25 October 2009

The Tommy Cooper of No 10

Alan Watkins returns to the subject of the Labour leadership and is not convinced a change will come about or make any difference.  The Milbands fail to get a mention, but one Harriet Haman does:

Do not undervalue Ms Harriet Harman. Whenever I mention her, my friends among the political editors and parliamentary sketch writers fall about with exaggerated hilarity. She would, they say, be the equivalent of Mr Michael Foot in 1983. But times have changed. Desperate times require remedies of last resort.

Apart from having ruled herself out again, Harman would indeed be a remedy of the last resort.

Now, to this wonderful nugget:

We are told, such-and-such a by-election will prove crucial to the success of Mr Brown's government and to his future as Prime Minister. Or there is some other event upon which the wellbeing depends.

The by-election is duly lost; or the event refuses to take place, or turns out differently from what Mr Brown had expected. Mr Brown is surprised, or disappointed. Sorry about that, he says; try again; better luck next time. He is the Tommy Cooper of No 10; with the difference that the late comedian exercised considerable skill in his act.

In the end, like many Labour MPs, he gives up:

In test after test, imposed by himself or by others on his behalf, Mr Brown fails, and he is still there. He is like one of those old-fashioned toys that have lead in their bottoms. But the Labour benches are in a fatalistic mood. To them, another prime minister would not make much difference – and a new one might even make things even worse.

There is no evidence to back-up this statement, apart from the odd question asked in a few polls.  But, there is every reason to suggest that a new leader would make a considerable difference, and the arguments have been rehearsed many times.

Alastair Campbell, although still backing Brown, has this pithy analysis on his blog:

They [the Tories] have not sealed the deal, because they're not serious on policy, because they haven't changed much, and because a lot of people don't really like them.

You only have to look at ConversativeHome and the reaction to Cameron’s announcement on women-only shortlists to appreciate that the Tory party hasn't changed.

Then there is Europe, which is going to explode in Cameron’s face fairly soon.  Tim Montgomerie and his chums will have fun with that one.

As discussed previously, there is no great excitement at the prospect of a Tory government.  Armando Iannucci puts it well:

I don’t think there’s going to be dancing in the streets. I think it will be like…It will be like knowing you have to go in for a knee operation. You know it’s going to happen, it’ll get done and you’ll probably walk a little bit better a result, but you’re not really looking forward to it. I think that’s the feeling that people have.

Despite the polls, 2009 and is not the same as 1996.  Labour may not be able to win the election in 2010, but under a new leader a hung parliament is more than a possibility.

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