10 November 2009

AJ or DM: A leadership election?

Following David Miliband’s decision, John Rentoul has this to say:

This is good news for the country and the Labour Party. It suggests that Miliband thinks that there is a serious chance that there will be a change of prime minister before the election. As chairman emeritus of the AJ4PM campaign, all I can say is: the more top-quality candidates for the succession the better. I think there has to be a leadership contest if there is a change, even in the short time before the general election, and to have two excellent alternative leaders available is better than one. The speculation about Miliband's European future has enhanced his reputation and made the Labour Party realise how disastrous it would have been had he abandoned it.

Agreed.  However, there is one point that the “chairman emeritus of the AJ4PM campaign” should take on board. 

How is a leadership election going to be organised in the time remaining before the election?  It would be a distraction when resources should be focused on attacking the Tory party.

An alternative would be to suspend the leadership rules and for the Cabinet to nominate either Miliband or Johnson.

If Brown does depart in rather unique circumstances, this would surely be acceptable to the Labour party?

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  1. Also, how would any ousting work within Labour party rules?
    If he quits, that's different.
    I'd imagine a leadership election, as opposed to appointment, is essential. I'm not sure whether the noise about Brown taking over pretty much unopposed is only down to how unpopular he is generally.
    I look at how envigorated the Tories were after Cameron's election and think that riding the crest of a democratic wave may help any new leader.

    I'd pick Johnson of those two as I can't stand David Miliband and don't think he's right to lead Labour

  2. The press keep focussing on Labour Party rules, forgetting that Parliamentary rules trump these.

    In Parliament, the Prime Minister is obliged to resign if he loses a vote of confidence or a budget bill. With Brown's current majority this would need just 28 Labour MPs to vote with the Opposition Parties.

    The Queen is then obliged to choose a PM that can command a majority in the House, not necessarily the official leader of a party. Only if nobody can be found to command a majority should she dissolve Parliament.

    Thus, it need not take anything like the official Labour Party schedule to choose a new leader.