Is Gordon safe?

by Stephen Tall on September 6, 2009

Martin Kettle’s article in The Guardian – suggesting that the week beginning 12th October is make-or-break week for those Labour MPs who’d like to oust Gordon Brown – has sparked a fresh bout of Labour leadership speculation. The Economist’s Bagehot is having none of it:

Labour MPs have had their chance. And it wasn’t in June 2009 or in October 2008. It was in 2007, when almost all of them lined up, baa-ing, to endorse Mr Brown. They were too numbed by more than a decade of unthinking obedience and by cowardice to do anything else. That is a fact and a failing that, however uncomfortable it seems, they will have to live with between now and the general election—and, if it proves as calamitous as seems likely, for a long time afterwards.

A fair observation – but is it an accurate one? Might Labour have time for one last putsch; and if Mr Brown was elbowed aside (or, more unlikely still, voluntarily departed) would it be enough to save the party from a landslide loss at next year’s election? What do LDV’s readers you think?

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I think they do still have a chance and I think they can and will get rid of him before the end of the year.

The key is Mandelson. He protected Brown in June and appealed to Labour MPs that they would be forced to go to the country very quickly and be wiped out. Pretty soon the “being forced to go to the country” argument goes out of the window as a new leader (Johnson?) elected late this year could quite easily pre-announce an election in the Spring, virtually when they would have to dissolve parliament anyway.

I think a new leader soon would make the difference for Labour between electoral wipe-out (under Brown) and hence no chance of power for perhaps a decade, maybe for ever or a more manageable loss with a chance to be a serious contender in 2014/15.

Never underestimate the power of impending electoral wipe-out to focus minds. Don’t be surprised to see some manouvering in the background followed by a retirement by Brown on “health grounds” or similar. Frankly that would be a much more dignified exit for him than what is coming if he refuses to budge.

by Mark Reckons on September 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm. Reply #

I think the more relevant question would have to be . . .

Is Gordon SANE?

by Silent Hunter on September 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm. Reply #

I think if he goes at that time there’ll have to be an election unless Johnson puts forward a comprehensive and radical democratic reform package. The public aren’t wearing a fag-end Labour Govt elected on the false premise of `don’t vote Lib Dem to let the Tories in` and `end of boom and bust` what will they think of a new coronation or an internal election while in power? It’ll also see them out of office for a generation. People keep saying that Labour can pull it out of the bag. I don’t buy it – they are down to core vote and that won’t win an election. They are out for a generation.

by John on September 6, 2009 at 3:06 pm. Reply #

Well the story doesn’t seem to be going away does it?
So he can’t be perfectly safe. But who knows the future?

Oh and Silent H this may be of interest:

by James S on September 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm. Reply #

I think you’re wrong that Brown departing voluntarily is even more unlikely than a coup – I think it’s the only way he’ll be out before the GE. I don’t think removing him would do the Labour Party any good – there’s not enough time for a new leader to find his/her feet (assuming that there wasn’t a mass electoral revolt at a second midterm change of PM, which I think is likely), and there’s no grand conciliatory measure that can rejuvenate the Labour Party now. In 1990-92, it wasn’t just Major replacing Thatcher that made a difference, it was the substance and symbolism of Heseltine coming back into the centre of government. Even Mandelson’s return isn’t nearly so resonant, and anyway that fox has been shot.

by Malcolm Todd on September 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm. Reply #

I think Gordon going willingly is the only way he will be got rid of. As Hopi Sen as explained the literal sense of forcing out will constitutionally be impossible in a couple of weeks or so, and the ‘health grounds’ or ‘family grounds’ forcing outs, have not been successfull so far and I cannot see what has actually got worse for Gordon. The polls are similar (others are decreasing which is invaluable to Labour), the economy looks set to recover and the Labour election machine, is beginning to start moving again, it is still effective.

I do not think Gordon will be forced out or choose to go, he has resisted every attempt so far and the outlook still does not look pretty for any would-be PM. He will lead Labour into the election, he still has a lot of support from local Labour parties, and when stripped to a core vote this is very important.

by Robert Brown on September 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm. Reply #

As a Liberal Democrat I would like to see Labour try to get rid of Gordon. Whatever the result it could only damage them. If, as seems likely they lose office at the next election Gordon should then stand down or be removed. From the poll figures it seems that the Tories will win and presumably they will. However Dave and George do not exactly inspire confidence as prospective Prime Minister and Chancellor and much can happen before people complete their ballot papers.

by Stanley Theed on September 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm. Reply #

It’s a toss-up whether a new leader could give them a chance – but I think by now even Labour realises that Brown is going to be the second Labour PM in history (after Callaghan) who never won an election. It would be ironically appropriate for Brown to complete the pattern by getting kicked out of office.

I am disinclined to think that another midterm PM would be possible – the disarray in the Labour party’s ranks would leave them wide open to a Tory-led confidence vote, which would effectively hand Cameron the election. If it happens it’ll mostly likely be a “Brown serves out the end of his term but somebody else stands in the general election” thing. Probably couldn’t win on that basis, but it might mitigate the damage enough to keep them from falling into third place.

Still, anything can happen in Parliament.

by Andrew Suffield on September 6, 2009 at 7:53 pm. Reply #

It looks like he might have to go actually go for health reasons if the rumours in this story are correct.

by Mark Reckons on September 7, 2009 at 7:54 am. Reply #

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