I generally have fairly low expectations of the competence of members of the Labour party, but the recent failed rebellion against Gordon Brown sets a new standard in uselessness. Seven ministers refuse to serve, backbench MPs on the airwaves calling for Brown to go, Labour getting 16% of the vote in a national poll and still they couldn't pull it off. These people would need detailed instruction to run a whelk stall.
Let us be clear on the situation Labour are in: Gordon Brown is political poison. The people's judgement is in, as illustrated by a poll in today's Times where 51% said Brown should go for the good of the country. Out on the streets of Basildon Brown is actively disliked by the sorts of people who don't normally bother with politics. I don't know what it must have been like for Labour canvassers during the recent elections, but it couldn't have been fun and the election results spoke for themselves. There are now no Labour County Councillors in Basildon and exactly one in Essex. If Labour persists with Brown then the next general election will be Armageddon for for them. Sensible Labour people know this, so how come Gordon still sits in number ten? The answer is simple, they may be sensible but the rebels seem to have the organisational ability of a hippy commune. It started with Hazel Blears jumping ship before the polls closed; sabotaging your own party during an election is not the way to gain support and of course she is now grovelling in apology to her own furious activists. Then James Purnell resigns as soon as voting finished, a heavyweight and potential leader about which the revolt could coalesce. Except he goes out of his way to stress he is acting alone and actively discourages anyone to join him. Then we have Caroline Flint, robotically defending Gordon Brown one day and then damning him the next, not much credibility there and again no co-ordination with anyone else. So it went, individual talking heads with no leader, no programme and no plan.
Gordon Brown toughed it out, because among his many flaws he fails to recognise just how bad it is for his party on the ground. Or maybe he doesn't care? Or maybe he really is so deluded he thinks he can turn it around before a general election? Whatever motivates him he would not have survived a properly organised assault. This effort he beat off with help from apparatchiks and the self-interested. So, now things will rumble on to the Party conference season where that most stage-managed of events will offer little opportunity for dissent. The smart money is now probably on Gordon Brown leading Labour into the next election, and annihilation.