Sunday, May 20, 2007

No Contest

It's Brown by coronation. This is good news, for just about everyone except the Labour Party. A contested leadership election, even one as mismatched as the bout on offer, would have given Labour a rolling primetime six-week platform to lay out new policies and build new enthusiasm. Instead we got one press conference and a palpable sense of anticlimax. Brown looked smug, but already there are a few rumblings in the Labour blogsphere that this might have been a bit of an own goal by the great clunking fist.

Labour Party rules required that the MPs nominate candidates for the subsequent election. It did not require that they support the nominee, just that they nominate. However the PLP decided that getting in with the new boss was more important that little things like allowing the ordinary membership a voice, and it is inconceivable that they would have come to this conclusion unless it was also the view of Brown's campaign team. So, no election, which has a corollary of reduced legitimacy when the going gets tough, and the going is already pretty tough if you are a Labour MP in a southern marginal seat.

Democracy may be inconvenient for candidates to high office, but the alternatives can be far worse. Ask Nicolae Ceau┼čescu.

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