Sunday, 13 September 2009

Labour Leadership Rumours, Chapter 112

One positive thing that can be said about the Left media, I suppose, is that you do get a better quality of inside info., especially on the epic, Tolstoy-esque Brown [lack of] leadership saga. Just flipped through the web-pages of the Observer, (which is actually the same as the Guardian online but we are supposed to pretend it's the Observer when it's Sunday, which I happily do - I like the quaintness of this challenge), and stumbled upon an article penned earlier today by Toby Helm. It concerns the latest plot (allegedly) brewing against our poor, deeply depressed PM. He writes (rather well, actually - although in typical, Graun/Observer style, there seems to be some side-debate going on about how to spell the word "install"):
There are new and potentially fascinating developments on the Labour leadership front, I hear. Serious plans are being formed by some Labour MPs to install an "anti-Brown" candidate as the next chairman of the parliamentary party. It is all part of a fresh attempt to oust the prime minister before the general election.

The MPs – including several former ministers – are urging senior figures including the education select committee chairman, Barry Sheerman, to put themselves forward to replace the current PLP chairman Tony Lloyd, who is seen by rebels as too much of a Brown loyalist.

Sheerman, a very senior figure in the PLP, has turned against Brown recently and would be seen by the whips as a de facto stalking horse, no less. Crucially, the PLP election, which will take place when parliament returns next month, will be conducted by secret ballot, meaning MPs do not have to own up to their choice.

Last night, Sheerman refused to comment but friends made absolutely clear he could and would be persuaded to stand if they could provide him with evidence that he would get sufficient support. Soundings will be taken among MPs at Labour's conference in Brighton later this month.

One backbencher said a challenge to Lloyd from Sheerman would throw the party into another period of "prolonged and vicious" leadership infighting.

The rebels are clearly trying to gain a foothold in positions of authority to try to persuade people from within that the game us is up for GB.

"An anti-Brown candidate like Sheerman would be supported by the 60 to 70 or so hardliners who are known to want Brown out, that is for sure," said one Labour MP.

"The question would be, how many more would join? That would depend on how things go over the conference season. The whips will pull out all the stops to prevent this. If it happens it will be ugly."

During the last coup attempt against Brown in June, Sheerman, who described himself as a "serialist loyalist" by nature, suprised colleagues with vehement criticisms of the prime minister.

He said he believed the parliamentary party was no longer listened to and he was not sure Brown was the right man to lead the party into the next election.

Sheerman complained to Lloyd about the way MPs such as Ian Gibson, who was forced out of Norwich North seat because of the expenses scandal, had been treated by the party machine.

The rebels are also planning to field their own candidate for one of the seats on the influential parliamentary committee, which conveys the views of the parliamentary party to the prime minister in regular meetings held in deep secrecy.

Some senior Labour figures who want Brown out, believe that if they keep up the pressure, and instal their people in positions of influence at the top of the party, then they might be able to persuade Brown to leave No 10 of his own accord. One theory is that Brown might cite his declining eyesight as a reason for leaving before the election.

The difficulty for the rebels is that they still have no candidate with whom to replace Brown. Alan Johnson, the home secretary, is still regarded as the best choice by most MPs but he has insisted he will not move against Brown and does not want the job.

Another backbencher said that despite Johnson's comments, the intention was to leave him with no option. "If things go according to plan, Johnson will come under intense pressure in the next few weeks."

Ed Miliband, who was tipped as a successor to Brown by Unite's joint general secretary Derek Simpson on the eve of this week's TUC Congress, is also being talked up as a possibility although he, also, remains loyal to the prime minister.

Combine this with thrusting new Speccy editor, Fraser Nelson's, devastating article this fair morn, citing an earlier, even more devastating article by Trevor Kavanagh from the same publication, about the personal responsibility Brown bears for the decline in just about every area of British existence, and you have to say that James Forsyth's question yesterday, "Can Brown make it through December?" is looking a tad optimistic. I'm beginning to wonder whether he's going to "make it" much past the Labour Party conference.

It simply can't go on like this - not in terms of Labour (who cares what happens to them?) - but in terms of the country. Someone has to say it out loud: we have no functioning government in the UK right now. It's leading to corrosion and decline at home and humiliation abroad. And for what? So a clinically depressed, medicated incompetent without a shred of decency in him can keep the job for which he is so patently unfit right up to the bitter end.

I've said it before and I'll say it again until that wicked, unelected fool is gone: even if they don't give a toss about the damage Brown has done/is doing to the country, someone in the Labour party better wake-up to the damage Brown is doing to their party and get rid of him with all convenient speed or the electorate will never, never forgive them for putting some wrong-headed, short-term form of self-interest before the needs of the nation they are supposed to serve.

But if Helm and the others are right, then we won't have much longer to wait until Brown is finally, finally, gone.



  1. In one way, he has to go, in another way, he is greatly diminished but could still cling on given the uselessness of the previous attempts to oust him. In one way, you can't have someone like Brown with his finger on the nuclear trigger, in another way, he would most certainly be stopped from using it. So, where am I going with this, D? I would personally rather he was kept in place but severely restricted because of his weakness and then, as you said, the public will never, never forgive them and the Tories will win by a landslide. Labour would die a slow, painful death, never to be seen again or at least remain as small a threat as the Lib Dems.

  2. It's a horrible sight, this creeping Labour senility; no more edifying than watching two cockroaches fight over the remains of a dung beetle - except there's too much at stake not to take it seriously.

    Sheerman, an MP in this neck of the woods, is big cheese in education - which is one of Labour's strong points, I think we can all agree - and a "serialist loyalist" to boot, whatever that is.

    Apologies for lowering the tone, but, aren't "loyalists", by definition, cunts? Isn't one of the most significant and defining characteristics of this ruinous farce that passes for UK parliamentary democracy the fact that a "my party, right or wrong" mindset amongst MPs has lead to "my party, always wrong" outcome? Sheerman, then, comes across as just another grievous party stooge.

    I can't help but think that the elephant in the room on this is Peter Mandelson. I get the impression that if Mandy's interests are best served by keeping Brown in place, the "rebels" will find themselves outplayed at every step - to the extent that it's a game of the 'dark arts', the rest aren't in the same league.

  3. "Aren't loyalists, by definition, cunts?"

    I'll remember that one, BHS ;) And you're not lowering the tone (there is no tone to lower on this blog!). And I'm seldom shocked by the truth. Just constantly infuriated by it.

    I wouldn't be too worried about Mandelson. He might be a slithering, smarmy, spivvy operator and cunning linguist - hell, he might even be a scary 'heavyweight' to some. But to me he has and always will be second rate because, in the end, he's got no ideals, no credibility, and he's got no code. He's a cypher. To-the-manor-born but bereft of that one thing that makes a decent politician out of the privileged British classes: patriotism.

    People like that are always cut down in the end in this country. He's a walking resignation-waiting-to-happen, living in the shadows of far better men, not least his own grandfather's. Basically, he's a waste of space who'll get what's coming to him soon enough (politically).

    I think Spidey's right. Let's take the cynical view and hope that vain twats like Mandelson, who's hypocrisy is only matched by his avarice, pulling the strings of the "ruinous farce" that is Labour (as you put it so well), keep Broon in place for the duration. The country's fucked anyway. The consequent annihilation Labour will suffer at the GE will at least guarantee that they won't be able to irritate the Tories while they get on with the long, hard job of unfucking Labour's Britain (again).

    Mandelson IS New Labour: full of shit and just about finished anyway.

    That's why I rarely blog about her ;)

  4. Thanks Mr D, you're too kind, as ever, and there is plenty of tone here; that much I know for certain =)

    It is nice to think that Mandelson's last push of dishonesty might actually destroy Labour - it's oft repeated that the Tories want Brown to stay in place; makes sense, on reflection.

    Hat tip to Mr Spidey for having a better view of the problem!

  5. Your views of these problems are always welcome, Holey. Mainly because they're always illuminating and extremely well-expressed :)

  6. Very thoughtfull post on leadership. It should be very much helpfull.

    Karim - Mind Power


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