24 January 2010

Why is Brown still there?

May I say, for the benefit of those who have been carried away by the gossip of the last few days, that I know what's going on. [pause] I'm going on, and the Labour government's going on.

No, that is not what Gordon Brown had to say after the unsuccessful coup earlier this month when the Cabinet failed to act.  It is what Harold Wilson said in May 1969 when rumours were circulating that Roy Jenkins and one or two others were plotting against the four-times-election-winner.  Jenkins eventually gave up and created the SDP, so ending his political career.

It was on that fateful Wednesday when Gordon Brown had no idea what was going on that Wilson’s comment (who was a master in managing the Labour party) popped up in the memory bank.  Brown would have looked ridiculous if he had come out with a similar sound bite.

Yet, why did the Cabinet fail to act?  Why did Mandelson or Miliband not dislodge Brown on that Wednesday afternoon?  Was it because it would all have been rather messy or the fact that neither Hoon or Hewitt had cleared the plot with the two men that mattered before sending out their e-mail?

As has been said time and time again by members of the AJ/DM4PM committee, either Alan Johnson or David Miliband would be far better than Brown to take the fight to the Tories.  The poll lead would have narrowed, especially in the marginal seats where it matters, therefore increasing the probability of a hung parliament at the election.

Miliband’s masterful performance on Marr today demonstrated why a new leader would make a difference.

But there is something else.  If Labour are defeated in May, a Johnson/Miliband ticket would have ensured that the Labour party doesn't tear itself apart. No one wishes to revisit the early ‘80’s.

It is for those two reasons why the change of leadership was so important, and yet the Cabinet flunked it.  Maybe Mandelson does have a grand plan but there no evidence of this to date.  The government has stopped functioning.

All that remains is the forlorn hope that Cameron will drop that Ming vase.

We are where we are.  Unless one of Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns pops up, Labour goes into the election with Brown as the leader with a Cabinet that would prefer to march behind someone else.

If Bob Ainsworth and the rest of us do wake up on 7th May and the Labour party has gone down to a heavy defeat, who is there to do what Denis Healey achieved in 1981 and save the Labour party from itself?

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  1. It seems incredible that Hoon and Hewitt would take the plot so far and yet fail so dismally. Irrespective of Browns failings, it does cast a poor light on the organisational abilities and courage of the rest of the cabinet.

  2. Can't help noticing tha all He did was talk about the Tories, which is all the government talk about now, which suggests desperation, and an empty cupboard where policy is concerned.