Sunday, April 22, 2007


It Has to be Gordon- Subject to a Possible May Election Hic-cup

Well, now he's said it. He's definitely not running and even by American standards of dissembling on such matters, this has to be good enough. I've been persuaded of his sincerity for a few weeks now on his own intentions and have not been won over by the more kremlinological analyses produced by some commentators, suggesting surviving 'wriggle room' indicated a planned candidature.

Is it because he's not so ambitious or because he thinks he can't win? A combination I think, but with more of the latter than the former. His natural style is self effacing and he values family privacy, both factors leading him away from the leadership hustings; but the undeniable fact that more than half of the PLP being solid for Brown and polls suggesting similar states in the other two sections of the electoral college must have been the clincher. Why risk humiliation and your future career by pitching for something you are not even sure you want?

If there was any remaining doubt about the party's support for Gordon, his performance against George Osborne in the censure debate on pensions during the week, must have removed it. Osborne tried to hit the light, witty tone of an Oxbridge debater but he had nowhere near prepared for the 'heavy clunking fist' of Brown's crushing debating skills. Better briefed and quicker on his feet, Brown made mincemeat of the Tories attempted ambush to the Chancellor's reputation on the cusp of his accession. 'I relish this debate' he began ominously, 'I will answer every question put to me.' And this is exactly what he went on to do(click if you want to read some of the debate).

In his Observer article Miliband believes the New Labour project needs to be broadened and deepened into 'New Labour Plus' with a 'new emphasis on the power of individuals and communities to shape their own lives'. I'm not sure that particular title will survive beyond today's article but the general idea has to be sound. The only fly likely to sully Gordon's ointment will arrive through the window in the wake of the may elections.

If, as seems likely, they bring only grief for Labour in Scotland, Wales and town hall, there will probably be a brief flicker of competitive intent from the likes of John Reid or (these days) the Falstaffian figure of Charles Clarke, neither of whom have wholly ruled themselves out of the race. Brown would still win but either or both might calculate that a reasonable showing in a leadership contest is the best way to win a seat in Gordon's first Cabinet.

Very perceptive analysis of the Commons debate.

I didn't read Miliband's article, but skipped to the comments for a brief look and presumed "New Labour Plus" was a mickey-take. I suppose that, given his "I can" article in the New Statesman, it's hardly surprising. But still not as bad as Cameron's "I care".
It could be because he is committed to his environmental post, nobody seems to have considered that. He also knows that he is young enough, that his time will come. If Gordon Brown cocks up, it will be much easier to become leader without back stabbing.
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