Monday, September 15, 2008

Gordon Brown in deep trouble

This from Nick Robinson's blog a couple of days ago:
The PM, it seems, has been saved for now at least not by anything he's done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.
Robinson has, to be fair, recognised that this is the equivalent of the Michael Fish 'no hurricane' forecast just before the south of England was hit by a, well, hurricane. Gordon Brown is now in deep trouble, with up to 23 backbench MPs doing to him what he did to Tony Blair, that is to create an environment where he can no longer function as Prime Minister regardless of what the party rulebook says. Labour's arcane system requires 70 odd MPs to precipitate a leadership contest, but the current rebellion calculates that far fewer than that number can put Gordon Brown under enough pressure that he goes. His options are limited: cannot ask for loyalty, because he showed none to Tony Blair; he cannot rely on his electoral mandate within the Labour party, because he and his cronies engineered it so that there was no election. All that is left is force and so far, the response to the rebels has been brutal, with sackings from whatever position held for the crime of, wait for it, asking for a ballot paper as allowed under Labour Party rules. It also begs the question of how the names of the requesters have become know to Gordon's operation, and that is the subject of much debate in online political circles. These heavy-handed tactics might keep Gordon in position in the short term, but they come at a cost of moral authority both within the party and the country.

Politically, Gordon Brown is finished, but at this rate he will drag down his party too. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair stood aside because, ultimately, they were not prepared to do that. Does Gordon have that sense of historical perspective and moral courage, or is he a dictator who cares not what comes after him as his foes close in on his bunker. If it is the latter then the focus of history has become needle sharp on the events of the next few days. Always remember that political parties can die.

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