Friday, May 18, 2007
'Two Prime Ministers' furore is a row Without Substance
The press is full of the jibe that we have 'Two Prime Ministers' and that this is wholly unnecessary. Well, it has to be said that this is essentially true in that Blair could step down at once should he choose, though it has come about, as constitutional firsts often do, by accident. Brown and Labour's NEC assumed the contest would somehow fill up the 6-7 weeks before Blair formally hands over the reins. Now that well over 300 nominations preclude the need for an election we have a period for campaigning which is, in effect, void. Gordon could have prevented this by nudging some of his supporters to nominate McDonnell to bring about a contest he could only have won by a legitimising landslide but this went too much against the unforgiving grain for the competitive, somewhat paranoid Scot.
So we have this period of time and everyone is complaining we have two PMs, which is nonsense of course. Until Blair resigns on 27th June, he remains the PM and is constitutionally in control, even if his authority has already poured out of number 10 and into his successor elect in number 11. This situation is now similar to the hiatus between the election of anew US president in November and inauguration in the following January. No-one seems to mind that much across the pond and no-one bleats about there being 'two presidents'. Moreover, the very real and lively competition for the deputy leadership offers a sort of contest by proxy, at least in respect of the key issues. Today Polly Toynbee hopes the main issue will emerge as the growing gap between the poor and the getting much richer.
Let's just accept that we have a short interlude in which Blair can take a lap or two of honour-which he deserves after ten years in the job-and that Brown has time to prepare for his first 100 days and to persuade the nation that he is really that nice Dr Jekyll and not that awful Mr Hyde about whom we've been hearing a little too much for comfort. On final conjecture, I wonder if Gordon's promised constitutional package will address elections for Westminster. I'd not be too surprised if he were to introduce PR to emasculate Tory attempts to regain power for some time to come. Voting reform only happens when it is to the advantage of the government in power to change the system. It might be argued that such a time, for Labour, is now.
[note: the middle picture shows Gordon's head in the shadow of Blair's head-well that's no longer the case]
Even after what's just happend in Wales?
Our current hiatus is the consequence of private career choices, ego and the machinations of the Labour NEC. A little less noble no...?
Give the guy a break. If he had done that, people would have complained that he had engineered a spurious contest to make himself look good, and argued that this meant he was just as addicted to spin as Blair.
You could be right. I was reacting purely as a party member though and I know a few more who think like me.
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