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Can it really go on like this for two years?

June 30th, 2008

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    What is going to bring Brown’s position to a head?

Yet again it is Gordon Brown’s future that continues to dominate UK politics. In her Monday Guardian column the former Brown enthusiast, Jackie Ashley, makes a powerful call on leading ministers and others within the Labour party to take some action to “end the drift”.

Either they should come out and support the Prime Minister or they must act to get rid of him and this, she argues, has to be resolved by the September conference season.

“Talking to ministers over the past few weeks, I have been struck by how fatalistic they have become. They do not seem, in the main, to be rebellious, angry or even despairing. Despair is too energetic a word. They seem clinically depressed, tired and flat. There has been talk of a posse of 15 junior ministers going to Brown to tell him the game is up but the consensus is that it won’t happen – in effect because they cannot be bothered. There is no plot. There is no plan. Some tell me they’ve started trying to avoid going out to social gatherings because of the ear-bashing they get, and find that when they go to official functions, it is their Tory opposite number who is sitting next to the most interesting and important people. It’s as if they were already in opposition: in power but also history.”

I can see that last line being picked up by Cameron for the next PMQs.

We’ve discussed all this at length and it is still hard to see how this can be brought to a head. I think Ashley is right – senior Labour figures have got to jump one way or the other – enthusiastically support Gordon or make a move for change.

Is it going to happen? Maybe it will be Labour’s precarious financial position that finally brings it to a head? Maybe a major donor could come forward to offer emergency funding but only on the condition that the current uncertainty is resolved? Maybe Miliband will see that the only way he can get the top job is by being the assassin now?

At every stage over Gordon the Labour party has surprised me. A year ago I could not fathom how 313 members of the parliamentary party could ignore the overwhelming polling evidence that Brown would be an electoral disaster. Now I cannot understand how their thirst for power has apparently dried up.

Next Labour leader betting.

Mike Smithson






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