Is Miliband the only one who can be the assassin?

Is Miliband the only one who can be the assassin?


    Would he get the kudos for putting his career on the line?

The latest ICM poll means that all the main pollsters who report at least monthly on public opinion are showing almost exactly the same figures. Three have Labour at 25% the other, ComRes, has it at 26%. And the Tory shares and overall leads are in the same ball-park as well. There can be no doubt about what would happen if there was an immediate general election.

Add this to the waves of critical media analysis of the Brown premiership in this first anniversary week and throw in the possibility of an absolutely disastrous showing in Henley and you have almost the ideal conditions for someone to act against Gordon – someone prepared to risk everything by bringing the issue to a head.

So who could that someone be? It has to be a cabinet minister with the standing of a future leader who is relatively well-known to the public. That limits it to Jack Straw, Alan Johnson and David Miliband. The first two probably ruled themselves out because of the pivotal parts they played in securing for Gordon his coronation a year ago. It was Straw who lined up the 313 nominees that were enough to stop anybody else getting on the ballot and it was Johnson who rubbished other potential challengers, particularly David Miliband.

The young Oxford graduate who was to become Foreign Secretary held out for a long time – long enough to differentiate himself from Team Brown and at the same time to ensure for himself a plum job. If he was to put that position on the line by resigning or even just threatening to resign that would almost certainly open up the leadership issue and Gordon’s days would be numbered.

There’s a view, based almost solely on Conservative party experience, that he who wields the knife will not end up with the big prize. But would that happen with Labour now? Given the likely electoral outcome for Labour if Gordon stays then the assassin could be amply rewarded by a grateful movement.

Whatever I am limiting my general election spread betting until the situation is resolved. Labour under a new leader could be a totally different proposition.

Mike Smithson

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