Friday, June 05, 2009


Purnell Deals Possibly Fatal Blow But Darling Holds Trump Card

I cannot think of a time in our politics when things are so much in flux, the tmosphere so febrile, apart from late November 1990 when Thatcher was toppled. Purnell's 'strike' was perfectly timed to exact maximum damage just after Blears, before the reshuffle and before the local government and euro election results.

As I've said before, Gordon will be limpet-like in his determination to stay but the chances now must be that he'll have to go after the weekend. Miliband, Denham and Byrne have all spoken up for their beleaguered boss, so the ranks have closed to a degree but whether Gordon can survive much more of this battering, is an open question.

What is surprising and hugely ironic is that his once sworn enemy, Peter Mandelson, is able to stand in front of the cameras and make such an apparently sincere case for keeping Gordon on. With the Prince of Darkness in your corner, despite his own enemies in the PLP, it would be a rash punter who bet the mortgage on Brown stepping down anytime soon.

I tend to think Brown's problem today is to sort out the reshuffle to any degree of acceptability. Just keeping his Cabinet in post, let alone reshuffling the jobs, seems to be his immediate problem. If he can remove Darling and install Balls, he will have gone quite a way towards survival, showing the party he can still govern, still retain authority. If Darling refuses to be shifted, Brown will be so exposed it is unlikely he can survive the awful poll results.

I think Gordon Brown will survive to the next elecion - crucially, there is no alernative leader to carry the flame. Purnell isn't one, neither is the still loyal Hutton. Tory bloggers are furious at Miliband and Johnson's refusal to step up to the fight, but I can't help think they would have been fools to do so. Brown may lack a number of key political skills, and he has weathered the present storm very badly, but he still has more of a narrative than his putative rivals. He'll stay - until the election.

With Darling staying, I'm very interested to see what happens to Balls - do we have to keep him at education?!
Could be Gordon has read it correctly and nobody will be perturbed by Darling sitting tight. But we need to see reaction to poll results before we can foresee Brown being there in a 11-12 months' time.
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