Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Don't Rule out a Leadership Callenge Completely

My picture shows Gordon nearly a year ago accepting the leadership of his party. As we know, a year is an eternity in politics and much has happened since the fulfilllment of Gordon's life-long dream on that day in June 2007. In accepting his new office he said:

I will endeavour to justify every day and in every act the trust you have placed in me. Leadership is an awesome responsibility.

Few in the Labour Party would now agree that the responsibility to which Brown refers, has been successfully carried out. Scores of Labour backbenchers in marginal seats will be waking up in the small hours worrying about how they will survive in the unforgiving world of employment outside Westminister. More than one or two will be wondering if a leadership challenge, even at this late stage, might, if not win the next election, then at least help them protect their seats. The received wisdom is that no challenge will be forthcoming, but, with the Crewe byelection and the 42 day vote looming, Jackie Ashley yesterday added this qualification:

if things are still looking bleak by autumn conference, there could be a revolt. (Ignore that stuff about Labour's rules making it too difficult. Believe me, if there's a will, they'll find a way.)

Our knowledge of politicians suggest Ashley is not too wide of the mark. She is right that few potential challengers would wish to lead their party into opposition, the fate that currently would seem to await them. One can imagine that the likes of David Miliband- who has eschewed any challenge himself- would be included in such a category, but can we wholly exclude the possibility that such a temporary role- being prime minister for a year or more- might appeal to some of the older warhorses among Labour's leadership cadres?

I have in mind the likes of Charles Clarke, never a friend of Gordon, and Jack Straw, always more ambitious than he seems, who might like to round off distinguished political careers with a spot in the top job. And I wouldn't rule out of the equation the likes of Geoff Hoon, Alan Johnson or even John Hutton. OK, it's unlikely to happen but who would have imagined John Major as PM in the summer of 1990?

I think that Alan Johnson would definatley go for it, along with McDonnal and Meacher. Straw is an interesting one and it would possibly be his last chance so there is a possibility. Out of those I would be between Johnson and Straw.

I've written about David Miliband in relation to being leader here
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