Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Top Left of Centre Columnists Tell Gordon to Go!

One is the doyen of the Guardianistas, with a track record of loyalty to Labour, often, say her phalanx of critics, to a slavish extent. The other is the daughter of Labour's former national treasure, Jack Ashley (and wife of good old Andrew Marr into the bargain). But both have reached a parting of the ways with Gordon Broon. Yesterday I thought Ashley was perhaps a little too febrile over the expenses crisis. Anyway she thinks it's really 'the worst' and is keen to foment rebellion against the man she once backed as Blair's successor.

If the party gets behind any of Johhnson, Harmon or Ed Miliband, she thinks damage limitation would ensue. Either of the men, she thinks, would have 'some moral authority' to reform the system.

But we are not there yet, and Brown has a record for stubbornness and for fighting on even when things look very black. He still believes a change in the economy could lead to a change in the political weather in the autumn, by which time memories of all those cushions and lampshades might have faded.

Polly is even more emphatic in her piece. 'Plot it now' she hisses like Lady Macbeth; 'Do it Fast. By 5 June, Brown Must Go'. She proceeds to shred Brown's character. There was a 'Good Gordon' and a 'Bad Gordon' she seems to say, and the latter won out once he was in office while all decent Guardian readers had hoped the good guy would turn up instead. In addition to being a manipulative and full of low cunning, he lacks communication skills and any vision for the future. Terrible poll results, unless they are a blip, 'are the beginning of meltdown'. She toys with the idea Brown might anounce he was sorting out the expenses mess and then holding an election to clear the air and 'stop a slaughter'. She knows he'd never do it.

IHe may be the best-read prime minister in decades, but his learning seems to hamper instead of illuminate his path. His indecision is legendary, every department awaiting answers that linger on his desk for months as he agonises sleepless but indecisive into the early hours. But then the decisions he takes are too often tactical, not purposeful or strategic.

Johnson is her pick also but if anyone asks him he says he's not interested, quite emphaticlly to Jackie's husband last Sunday actually. He might have calculated that he would be on a hiding to nothing: a year's torture culminating in a defeat. He might prefer to wait until the defeat and then stand in the aftermath to pick up the battered banner. But it would be good if he would stand. What a contest it would be: 'The orphan from nowhere against the boy who had everything'. Enjoying that campaign might compensate just a batsqueak or two for Labour's inevitable defeat.

Brown must know he is crap when he manages to unite the entire political spectrum against him.

Toynbee and her like can dream on. Johnson won't touch the job if he has an ounce of wit. Who in their right mind would want to be PM for a year of feeble recession to be remembered for being the PM who led them to electoral slaughter?! And in any case they are kidding themselves. A hard leftie like Johnson would have no chance against a Blairite like Miliband in a post-election defeat climate. And that will annoy Polly even more!(hopefully enough that takes 40 paracetamol with her Bergundy).
Yes, a curious achievement in terms of unifying a disparate group. Agree Johnson won't be tempted but he's no 'hard leftie'...
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