Monday, May 12, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

From Frank Field to Cherie Blair to the Virtual Stoa, the emerging progressive consensus is that Gordon Brown has been a bit rubbish and ought to resign so that he can be replaced by...



If Brown were to resign, his most likely successor is probably Alan Johnson - the one who decided not to stand for the post last year because he didn't think he was up to the job. That'll terrify the Tories.

Or it could be even worse.

Paul Linford
, for example, floats a much more chilling prospect:

"What, then, about a backbench heavyweight - someone who could combine experience with the appearance of change, by virtue of not having been party to the debacle of the Brown premiership.

Of the obvious contenders, Charles Clarke has made too many foolish outbursts and hence too many enemies, while David Blunkett has made too many personal errors of judgement.

Potentially the most promising “change candidate” is Darlington MP Alan Milburn, whose still-youthful appearance belies his five years’ Cabinet experience."


At 11:01 pm , Blogger Chris Brooke said...

Actually, one of the reasons why I think it might be a good idea to have a leadership vacancy is precisely because I don't have a good sense of what will fill it. There'd be a real argument inside the party as to what direction, if any, it wanted to go in, and the candidates would have to present rival political visions, in a way that they just weren't able to in the Deputy Leadership election last year, where everyone knew that if they won they'd be Brown's underling. It'd be an exercise in party democracy, and that's something I'm relatively keen on.

Too much of Brown's politics have been about trying to eliminate uncertainty and to manage risk. But sometimes embracing uncertainty is a good thing in politics, especially when the current script you're reading from has you going down to a massive electoral defeat in a couple of years time. Of course, the party could decide that the future is Milburn- or Blears-shaped, in which case we're all doomed, but at least that would be a collective decision to commit suicide by what is still a decent-sized mass movement, rather than (as now) having the medium-term future of the labour movement being determined by the decisions of a leader who has all of Mr Blair's instincts for pandering to the Right, but none of his abilities to hoover up centrist votes as he does so.

Alan Johnson wouldn't terrify the Tories, no. But are you suggesting these days that Gordon Brown does?

At 10:43 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the (some would say unlikely) event that Brown resigned, does anyone see him doing it without having first picked his successor and doing everything to make sure it was that person who got in? In all likelihood we would just get Brown lite.

The real test is whether the PLP has it in them to stop perpetuating these stories and get disciplined and united. If it doesn't, perhaps a change of leader will be the only option. But best of the possible options would be us all recognising that if we wanted a leadership election, there was a time and place for advocating that and that boat has now sailed. And now to be loyal, dig in and hope that Brown & his team have learnt the right lessons from the last few weeks and months.


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