What is going on at the top of the Labour party?
It says something about the febrile state of things at the heart of government that so far this week three names have emerged as candidates for the Labour leadership – even though there does not appear to be a vacancy.
First it was Alan Johnson – the former postman who’s now health secretary. Then the word came that Harriet Harman was back into the frame and today, we learn that the spouse of Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper is in the line-up.
According to the Evening Standard the treasury minister is being asked to stand on a “Stop Harriet” ticket. Behind the move is said to be a fellow cabinet minister.
A senior figure is quoted as saying:”“Yvette Cooper is one of the most impressively clever ministers I have ever worked with and is obviously capable of being Prime Minister – which cannot be said about Harriet. She is also a working mum who went to a comprehensive school – and would be a very attractive contrast to David Cameron because unlike him she can say to families, ‘I know exactly what you are going through.'”
All of this, surely would not be happening if all was well at the top in Number 10. Do those who work closely with Brown now sense that change is inevitable and what we are seeing is the first round of a leadership race.
For the inevitable consequence of names being thrown into the ring like this is to further undermine the prime minister.
Maybe that is what those who are briefing the media want? Mind you we have seen all this “final days of Brown” stuff before and clearly he has got a lot of resilience.
It should be noted that’s Yvette’s academic record is probably ahead of her husband, Ed Balls, ans is certainly in a different league from Brown. She studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and then was awarded a Kennedy Scholarship in 1991 to Harvard University and finished her studies with a MSc in Economics at the LSE.