04 June 2009

Plots and rumours: Money, women, e-mails, the wow factor and Mandy

Take your pick this morning on what is going on as we go the polls.

Could it be the money will stop Labour MPs moving against Brown?  Will it be the girls that bring Brown down rather than men in dark suits?  Perhaps it will be an e-mail conspiracy that does the deed?

Peter Riddell puts all the goings on in a historical perspective.  He suggests Brown needs a wow factor:

What a beleaguered PM needs is a wow factor — something that grabs the initiative, such as John Major’s decision in 1995 to seek re-election as Tory leader, which bought him time, if not harmony. Gordon Brown has already tried that once, last October, when the return of Lord Mandelson silenced the Blairite critics.

After a very damaging two days, does Mr Brown any longer have the authority to mount a credible reshuffle? Will people refuse the jobs offered? The key here is Alistair Darling, who has been a loyal, and remarkably patient, ally for so many years. If he is shifted from the Treasury, will he accept another post?

The risk for Mr Brown is if he is snubbed in his choices and can only construct a Cabinet dominated by cronies. Ed Balls understands the Treasury’s agenda, but he would be a big political gamble. Mr Brown wants to follow the reshuffle by a relaunch of plans for economic recovery, public service reform and political renewal. It may be too late for that. Mr Brown’s options are narrowing by the hour. But he still has a few left.

Nothing much to disagree with here.  Brown is unlikely to put himself up for re-election unless he can be assured that he will be the only candidate.

Apart from elections, today will no doubt be dominated by more rumours and plots.  Once the polls close, matters could well take a dramatic shift if Hazel Blears chooses to speak out or her comrade-in-arms Caroline Flint resigns.  The problem is their call to arms may well backfire if Labour exceed their poll expectations.

Nearly forgot.  As I have mentioned previously, don’t take your eye of this guy, who for the first time seems to be acknowledging that an e-mail is doing the rounds.

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