20 September 2009

AJ4PM: The jigsaw has one missing piece

Now we have to return to the forgotten subject of the day and add a chapter to the nearly completed story of Brown’s premiership.

First up is Sarah Brown, a shrewd woman if ever there was one, who has influence inside the bunker and is looking to life after No10.  Not wishing to miss out on any post Brown positioning, Mr and Mrs Balls share with us their domestic bliss as hubby joins the cuts auction.  As an aside, Ed does not deny he keeps in touch with McBride:

Is Balls still in touch with him or is McBride now too politically toxic? “The kind of person who just drops personal friends like that would not be the kind of person I would respect,” he replies. “It was a tragedy and terrible ... and I told him so.” It’s not altogether clear if he’s lamenting McBride’s tactics or his departure.

Moving along we get to John Rentoul.  Although he turns to other matters this Sunday, Alan Johnson still gets a mention:

The fact is that if Gordon did fall under a bus right now, Alan Johnson would take over. There is no need to go into the details – I've done that enough already: Labour would probably still lose the general election, but not as badly.  That is not my theme this week, however.

To digress a moment.  Haven't we trodden down the path of the 'under a bus' theory before?  The same applied to Wilson in 1964, Thatcher in 1979 and, dare I suggest, Blair 1997.  John says that Blair was prepared for power.  Hmmm.  Different subject.  We move on.

Scanning the on-line edition of the Mail on Sunday we get to an article about Adam Boulton’s revised gossipy book, Tony’s Ten Years.  These quotes, which precede those from the book, are important:

The Mail on Sunday has been told that Lord Mandelson is 'in despair' at Mr Brown's failure to get a grip of events which have led to a growing conviction in Mr Blair's inner circle that a Conservative victory is almost inevitable.

A well-placed source said: 'Peter genuinely thought he could turn things round for Gordon but it is proving to be much harder than he imagined. Tony was deeply sceptical about Gordon taking over all along and thinks he is a disaster.'

The new chapter of the book says:

Mr Blair believes Mr Brown may find an excuse to 'duck out' of the Election - which must take place by next June - possibly on health grounds.

If (and there has to be a big stress on that little word of anything printed in the Mail) this is true and Mandy subsequently withdraws his support for Brown, then that almost completes the picture.

But there is one piece missing from the jigsaw puzzle.  Not wishing to put a dampener on proceedings, the question has to asked.  Does Alan Johnson want the job?  After all the cunning plan rather comes crashing down if Our Man says no!

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  1. Your campaign for AJFPM is admirable, but somewhat strange. For one thing, why on earth would he want to do it this side of a General Election? Surely it would be better to either allow GB to continue and lead Labour to near oblivion, or allow Harriet to do so instead! Rebuilding the party as a new leader post election would be much more preferable to leading them to inevitable defeat? It just doesn't stack up that AJ would be willing to put himself in the position of leading Labour to defeat. Far better, surely, to wait until after the election (possible hung Parliament) and then make his move - when he could present himself as a new face, new ideas and someone different for the Lib Dems to do a deal with? Assuming of course he won any subsequent leadership election!

  2. You make some good points. Let me see if can help.

    I assume you agree that Brown is not suited to be PM? That being the case, consider this.

    One, it will not be Harman. She is not popular within the PLP.

    Two, if GB stays, barring any unknown unknowns he will lead Labour to a heavy defeat. Far better to have AJ narrow the Tory lead that may, just, result in a hung pariament. In this way Labour would not tear itself apart after the election.

    Three, it is doubtful that AJ would want it after heavy defeat. Labour would face a possible two terms in opposition and his age would be against him.

    The point of AJ now is to give Labour some hope. It doesn't avoid the naval gazing that will go on after the election if they lose. It is a short term measure that will give the Tories a run for their money.

    That is my reasoning, which started some months ago and I havent changed my view.

    Will it happen? It should. It is up to Labour MPs to decide whether it does.

    I have no idea whether AJ wants it. He hasn't said no up til now, but the question needs to be asked.