30 September 2009

AJ4PM: A “little local difficulty”

Of course, the morning after would not be complete with paying some attention to the little matter of the Labour leadership.

John Rentoul, our leading AJ4PM campaigner, is in a fiery mood.  He picks up a transcript of Brown’s speech and rightly dumps it into the nearest shredding machine.  Then we move on to the leadership and he is not that happy with Our Man either:

It has been a bad conference, above all, for the Alan Johnson campaign. He said, in a pre-conference interview on Saturday: "I haven't got the ambition, and I haven't got the self-confidence, and I haven't got that real aching desire to lead, which really is an essential quality in a leader". Yes, he tacked on at the end a half-hearted form of words to keep his options open – "I'm not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities" – but he has to want it a bit more than that, because this is an emergency, and because Brown will almost certainly have to have it prised out of his iron grip. Perhaps it would have to be David Miliband after all.

Now steady on.  What does John want Our Man to do?  Behave like Heseltine and put it up there in neon lights that he wants the top job?  No, much better to make a throw way remark that gets buried deep inside an article.

Now, to the wider point.  Does Alan Johnson want the job?  We will know when the time is right, which is not on the pre-conference weekend.  The question has been asked not only once but twice and it is time that some discreet soundings were taken by the initiator of the cunning plan.

Our Man maybe more enthusiastic than John suggests.  He was one of the first out the traps last night after Murdoch’s bombshell went off saying, “electors decide elections not newspapers”.

As to the alternatives.  Neither Miliband is ideal.  Ed is certainly not, as was demonstrated on Newsnight.  If it has to be Miliband the older, so be it.  As the voters have said, “anyone could do a better job” than Brown.  But Miliband against Cameron doesn't sound much of a game changer.

Something has to be done.  If it is not to be Johnson then Our Other Man needs to get on with it before the cry goes out, Too late!

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