Is Darling going to be Labour’s Geoffrey Howe?

Is Darling going to be Labour’s Geoffrey Howe?

Mail Online

Will the Chancellor be the one who brings down Brown?

For someone like me who has been a Brown-sceptic for at least four years it is blindingly obvious that Labour would fare better in the coming election with a different leader.

Mind you I felt the same in the run-up to Brown’s coronation in 2007 and I was wrong then about what Labour MPs would do. It seemed impossible, in my view, that those who wanted to keep their seats would put their fate into the hands of a man who was clearly an electoral liability.

Just over a month ago when the talk was of “a minister to stage what is being termed a “nuclear resignation” in the middle of Labour’s conference this autumn which would force Mr Brown out within hours.” I speculated that Darling might be the one who would act He only one I could think of who could have that impact.

Since then Brown’s “dithers and evades”, in the words of Rachel Sylvester in today’s Times, over the Lockerbie bomber have just magnified the weakness of his leadership style.

Which brings us to Ephraim Hardcastle’s column in the Mail today when he reports on talk at Westminster that Darling might be the assassin.

But don’t hold your breath although I’m quite tempted by a couple of prices in the PaddyPower “When will Gordon Brown no longer be Prime Minister?”. You can get 5/1 on him going before the end of November and 4/1 that it will be in the period December 2009 to February 2010. This combination seems the best “Brown” out bet although the bookie only accept minuscule bets.

  • Historical note for those under the age of about 35 who might not recall the extraordinary resignation speech by Geoffrey Howe on November 13th 1990. The mild-mannered former Chancellor had this wonderful quote about Margaret Thatcher’s leadership style when negotiating with the EU – “It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, as the first balls are being bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain”. Maggie was out by the end of the month.
  • Mike Smithson

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