The ultimate act of statesmanship or a con trick? Gordon Brown’s bold stroke of self sacrifice shows signs of backfiring. Conservative rage is natural but Labour condemnation is something else.
Bad for the country, disastrous for the party and disastrous for Gordon actually. I can’t think of anything more likely to further enrage the electorate if they think the minor parties are cocking a snook at them. 76%voted against PR. We would face their animosity if we made the fulcrum of an issue that was never put to them”
Electoral reform was in the Labour and Lib Dem manifestos, actually. Nevertheless John Reid’s blistering attack on the Brown strategy revives the old Blairite Brown split at the worst possible time. Equally divisive, says the former Scotland and NI Secretary ( now chairman of Celtic) is reliance on Nats and the NI MPs who are fighting cuts in the block grant. Reid is backed by the ultra loyal veteran David Blunkett. Bioth of them clashed with Brown throughout their careers but this attack rises far above the personal.
Brown’s knew his stroke was bound to stoke Conservative fury. But his wrecking strategy is spreading from the Conservatives to his own side. The only consolation is that all three party leaders are facing mounting criticism, as nerves are stretched . Anger and division is threatening to turn what was a disciplined path to a new government into a full-blown political crisis.
An amazing example of how Brown’s move is splitting opinion came when Adam Boulton, the normally balanced political editor of Sky News almost came to blows with the spinmeister Alistair Campbell
Why not go quietly? Are you saying the voter want four more months of Gordon Brown?
Adam, you’re obviously upset
“I’m fed up you telling me what I think.. You totally unelected plotted this..”
Calm down Adam, calm down“
Watch the riveting encounter on YouTube
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London