Monday, July 28, 2008

Labour - Clutching at nothing

Stephen Tall writes about the options facing Labour on Liberal Democrat Voice - Is this the beginning of the end for Brown?

I am not entirely sure that a different leader would change things much for Labour - perhaps it would give them a little honeymoon bounce which would reduce the degree of their trouncing at the next General Election.

The whole thing is hugely ironic, given that Brown was pestering Blair to handover power to him for years and that one of the main causes of Labour’s unpopularity is Brown’s abolition of the 10p tax rate, which all but negated his considerable achievements as Chancellor.

Martin Kettle has some interesting reflections in a well-titled article called: Clutching at Straw, including some detailed prognostications on the Labour party constitutional routes for removing a leader.

I was also taken by Andrew Rawnsley's article in the Observer on Sunday. My oh my, he didn't half ram home the fact that the Labour loss at Glasgow East was momentously dire for them:

Were the stunning anti-Labour swing to be repeated across the country, Gordon Brown would become the first sitting Prime Minister since Ramsay MacDonald to lose his seat in the Commons. Gone, too, would be all the cabinet ministers who are usually canvassed as possibilities to replace him. Goodbye David Miliband. Adios Alan Johnson. Do svidaniya Jack Straw. It would also be bye-bye Ed Balls, nice knowing you Jacqui Smith and thank you and goodnight to Alistair Darling. Virtually the whole of the government would be handed their P45s by the electorate. One projection suggests that only two members of the cabinet would survive the cull. Lucky old Andy Burnham and Harriet Harman would have to toss a coin to decide which of them got to lead what was left of the Labour party.

Such meltdowns can happen in democracies. It happened in Canada. Overnight, the Progressive Conservatives went from being the government to a party with just two - yes, two - members of parliament. It is hard to find anyone who seriously expects a collapse on quite that apocalyptic scale in Britain. But gone is the comfort for Labour MPs that at least 200 or so of them would survive even a big defeat at the next general election. That is one significant psychological effect of this calamity. No Labour MP, however massive his or her parliamentary majority, can now feel entirely safe from the electoral scythe. We are entering territory where none of the old certainties about politics necessarily applies.

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