Should we now be thinking about the succession?

Should we now be thinking about the succession?

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    The Saturday columnists make grim reading for Gordon

After a week in which the parliamentary highlight was Vince Cable’s joke comparing the Prime minister to Mr. Bean it’s the day for the Saturday columnists to get their teeth into the fluid political situation.

By far the most devastating read for Gordon is from Matthew Parris is the Times – an article that would carry even more weight if the writer had not been so consistently hostile to Brown over many years.

In the Independent the normally quite supportive Andrew Grice, under the heading “The succession issue is in play. It’s that bad” observes that the “Under the bus game has begun”.

“Labour MPs are gossiping about who would take over if Gordon Brown resigns before the next election. That is how bad things are after a disastrous week for the Prime Minister dominated by the scandal over Labour’s secret donations..All politicians enjoy guessing who would take over if their leader fell under a bus. But just five months into the Brown premiership, it is ominous that Labour backbenchers discuss the relative merits of Jack Straw, Alan Johnson and David Miliband as they stare gloomily into their beer.”

It’s a bit rich for members of the PLP to be even thinking this – never mind talking about it to journalists. For it was they who only six months ago decided, by not nominating any other candidate, that Gordon should get the job without having the bother of fighting a leadership election.

Gordon’s current position, I believe, and Labour’s would have been substantially better if he had had to fight a proper contest against a credible candidate. The very process of campaigning and getting the movement to vote for him would have made him a much better politician and have given him a substantial platform. The PLP didn’t want this so they can hardly complain about the outcome.

Amongst Labour figures in the “next prime minster” betting Johnson, David Miliband, Straw, Benn and John Denham are all at 5/1. It’s hard to see anybody else coming into the frame. If there was a pre-general election leadership contest, which I very much doubt, my money would be on John Denham.

Mike Smithson

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