But are the Tories right to back Brown?
On the day the day that Mrs Thatcher returns to Number 10 for the unveiling of a portrait it is perhaps ironic that one part of the public sector that she decreed was a privatisation too far – the Post Office – should be causing so much difficulty for Mr. Brown and his government.
The Guardian reports today that senior cabinet figures, David Miliband, and Alan Johnson have voiced concern and that the main union has had to be assured that no action will be take against the parliamentary private secretaries who have signed a motion against the move.
Although we all use the post office much less, hence the current problems, its very existence has a place deep in the public’s psyche and doing something like this is a big political gamble.
To add to the Labour embarrassment Ken Clark, has announced that the Tories will be backing the government – so there is a chance that this will only get through with opposition support. This might be a smart thing to do in Westminster terms but how will it play outside?
Wouldn’t going along with the rebels be better? I think that Cameron & Co have got this wrong. A government defeat would have been much worse for Labour and they are now associated with the policy.
Meanwhile a poll of MPs by the Independent that only 28% of Labour backbenchers back the part-privatisation deal.
All this is fag end of government stuff just like what we saw towards the end of the Major years. Large numbers of MPs recognise that within not so long they’ll be looking for work and there becomes less point in following the party line. At least they can go down having fought for something.
The political impact is that this makes the government look weak and split – something that will be underlined by having to rely on Tory support.
Maybe Cameron will seek to add to Brown’s woes by making this his big theme at PMQs this lunchtime?