Saturday, May 24, 2008


Who will lead Birnam Wood to Dunsinane?

Poor Gordon looks as exhausted and miserable as Macbeth rubbing his eyes as 'Great Birnam Wood' appears to march to 'high Dunsinane Hill'. Problem is for the metaphor to acquire a proper fit, there has to be a Macduff, or, to employ a closer one, like Martin Kettle, a 'Geoffrey Howe'. As he points out, getting rid of Gordon via the established machinery would be protracted and so bloody as to be counter-productive. Better by far would be for him to stand down by consent. To effect this it would be necessary for senior colleagues, i.e. members of his Cabinet to do the deed:

The key ministers in any such process are those in the middle who have managed to steer clear of the Blair-Brown polarisation. If some or all of Alistair Darling, Jack Straw, Alan Johnson, Des Browne and Geoff Hoon were to call on him to step down, it would be hard for Brown to resist. It would be harder still if these ministers made clear they would resign if he did not. But who is going to be Labour's Geoffrey Howe?

The most credible assassins- Miliband, Johnson- may decide they can survive a spell in Opposition and still have a crack at the top job. Hmmm. Depends on how long Labour is likely to be in the wilderness. The likes of poor old Gerald Kaufman saw their chances of senior office wither on the vine during 18 years. My feeling is an older, maybe 'greybeard' figure might step up to the plate and seek a short spell in the top job to turn things around. Straw? Ambitious enough but would he shaft Gordon? My pick would be that tough old warhorse who has always heartily disliked Brown, Charles Clarke. I just wonder if the next thing we see is a reshuffle giving office to every conceivable rival to draw their potential sting. Don't rule it out.

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