Will talking up a Labour defeat get Blair out earlier?

Will talking up a Labour defeat get Blair out earlier?

michael wills.JPG

    Brown aide says the party could be out of power for 15 years?

The main lead in the Guardian this morning is a report of comments made by one of Gordon Brown’s closest advisers, Michael Wills MP, at a fringe union conference meeting at the weekend that the party is on course to lose the next election. The former minster is reported to have said that voters have lost trust in the party, won’t listen to its message, and that Labour is heading for defeat.

He goes on: ” We have got good messages and we are delivering on public services so why is it they don’t listen any more? It is because they don’t trust us. Iraq is an important part of that. The presidential style of the prime minister – which brought us great dividends in the early years and now we are seeing the mirror image of that – is also part of it…Unless we can get people to start listening to us, unless they are prepared to hear the messages we are putting across, we are going to lose next time. There is no question about it.”

The paper notes that Wills was helped by the Chancellor to gain his seat and has subsequently seen him as an important adviser on British identity and the public mood. He used to be a TV producer.

    But is this a real warning at all or is talking up the prospect of defeat the latest tactic by the Brownites to get Blair out and their man in?

The weakness of the Chancellor’s position is that he has shown himself to be reluctant to take steps that would force Blair’s resignation. One aspect of the weekend YouGov poll of Labour party members that wasn’t given prominence is that two thirds, 66% to 27%, were opposed to Blair being ousted even though the majority wanted him out sooner rather than later.

    So with the Brownites reluctant to take the final step and the party showing it hasn’t the stomach for a coup Tony Blair is left holding all the aces.

As the Tories showed with the oustings of Thatcher and IDS sometimes the only way of getting rid of what’s seen to be a failing leadership is to take a proactive step. Labour has not got to that stage yet.

In the betting the Brown price has eased further – to 0.39/1 – while the Tories are favourites to win most seats.

Mike Smithson

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