any chance of his leading Labour into the next election: “None whatsoever, absolutely none.” Watch that space.
Meanwhile, Jack Straw is increasingly being talked of as the wise old greybeard to lead Labour into an unwinnable general election.
He would be less caretaker, more undertaker, and that’s a role that even the ambitious Mr Straw might not relish.
But a leadership contest is predicated on Mr Brown standing down.
Could he be mulling over that possibility as he spends this Bank Holiday in the bosom of his family?
It seems unlikely, for Mr Brown is not one of nature’s quitters. But can he take two more years of this? We’re about to find out.
Isn’t it the last sentence that gives you the picture? Brown is total denial of the situation. He is universally hated and despised, and yet he has constructed an unassailable political position based not on popularity but careful manoeuvring and rigging of rules. It seems unlikely that any human being can survive the prison of power that he has built for himself. The hatred and contempt in which he is held will only increase until it finds breaking point one way or another. The pressures can only get worse until they are relieved. Just look at that face. It cannot go on.