Sunday, June 07, 2009

Challenging times

To say the least, this has been a difficult week for the Labour government and for Gordon Brown in particular.

We've suffered an expected drubbing at the shire council elections and I'm predicting that UKIP will do very well out of the European elections tonight, certainly in the West Midlands region. Prior to that, of course, we had the unforgiveable slap in the face for party workers from Hazel Blears, timing her resignation to cause maximum embarrassment to the leadership and kicking the determined volunteers across the country who work without the benefit of thousands of pounds of allowances for their homes.

While we've got James Purnell calling for Gordon to stand down and rumours of other plots rattling around the Westminster village, this all seems hugely self-centred. Senior members of the Labour Party seem to have forgotten that they should be running the country and not running down their Prime Minister. Just two years ago, nobody in the parliamentary party had the foresight to put up a challenge to him for the leadership, yet now we're supposed to let them decide that his time is up?

The public tolerated us replacing one prime minister without an election, but I would expect that a second would make the current rumbling demands for a general election rise to an unstoppable crescendo. That would seem to suggest that we'd face a late summer/early autumn election with no time for a new leader to stamp their authority on the party or to establish their image in the eyes of the electorate. We're in the middle of a recession and while there may be the first indications of green shoots, they are nothing more than that and it seems unlikely to me that there will be much to shout about even by the time we get to June 2010, the last possible date for the election. I'm not sure that the electorate will look kindly on us for spending the next few weeks and months gazing intensely at our party navel and fighting internal battles rather than focussing on sorting out the economy - having dumped the man who has won global praise for his handling of the problem.

The only argument for Gordon to go is that the party will do less badly at the polls without him than with him at the helm. Frankly, I don't buy this argument. If you are one of the electorate who has decided to vote against Labour, then I'd be amazed if that decision has been reached because of the Prime Minister. Really - that doesn't seem likely.

I can certainly say that in my limited experience of fellow party members, there's no demand for a new leader - we'd like to see everyone get behind Gordon and the Labour Party and stop worrying about their positions for a leadership contest.

The next few days will be interesting. The parliamentary Labour party meet on Monday evening, but we'll see if anything happens during the day. If Gordon can survive to Wednesday, I think he's safe.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

15% was poor, but it is a recession.