04 September 2009

An October revolt?

Martin Kettle adds to the speculation on whether there will be a plot to unseat Brown in October:

An active network of MPs and peers now exists, involving some names you might expect, but also others – including big ones – whose participation would surprise you. This group, like probably the majority of Labour MPs, accepts that Brown is a liability to his party's election prospects. Unlike the majority, though, they claim to think something can be done about it. They believe the window of opportunity, if it comes, will be in the two or three weeks after October 12. If Brown can be pushed, then this is the time. They say they are ready to try.

This has to be right.  As discussed, October is the only plausible month for Labour to replace Brown.

On the key players:

They stood by him in June, remember. The role of senior ministers without leadership expectations, such as Mandelson, Alistair Darling and Jack Straw, will be pivotal here – Mandelson above all. In the end, though, the person who most matters is Brown himself. He might fight, or he might walk away. Good judges are divided. No one really knows, not even he.

There is little to disagree with here except the latter point. Brown could be persuaded to stand down, but it is very doubtful he will just ‘walk away’.

Brown has few options left now after this disastrous week.  Yes, he may get some credit for a successful G20 in Pittsburgh but it is the wrong strategy to put too much emphasis on this.  It will be Obama’s show this time and Brown’s credibility is much lower than it was at the time of the London G20.

This “active network of MPs and peers” needs a strategy and above all organisation.  This Mandy cannot provide.  He can only manage the transition to Alan Johnson.  The means to that end still needs to be worked through, so the Labour party does not fall apart six months before an election.

Still the deadly question remains.  Are Labour MPs up for the fight?

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