Is Alan Johnson really Labour’s last chance?
…and could Paul Moore bring down the PM?
Under the title “Only Johnson can hold back the Tories” (I initially wondered if he was referring to Boris), the Independent’s commentator argues that Alan Johnson could be the man to save Labour from its impending electoral doom.
I suspect that Labour has one last chance to avoid a crushing loss at the next election, which is why it is interesting that Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, has been out and about last week. In the first of two interesting interviews, he showed how to take on Cameron: by going along with the public view of him as “likeable”, but by suggesting that his party wasn’t. In the second, he showed that he was a modernising reformer, but going with the grain of public-sector attitudes. “The task we set ourselves was to change the language,” he said.
He goes on: “…I know that Johnson himself said, a few months after Brown took over: “I don’t think I would have been good enough, frankly. I don’t think I’ve got the capabilities.” But times change, and admissions of limitations can seem more attractive as the clouds darken and others, in all parties, are found wanting.”
Rentoul himself concedes that even if Johnson could be the party’s saviour, he will not get the chance in the near future, quoting a cabinet minister as saying that it is the “settled will” of the party that Brown will fight the election – and as I’ve said before I expect the PM to limp on, continually boxed in, until a spring 2010 GE. But what about Alan Johnson as the successor to Brown? I’m doubtful as to whether a new Labour leader starting after the next election will ever make it to Downing Street, but might Johnson with his down-to-earth approach be the kind of leader that the party should look to as it enters opposition? Johnson is interviewed in the current issue of The Spectator, and is, according to Matthew D’Ancona, the “figure who bothers the Cameroons most”. The MP for Hull West & Hessle is a best-priced 10/1 with the “Magic Sign”.
The Independent leads on the whistleblower’s revenge, as Paul Moore says he has documents which “point a direct and accusatory finger at Gordon Brown’s responsibility for the banking crisis”, and he has called on the PM to resign. His documents allegedly show that it was the “reckless lending culture, easy credit and failed regulation of the Brown years that led directly to the implosion of British banks”.
Elsewhere, Andrew Rawnsley argues that the cabinet’s quarrels are warnings of the storms that lie ahead: “Gordon Brown himself did not say much at all”, while Matthew D’Ancona in the Telegraph describes Brown as passing the buck while Rome burns: “the increasingly isolated Prime Minister sits in No 10 and broods angrily over whom to invite to dinner” .
There’s more bad news for the government, as David Freud, their chief adviser on welfare, has resigned and will become a Conservative frontbencher in the Lords, also joining Cameron’s team of economic advisers.
A final thought, perhaps even inspired by Our Genial Host. Rentoul kicks off his piece by saying “Something has happened in British politics. Our ComRes poll today suggests that much of Labour’s core vote has been surgically removed and transplanted to the Liberal Democrats.” As far as it goes, fair enough, although I’d question how much of the Labour core vote will go Lib Dem at a GE. But even if we accept that premise, where does that leave the YouGov poll, with Clegg’s party becalmed on 14%? I can’t be alone on PB in finding it incredibly annoying when commentators talk up their own paper’s polls and ignore everything else.