08 May 2010

Gordon Brown has turned the election result on its head

It was kind of Gordon Brown to give a lecture to the nation on its unwritten constitution yesterday.  However, not for the first time, he decided to skip over a few important facts, which are rather fundamental to what happens next.

The Labour party has 258 seats, a loss of 91 from the 2005 election, and 29% of the popular vote.   On this basis, Brown has assumed the 'moral right' to remain in office as Prime Minister.

The Labour party has little hope in putting 'a coalition of willing' together to get to the magic figure of 326, which would allow for its proposals in a Queen's Speech to be passed by the Commons.  The Tory party, however, has 306 seats and will, presumably, have 307 when the one remaning constituency holds its election in a few weeks.  This is more than adequate to form a minority administration.  And yet, under under the guise of a clever document produced by the Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, Brown is allowed to say in office.

Of course, the small matter of government has to proceed, but it be would be far better, relative to the critical financial position that we find ourselves in, if this happens under a Prime Minister who is likely to command a majority in the Commons.

Gordon Brown has not only been wrongly advised to remain in office, but has also rejected the message that the voters have sent him.  Brown and Alastair Campbell, who unwisely toured the TV studios yesterday wearing a a yellow tie, has to accept the show is over.  The crowds have all gone home.

Gordon Brown should have resigned yesterday and departed with dignity.  The Labour party has to rebuild itself in double quick time, as there will be another election within a year, and can only do this in opposition under a new leader.

Brown's alternative is not credible.  His thinking, obviously, is that the Lib Dem talks with the Tories will fail and Clegg will then run into Brown's open arms and cut a deal.  Then what?  Does Brown, or Clegg for that matter, seriously believe such an arrangement will last long enough for the process of electoral reform to take place?  Then comes the problem of Brown's leadership.  Will this be acceptable to Clegg?  If so, how will Labour elect its new leader whilst mixed up with this ill thought through concoction?  Oh, and then there is our financial situation to consider and the painful decisions that have to be made.

Meanwhile Cameron, with the number of seats the Tories have, will play havoc with this arrangement in the Commons.  He will also say, rightly, that Brown has no authority to remain in office.  After a short period, Brown's pack of cards will fall into a heap and the Tories will win a landslide election.

If Gordon Brown remains in office his failure will be complete.  He will destroy not only what little credibility he has left, but also the Labour party.

The tragedy is that neither he nor the people advising him appear to recognise this.


  1. Sorry, normally I like reading posts here, but there's just a massive flaw in this one.

    "And yet, under under the guise of a clever document produced by the Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, Brown is allowed to say in office."

    This 'clever document' might better be labelled "the constitutional process". This isn't something that Sir Gus has just dreamt up, its what the constitution is. Its the process that has been used for centuries, and Sir Gus could no more change it on the basis of some 'moral right' than the US Supreme Court could change the Second Amendment on the basis that 'guns are bigger now'.


  2. My point is that Brown cannot form a credible government and therefore should go. Moreover, he has been rejected by electorate.

  3. Of course he should go, but not only would it be a constitutional problem for him to go before there is a new PM to take his place, the Palace would be massively unimpressed, the Army would have no Chain of Command, international obligations such as attending EcoFin would be unmet, the business of government would need to be put on hold, the Tory/Lib Dem negotiations would be unhelpfully rushed, etc etc.

    Were he to refuse to go once Cameron is ready to show he can command a majority, that is a totally different matter, and would be the equivalent of a coup d'etat. As it is, however, he's doing exactly the right thing (as Sir Richard Turnbull just made clear on Radio 4).

  4. Turnbull is protecting the establishment. From a political view, Brown should have resigned on Friday.

    Anyway, it's all nearly over, or will be on Monday.