Would hurting the Tories come before his own career?
In May last year I suggested that a possible outcome to Labour’s leadership saga might be that Gordon would fall on his sword if he felt that bringing in someone new would make life tougher for the Tories.
At the time I wrote: “Only a few have suggested that he might come to recognise that his leadership is undermining his party against the dreaded Tories and that he will just fall on his sword. The very idea of this is so alien to the images that Brown projects that the notion just gets swept aside.
I think that this might be wrong. For the one enduring quality about Gordon is that he is totally wedded to the Labour movement and he is fully versed in its history. He will be only too aware of the way that his short leadership might be portrayed. To make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the movement by voluntarily giving up the post he had strived for most of his adult life might appear better than hanging on until the end.”
Well after another gloomy week for the Prime Minister when most of the attention has been on the battle to succeed him Steve Richards in the Indy floats the same idea but with the added dimension that Brown has thought about this.
Richards’s writes: “..It is still possible that Brown might go of his own accord before an election, without a new job offer. When things were going badly last time around, he told an ally that he felt guilty about what was happening to Labour under his watch. If he felt a Tory victory could be prevented by his departure he would consider going. I suspect that Brown would do anything to stop Cameron and Osborne securing power, including stepping down for a vote-winning alternative.”
It might be that such a move would be dressed up as being for health reasons – but that’s nothing new in British politics – Harold Macmillan went like that in 1963.
Such a development would have a major impact on the leadership election that would follow. Gordon would be standing aside to give Labour a better chance.
My sense is that there would be a desire to unite round one person and that would be Alan Johnson who would appeal to the core base and would offer a stark contrast to Cameron. This would not be the moment for one of the Milibands or Harman/Cooper/Balls all of whom have bigger negatives attached to them.