22 February 2010

Whatever the election result, Brown will have to go

A few weeks ago, this little gem popped up:

The other day, a Cabinet minister had lunch with a journalist. "What happens if you win?" enquired the hack. The minister looked astonished. It was clear that this possibility had not occurred to him. Having regained the power of speech, he replied: "There'd be an immediate leadership challenge"

Wind the clock forward to today and that Cabinet minister’s predication becomes deadly accurate.  With Rawnsley’s allegations neatly wrapped around Brown’s windpipe, he is finished as leader once the election is over.

Let’s look at the different outcomes.

The Tories win with an overall majority – Highly likely.  If this happens Brown will go quickly.  Can you really see him sticking around to ask Cameron questions at PMQs?

Labour win with an overall majority – Highly unlikely. Brown may stick around for a while, but because of the latest revelations it will not be long before he steps down or is challenged.  That Cabinet minister is right.

There is a hung parliament and Labour stay on in government as the party with largest number of seats – Whatever the polls say, our electoral system is designed to avoid this happening, but fate may intervene.

We can assume that the minor parties will not support Labour if Brown is still leader.  They will look for someone with a more consensual approach.

Harriet Harman will become leader while the Labour party elects a new one.  However, she is on record as saying she doesn't want the job permanently.  Moreover, she would be unacceptable to the minor parties.

Ed Balls and Ed Miliband are closely connected with Brown, therefore they both rule themselves out.

John Rentoul had this to say in his column yesterday:

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, might be a player….he might be interested in the more immediate challenge of multi-party politics. It cannot hurt that he has recently repeated his support for proportional representation.

Hmmm.  Whatever the result, Labour must rebuild itself.  It needs to look to the long-term rather than choose a stop gap leader that may not fight the following general election.

Only someone from the Blairite wing off the party can recapture the centre ground.  Without that, a long period in opposition awaits.

Win, lose or remain in power as the largest party, there is no alternative to David Miliband.

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