Gordon Brown – is a band wagon starting to roll?

It starts to look like a feeding frenzy among the media at least, some of it from entirely predictable sources. Sunday is usually political comment day and this one is no exception. The BBC is slightly hobbled by the ritual of having to give prominence to the Lib Dem conference but the internet spurns mere rituals. Even the political weekly the New Statesman owned by Geoffrey Robinson, Gordon Brown’s mentor and friend, could hardly hold its peace until next Friday and joined in the frenzy this morning. The NS political editor Martin Bright blogged: “Until this weekend the Westminster village was in denial about the gravity of the crisis in which Gordon Brown finds himself….. The Prime Minister should realise that for every MP who has raised his or her head over the parapet there are three r more that feel the same way. There can be little doubt now that a candidate of substance would gain the 70-odd nominations necessary to trigger a ballot.” No sign yet of that “candidate of substance,” though.John Hutton the Blairite cabinet minister has put his head above the parapet – to defend Brown but also remarkably,not to condemn rebels whom Brown has actually sacked..

“I am absolutely not going to condemn any of my colleagues who want that debate but I think we have to support the government and we have to support the work we are doing because it is absolutely the right direction for the country.” That means John Hutton is refusing to condemn Brown’s openly declared opponents – hardly a stirring defence of the boss’s tactics.

Chief whip Geoff Hoon was very careful not to condemn the rebels out of hand “There’s a meeting of Labour National Executive Committee next Tuesday and they will deal with that…. If people have something to say in a democracy they should be able to say it.” It’s kid gloves for the rebels at present for fear of attracting many more. It shows how weak Gordon Brown’s position has become.

As the Observer reports, the strategy of the rebellion triggered by Siobhain McDonagh is to try to force the party to send out nomination forms to all MPs inviting them to renominate the current leader at conference. “The rebels’ aim is to encourage as many MPs as possible – the dozens who are unsure whether or not to stay loyal to Brown – to withdraw support by refusing to renominate him on the forms”. Party officials are refusing to issue the forms but the rebels, advised by former Lord Chancellor and old Blair flatmate Charlie Falconer , may mount a legal challenge.

Abstentions could kill of Brown more quickly than the search for 70 rebels to force a contest. The caution of his cabinet colleagues suggests at least an each-way bet.

  • Dewi

    Rather a motley bunch of assassins but the timing of each successive pronouncement well decided to create momentum. Who is the pupeteer? I think we should be told….

  • Dewi

    well designed – sorry

  • DC

    Essentially there aren’t any candidates, so this is extremely pointless.

    Tony Blair had a very powerful concept in New Labour in the way it was communicated and presented, but he had his own 9/11 when the structures of his liberal interventionism brought the whole structures of Brown-Blair New Labour down with it.

    New Labour has gone into the crucible of an over-stretched policy in Iraq, Brown should have stuck to all the best bits of New Labour but he didn’t now it all seems hopelessly lost in reconstructing it.

    Miliband had his own flair but with his stance over Georgia his foreign policy was more akin to the macho concepts of sovereignty as supported by the late 80s-90s Tories, placing himself outside of much Labour’s interdependent, humanitarian interventionist Euro model.

    The message has become mangled, as it did with Blair in the end but there is something still durable with New Labour if they can only rescue the good bits and refine the message to suit the current crisis.

  • Brian Walker

    Frustrating interview .. why was O’Dowd not pressed on why the Robinson-McGuinness statement on taking j&P;forward was suddenly not good enough; and Donaldson likewise on the IMC statement on the IRA .. and both of them, what do they expect from Brown on Tuesday.. and what does ” a first class political crisis” actually mean: – going to the courts, reporting to SoS that the Executive isn’t functioning or what? A limp, bored and boring canter round the course. You have to try to pursue an argument as an interviewer not just sling out plain person’s questions… but then I suppose I’m getting old..

  • Brian Walker

    Sorry my last comment relates to the Donaldson- O’Dowd interview in the blog above – finger trouble!

  • Bandwagon? Sounds more like a tumbril.