Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Not all the bastards are Tories.

Every journalist is reporting that Labour MPs from the Cabinet downwards want Gordon to go now, but nobody is prepared to step forward and wield the axe, leaving it to the dynamic duo of Hewitt and Hoon to demand a secret ballot over the PM's future.

Is there a part of 'Shut up - you aren't helping' that they don't understand?

We are less than five months away from a general election - one that we are expected to lose and one that even the most positive of Labour supporters has to know will be the toughest in a generation. Right now, we expect our elected members to be on board and at least presenting a semblance of unity. Senior members like Hoon and Hewitt should be leading the way and not actively trying to ensure a bigger defeat that will set the party back decades - because nothing guarantees public opprobrium than a divided party. I have said before, given that we remain in economic difficulties and face some years of austerity, then will the country thank us for engaging in twelve weeks of navel-gazing and internal fighting? Not a hope. Quite aside from the fact that we will end up with a leader with a matter of weeks to make his or her mark in the public imagination and seize control of the story, while the Cameron story is well-established and will steam ahead.

After a reasonably good start to the year, with Cameron faltering over this misguided tax giveaway for marriage and the hole in Osborne's financial planning and Gordon having a pretty good opening PMQs, then Hoon and Hewitt kick off this storm in a teacup.

If the next election has a precedent - and I don't buy the theory that all history is circular - then it may well be 1979. If Cameron wins a majority - which will still be a massive leap forward for the Conservative party in terms of electoral swing - then it will more than likely be a small one, which means that we will face an election in 2014/15 in the same situation as 1983, just hopefully without a war to generate a pro-government swing. In an unusual, long-term prediction, I would forecast that the government elected this May will not win when it next goes to the nation.

One thing we must understand is that if we lose, we get the recriminations and internal factional fighting over double quick and get on with taking on the Tories. But first, we have an election and if we are going down, then by God, we should go down fighting, because it the Labour Party is a cause worth the fight.

If Hoon, Hewitt, Clarke and the rest don't get that, if they cannot sublimate their petty bickering to that common good, then they should consider whether wearing a red rosette at the next election is really for them. Help like theirs we don't need. If they felt so strongly that Gordon was unsuitable for the job, then they should have pushed an alternative candidate in 2007, rather than waging a politically damaging guerilla war ever since. Right now, they seem to feel that surrendering the country to Cameron, Osborne and their mates is a better option than a Labour government.

That isn't an option for us. As a party, we either stand together or fall apart. I know which is the better option.

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