Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Will Gordon Really Go This Time?

One of the people who makes regular comments on my blog, and with whom I rarely agree, wrote the following on my post yesterday>

Prediction time: I think we are in the last month of Brown's glorious reign. He will be forced out after Thursday's certain disaster. Labour will be forced to go to the country with a new leader. And they will lose heavily.

Having read The Guardian's grim editorial today; the fact that Hazel Blears has also scurried back to her constituency; and that Betfair punters think we're heading for an early election, I think my commenter might be at least partly right. The Guardian allows for not a sliver of possibility that Brown can carry on:

This week Mr Brown announced a national democratic council that might (to see it in a generous light) form the basis of the sort of constitutional convention that led to Scotland's modern parliament. But it is too late. The chance for him has passed...The truth is that there is no vision from him, no plan, no argument for the future and no support. The public see it. His party sees it. The cabinet must see it too, although they are not yet bold enough to say so...Labour has a year left before an election; its current leader would waste it. It is time to cut him loose.

The problem with this scenario is that it cannot be clear an angry electorate will passively accept a second unelected prime minister on the trot. The editorial suggests the replacement- it clearly seems to envisage PR favouring Alan Johnson- could argue Labour needs a little more time to fix things in the short time before an election is going to happen anyway.

Such a story might work or might easily not. More problematic it seems to me are the following questions:

1. Will Gordon go voluntarily? Going down in history as a 'failed prime minister' who only lasted two years is something Brown would hate to do and the alternative will have to appear much worse for him to take it.

2.If he won't go quietly- and my feeling is he won't- will the Cabinet and/or the PLP have the bottle to confront him with the whisky bottle and the revolver as the Tory Cabinet did Thatcher in November 1990?

3. Will the Lib Dems- and this could be crucial- support another year of Labour in power? Yes, they will if Labour promises to introduce fair voting.

The pressure has been building for weeks now- triggered by the expenses scandal and the obvious collapse in any remaining voter trust in our present political system. The next few days could produce as big a change in our politics as we've seen since that fraught week in autumn 1990 when Thatcher reluctantly allowed her fingers to be prized from Number 10's door. We do, at least, live in interesting times.

We seem to be stuck between the need to ditch Brown (for he is obviously headed for disaster)and the undemocratic choice of installing another unelected leader. In my opinion the lesser of these two evils is a new leader and plumping for an October election.We'll lose regardless, the only question is do we allow a 150 seat Tory majority under Brown, or try to limit the damage under a new leader.Labour is spent, bereft of ideas and the electorate see us as tainted.The whole New Labour project was a wasted opportunity to set the political agenda for generations.It's time to rebuild, Brown can't do that- he's very much yesterday's man with more enemies than friends in the PLP.Let the cull begin and let it start with Brown- the poision started with him, it should end with him.
Agree, And Gordon can ahrdly expect loyalty when he sniped and schemed for so long to undermine Blair.
Bill, that is bang on the money. He has been the arbiter of his own downfall with all his previous plotting.

The situation he now finds himself in makes the "curry coup" from 2006 look like nothing. 2 cabinet ministers and 2 junior ministers in 24 hours, the day before local and Europe-wide elections!! The jig is up surely?
So, Blair was right all along: at the end, Brown is a deeply flawed man. The party could now do a lot worse than turn to Harman after the electoral carnage of the next few days has wrecked its inevitable havoc (Brown will resign early Friday afternoon, by the way, rather than hang around for the bruise upon a bruise from the Euro elections). A Harman Cabinet should include Hutton as Chancellor and Johnson as Deputy with the younger Miliband geek as Home Sec. Alternatively, there would be considerable 'reform' mileage in reaching out to the Lib Dems and offering No 11 to Vince Cable. The party should then make a considerable play to the right in order to counter-balance the BNP/Independent blip that will be clear once the MEp votes are counted. Labour should make the right noises on immigration, go for the throat of the bankers and wasteful public bodies such as the HEFC (close at least 20 universities) whilst at the same time making it clear that taxes will not rise. A spring 2010 election might then just see a Labour victory, possibly a done-deal coalition with the Lib-Dems if the Cable option is played. Clegg wouldn't like it but is in a weak position given the questions that remain about his personal wealth. The new Labour government should then see through MAJOR constitutional reform including a written constitution, a reduction in the number of MPs, dealing wih the over-representation of Scotland and completely abolish that bunch of benders and wasters in the Lords and replace them with an elected senate based upon the EU constituencies - certainly no more than 80 of them. There: that should do it.

Ive got an essay to write for my OU course on anarchism - anyone got any good books?
A robust prospectus and why not? Loved your certainty re Gordon's resignation and await verification. You could try Ian Adams, Political Ideology Today, MUP in the series I edit. Quite good on Anarchism I seem to recall.
"3. Will the Lib Dems- and this could be crucial- support another year of Labour in power? Yes, they will if Labour promises to introduce fair voting."

I wonder Skipper - remember, although PR is a long-cherished LibDem goal, so is coming second in an election. They have a slim chance (about one in ten) of doing that if they are not associated with Brown - none if they are perceived to have propped him up.

Moreover, it is difficult to see how Brown could promise more than a referendum on PR at this stage - anything else would struggle in the Commons and almost certainly be kicked out by the Lords (no Parliament Act could be invoked this side of the election). Would that be enough for the LibDems to suffer under his standard? It seems improbable to me.

Fully agree with points 1 and 2.
I loved Linda's thoughts on Labour's election victory next spring. I haven't laughed as much in ages.
Thank you for your generous comment, Mr Oakshite. I would like to return the compliment by saying how entertaining I find your own contributions. Fortunately, however, I have never read them.
You might have learned something if you had. Keep studying, you have a lot to learn by the looks of it...
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