Should Gordon apologise for the emails?
In all likelihood, a year from today the election campaign will be underway, and a month after that this government may well have been ejected from office. Will the spring of 2009 be looked at as the time when the government’s demise finally became irrevocable and terminal? For all his grandstanding on the G20 stage, the poll bounce was modest, and Brown has subsequently been brought back down to earth by the tawdry realities of domestic politics.
Draper’s apology earlier today has cut little ice, and in particular his assertion that his emails were hacked into has found few takers. Indeed, has he muddied the waters further by apologising to Samantha Cameron as well as David? – were there perhaps more smears to come out on the Camerons apart from those already out? And what does the episode tell us about Labour’s relations with the unions with Andrew Dodgshon’s name appearing on the email, even if he “declined to get involved”?
Brown being called upon to apologise is now becoming a regular event – firstly it was for the state of the economy, and now Cameron, who is “absolutely furious”, is demanding a personal apology from the Prime Minister for the e-mails, and for a guarantee that such messages will not be sent again. Should Brown apologise for the emails – could he yet regain some of his self-avowed “moral compass” by drawing a line under the episode and declaring that such practices have no place in his government?
The problem for Labour is that almost regardless of how big or otherwise this issue turns out to be (Fraser Nelson thinks the damage limitation is looking good so far), whether or not there is more to come from Guido, is that the next few months look set to be unremittingly bad for the government. Hope flickered briefly in the G20 afterglow, but is there any more good news to come or is it damage limitation all the way now? Darling is going to announce the worst growth figure since WW2 in the Budget, the Euros and locals are going to be bad, and if there weren’t enough horrors from the expenses scandals already, wait until July when the full details are going to emerge – bad enough that the possibility of ministerial resignations is being mentioned which could delay any planned summer reshuffle.
So, if it’s bad news all the way to the summer recess, and the autumn really is the last chance for a pre-election leadership challenge to the PM – does the unholy trinity of Smeargate, expenses, and disaster at the ballot box give the final chance for Gordon to be ousted – or if not then for one or more leading figures to speak out on the emails or expenses and thus improve their positioning to replace Brown in 2010?