What do we think of the Brown lifeboat rumour?
One good measure of how badly things are going for a leader is when apparent loyal supporters spend their time trying to work out how their person can be got out of the way painlessly leaving them some dignity.
Last summer, at the bottom of Brown Slump I, a story was going round of a possible global role for Brown in Africa funded by the Gates Foundation with Bill Clinton as the the major fixer. This was going to be the magic move that would save Labour from the electoral devastation that the polls were then pointing to with even worse numbers than we are seeing at the moment.
Now there’s a report of Brown Magic Lifeboat II – a suggestion that this April’s G20 meeting in London will, in the words of Jackie Ashley in the Guardian this morning, agree on “the need for a new global financial regulator, whether based inside or outside the IMF.”
And who would get that job? Ashley goes on..“I’m told the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has a favourite candidate to head this new body – Gordon Brown. She is said to be quietly pushing the idea behind the scenes and getting quite a good reaction from other leaders. Obama can be won over, says my source, and even Sarkozy would be pleased to see the man he’s been tussling with off the European stage.”
Apart from the issue of whether Brown or the Labour party would actually wants this Ashley then discusses what she thinks could be the biggest problem:-
“. After the events of the past few weeks, culminating in the Lloyds-HBOS fiasco, Brown’s CV as financial regulator is – how shall we put it? – looking a little tarnished. It was meant to be a brilliant coup, keeping both banks in the private sector, limiting taxpayer exposure and showing Brown’s deft use of private contacts. That isn’t how it looks now…
Up to now Labour has had the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps that should be benefit of the ignorance, because the vast majority of people struggle to understand the financial system, and therefore struggle to apportion blame. But this may be changing. There seems to be a quite dramatic slide downwards in the opinion polls and for the first time David Cameron’s message that it’s the fault of Brown and Labour, for not regulating better, is getting through. The personal involvement of Brown in the Lloyds-HBOS deal – and if it had to be fully rescued by the taxpayer we would be talking about one of the greatest corporate disasters in British history – comes at the worst possible time..”
The real problem, surely, is that unlike the Tories and the Lib Dems that the Labour party has neither the will nor the means to deal with a failing leader.
On December 30th 2008 William Hill put up a market on which of Brown/Clegg/Cameron would be out first. At the time the bookie made Clegg the 11/10 favourite with Brown at 7/4 and Cameron at 5/2. I wrote: “I think that they have got this wrong and that the Brown odds offer the value.” The latest Brown price is just 4/7.