Saturday, January 06, 2007
'Gizza Job' Charlie and 'Brown's Year'
Arch Blairite Charlie Falconer has plumped unsurprisingly for Gordon Brown ('a towering figure') as the only conceivable replacement to Blair, suggesting either that the Blair camp has reluctantly accepted their destiny as elements in a imminent 'Brown's world' or that Charlie is applying for a job, or both. On the first, they are surely right; on the second Tony's flatmate might just have established his efficacy as a fast moving, likeable fixer sufficiently to secure his berth on HMS Gordon- but including him in preference to the burgeoning assemblage of established Brownites might prove too great a problem. I imagine the 'bit of both' is closest to the truth.
The Guardian is right to dub 2007 'Brown's year'. The only possible rival is John Reid whose recent speech on the need to continue as New Labour reminded the party's movers and shakers that he's there if either Gordon slips up or they change their minds. [For a shrewd assessment of Reidy's intervention see Paul Linford's post last Thursday.]
Tomake this his year properly, it seems to me Gordon should focus on the following four items:
1) Include a raft of new younger ministers to manufacture a sense of a completely new administration- it worked for John Major long enough, at least, for him to win an election.
ii) Reformulate foreign policy in way which puts distance between UK and USA and edges us closer to the EU.
iii)Offer a new approach to managing the public services; the sense of 'good money after bad' has grown under Blair and may prove the most potent recruiting sergeant for Conservative votes in 2009.
iv) To help achieve the above, adhere to a more traditional form of government in which civil servants advise, minutes are taken and Cabinet really discusses.
Yes, it is likely that Brown will win. But to my eyes allowing it to be a contest between Brown and Reid (or similar) would bring the terrible situation that Brown only has to come to an accommodation with the far right and this will pull him right.
If there is a determined Left/Centre Left candidacy then Brown will at least have to accomodate the left in the PLP. CLPs and TUs to some extent.
John McDonnell is operating on the model that says that the first man who puts up his hand to lead on a left programme i.e John should be given a clear run. He says he accepted this when Ken did it to him at GLC level. But he surely would not have said that if Alan or Michael or Bob had got their hand up first. Would he?
There should be a reality check on the left and some kind of primary to select a candidate to :
(a) get on the ballot and
(b) pull Brown leftwards if not beat him.
In my opinion!
I agree a 'coronation' is not the best outcome but fear the damage a bitterly contested succession might cause. You may be right on the ideological centre of gravity of the PLP but such things are not so important when the critical question of 'who can save my seat?' are asked. best Labour result would be one in which McDonnnel is able to stand but is easily beaten. Who is 'Bob' by the way? Not Marshall- Andrews surely?
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