08 May 2009

More on the Labour leadership

Steve Richards re-emerges in the Indy today to add his two pennyworth on Brown’s future:

On Brown’s confidence:

The degree to which he is in trouble is highlighted by the most trivial item on the list of recent calamities. After smiling absurdly on the You tube video I am told he is in a state now as to what to do in public appearances. Once he was accused of being too dour and instructed to lighten up. Now he will be worried about lightening up. To smile or not to smile? When that becomes a question of some significance the self-confidence of any public figure is bound to collapse.

This doesn't stand up:

He was a Labour Chancellor for 11 years and then achieved his ambition to become leader of his party, an extraordinary political feat. Most leaders in waiting do not become leaders. Most Labour Chancellors tend not to last for very long. Brown was a long serving Chancellor and a leader in waiting for more than a decade who then became a leader. A bumbling fool does not pull that one off.

Nor was Eden, who waited just as long and looked what happened to him.  Leaders in waiting do not make good prime ministers.

Now we move on to Alan Johnson:

I suspect the only way Labour would change its leader is a variation of the Conservatives' third attempt. If Brown were to resign this summer, it is possible Alan Johnson would get the job unopposed and told to get on with it.

A change of leader is unlikely partly because there has not been a single opinion poll suggesting that Labour's fortunes would improve with a new one, a big difference with the fall of Margaret Thatcher in 1990 when surveys revealed that a new leader would give the Tories a significant boost. Then Michael Heseltine and others were also desperate to become Prime Minister.

This is a significant point.  Thatcher went, not only due to her unpopularity, but also because of her policies.  With Brown it is different.  He has lost his authority, is not a credible prime minister and is ridiculed.

There is something else.  A theme is running through comment pieces of late giving the reasons why Brown will not be replaced.  Apart from John Rentoul, no one mentioned Alan Johnson until recently.  It will interesting to see when the commentators change their tune and start saying Brown should go.

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