A guest article from Tim Dodds
Thereâ€™s much talk about Labour dumping Gordon Brown before the next general election. Here are some considerations, from my perspective, that may count in Labourâ€™s deliberations:
One thing is certain; the game is on for a new leader. The final plays in the game may not be this year, next year, or even before the next general election. But make no mistake Gordon Brown is in an unrecoverable position. The horizon ahead of him is full of bear traps, mostly self-made, such as the protests on fuel and car taxes.
Among the contenders the desire for power and the top job is in the DNA of pretty much all ambitious politicians. Assessing the most propitious moment to strike requires careful thought and the collecting of able lieutenants and supporters. So, not to manoeuvre for the top job is a tacit admission of lack of ambition. But the converse is that to manoeuvre is to destabilise the party and government, at the risk of alienating potential supporters and the electorate. Tough call for any aspiring politician.
The most likely change scenario is some sort of putsch around this yearâ€™s Labour Party Conference. That would give any new leader time to turn things around. However there are a number of things in Gordonâ€™s favour such as: the outcry if the country had a second unelected Prime Minister; the paucity of talent in the parliamentary Labour party; the fear that an election process would create discord and division and remove any goodwill attaching to the winner of the contest.
So if I was in Labour Iâ€™d want Gordon to hang on, hunker down, and hope for the best. If Gordon can get to the summer recess without any more disasters, then things could quieten down, and perhaps, perhaps he could slowly re-build his political momentum. But when confidence is shot and fear abounds, itâ€™s difficult to steady nerves.
The reality may be somewhat different, panic could set in among Labour MPâ€™s fearful of losing their seats and their political careers for a generation or more. Fear of loss is stronger than that of greed. Panic is exceptionally difficult to control once it sets hold. Itâ€™s the unexpected thing that often triggers a panic.
So to conclude, whether any challenge to Gordon happens this year is uncertain. Odds against Iâ€™d say. Given his desire for the job, heâ€™s unlikely to want to give it up. Like Smaug in Tolkienâ€™s The Hobbit, he doesnâ€™t want to be prised from what he most treasures. To do that, as Jackie Ashley said in a recent article, requires â€œdesperate times [driving] people to desperate measuresâ€.
Tim Dodds is a regular reader and runs the Lightwater blog.
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