05 September 2009

Brown should look away now

We will get to Hopi Sen’s rather unconvincing post on the Labour leadership in a moment.  Firstly, here are snippets from various commentators this morning:

Peter Oborne:

I am told that Tony Blair, who knows Gordon Brown's character better than most, privately believes that his successor may step down of his own accord once he realises he faces certain defeat at the election.

Some of Blair's allies (such as his former Press Secretary Alastair Campbell, who came to Brown's aid when he faced a crisis of confidence last year) now appear to have withdrawn their support. So it is still far from certain that Brown will last in office until the General Election.

Andrew Grice has the details of Brown’s so called autumn relaunch, none of which is game changing stuff.  He then makes the obvious point:

The difference now is that time is running out; this relaunch may be Mr Brown's last. If the poll gap is not bridged in the way his plan envisages, there could be one last attempted putsch from inside his own party. Although this may well fizzle out, as it did in the botched coup a year ago and again in June, the day of reckoning with the voters is not far away.

Mr Brown may well be a man with a plan. But, after the past week, the question arises: is he capable of implementing it?

Andrew Porter adds to what Martin Kettle was discussing yesterday:

So how could Mr Brown be ousted?

According to senior Labour insiders Mr Brown’s future rests on one of a few things happening. He could have a “wobble” and decide he needs to consider his own position. Or one of, or a combination of, Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson or David Miliband could move against the leader. Or finally, Lord Mandelson could decide Mr Brown has to go and tell him to his face.

Form dictates that Mr Brown will not accept that he is anything other than Labour’s best hope at the election. It means Cabinet ministers hold the key.

Hopi argued yesterday that there is no way that Brown could be removed before the election as the Labour party rules do not allow for this to happen.  Rather pompously he refers to the Labour party constitution.  Hopi needs allow his memory bank to kick in on this point and cast his mind back to the events of September 2006.  There is no evidence that Tom Watson and his mates paid much attention to that little read document when they plotted successfully against three-times-election-winning Blair.

Hopi and others can refresh themselves with all the arguments put forward on this blog and by John Rentoul over many months about what the Labour party needs to do to narrow the Tory lead and have a fighting chance at the election.

Today we are where we are.  Perhaps Hopi could deal with the following:

1. Are you convinced that Brown can communicate, sell the Labour party to the voters at the next election and win a fourth term?

2. How does he achieve the above when he has lost credibility in the media and is mocked and ridiculed on a daily basis?

3. Do you accept that if the Cabinet rebels, in whatever shape or form, then Brown would have to go no matter what the Labour party rules say?

4. Has Labour lost the will to fight with so many MPs retiring at the election?

The point has to be made again.  Labour can avoid a catastrophe defeat at the next election and does have an alternative that should be taken.  The question for Hopi is this.  Why won’t you consider this viable option?

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