28 August 2009

AJ4PM: Surely, it has to be October

It has taken a while, a whole day in fact, for John Rentoul to react to Matthew Parris’s thoughts in yesterday’s Times.  What we get is an unscheduled article in the Indy.

Rentoul launches a full frontal assault on Our Dear Leader.  He rips into Brown about his behaviour over the summer and towards colleagues past and present.  Then we get his response to Matthew Parris:

Well, he hasn't, of course, although it is just possible that, over this summer, he has taken a decision to step down early in the new year. All I can say, on behalf of the Alan Johnson For PM campaign, is that we will tolerate no complacency. We cannot rely on him to go of his own volition. He will have to be pushed out, either by his own party, if it has the wit and the will to minimise the damage it will suffer at the election, or by the voters.

Agreed, up to a point.  It is those deadly words, “early in the new year” that needs a little discussion.  Is Rentoul now seriously suggesting that Brown, having taken the decision to stand down, will now become all mechanical and go through the motions until January?  He’d cock the whole thing up and the media would catch on.

Back in April, we discussed The Bob Hawke Scenario and after consulting Labour MPs, Rentoul changed his mind:

Since then I have spoken to Labour MPs and others who have prompted me to revise the timetable. Every week that the Labour Party puts off getting rid of Brown, said one activist, damages the party further. And when I suggested leaving the change until the last possible moment before a general election, an MP said that would be "cynical and horrible". I think they are right. If it can be done it should be done quickly.

In fairness he did add:

I still think it is more likely that Brown will go towards the end of this year or early next year.

This is too late.  Unforeseen events may well intervene during the winter that would make the change impossible.  The Labour party would get boxed in, with obvious consequences.

There was a window of opportunity in June, which was missed, or, to be frank, bungled.  October, after the party conference, if Brown does not step down before, is when it should happen.  Leaving the transition until January, however it is managed, is just too risky and would be seen as too cynical a move.

For this fully paid up member of the AJ4PM campaign, it is October or bust.

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