Could Polly’s column herald the start of the “revolution”?

Could Polly’s column herald the start of the “revolution”?


    But who will carry out the great lady’s command?

With the first of the September conferences, the TUC, just about to start the Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee, returns to the theme she was developing a few weeks ago that Gordon, the Labour leader that she invested so much in, has to go.

Her dismissal of what’s happening at Number 10 is vicious and she clearly she is on a mission. Her first paragraph sets the scene “..The smell of death around this government is so overpowering it seems to have anaesthetised them all. One bungle follows another and yet those about to die sit silently by.”

The piece goes on “…A cabinet of minnows and spineless backbenchers include many – perhaps most – who want Brown gone, but lack the nerve to act. They wait for someone else, for Brown to walk away or for a proverbial bus to save them from the task. First they put it off in July: wait until after the summer, many said. Now it’s wait until the party conference – as if that “speech of a lifetime” could make a scrap of difference at this stage. Then it will be “Don’t rock the boat before the Glenrothes byelection”. Will that deliver the electric shock to end the inertia that neither Crewe nor Glasgow East could? Or will they put it off until after Christmas, or catastrophic May elections? Some say a recession is no time for internal wrangling; but the longer they leave it, the longer the leadership question hangs over them. It will not go away.”

Today’s column is significant because of the influence that Toynbee and her Guardian “twin” Jackie Ashley wield within the movement. If they of all people within the media are not on side then what hope is there?

There’s little doubt that what she’s trying to do is put fire in the bellies of key players who could be ready to rock the boat. These might initially be one or two of the big trade union bosses. Cabinet ministers would come later.

    The challenge they’ve got is that their quarry is perhaps the most capable manipulator of the Labour movement’s political forces that we have seen in generations. Gord would not have got where he is today if he did not know how to work the system and conspirators are going to have to tread with great care.

So is the Toynbee pressure going to lead to anything? It might and much depends on the conference season. The mood at the TUC gathering is important and maybe two key or three players could come to a loose deal to back a coup giving a Miliband or a Johnson the confidence to move.

The last thing they want is for a Charles Clark type intervention that nobody supports.

Later today on PB: The moves on the Commons Seat Spread markets – “Is punter sentiment becoming more aligned with the polls?”

Mike Smithson

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