How risky is putting his authority on the line?
Given the backlash from Smeargate, the post-budget poll moves against Labour and the widespread ridicule over his YouTube video you would have thought that the last thing the Prime Minister should be doing at the moment is to put his authority on the line in a commons vote on MP expenses.
Yet that was the message coming out of Number 10 last night in what the Guardian describes as a “raising of the stakes” by Brown “…in the face of a sustained revolt within the Labour party.”
As the paper puts it: “…Brown faced a challenge last night when the cross-party Commons standards and privileges committee announced it would table its own amendment on expenses and allowances during the debate tomorrow..The committee, whose members include five senior Labour MPs…. will propose that the system of MPs’ allowances should be referred to the standards watchdog, Sir Christopher Kelly. He would report in his own time. A yes vote for the committee’s proposals would represent a humiliating rebuff to Brown whose central aim in his now notorious YouTube video – to introduce interim reforms before the summer recess – would collapse.”
What happens if he’s defeated? Given that this seems to be his personal decision there could be serious ramifications.
Is it being far-fetched to suggest that he’s putting his leadership on the line? I don’t know but his whole handling of the issue has opened him up to all sorts of criticism.
A massive problem is that the number of Labour colleagues who think he is an election winner appears to be diminishing – and if MPs think they are heading for defeat what’s the point of doing something that would keep Brown there?
Meanwhile the independent website LabourHome has a thread under the heading “Brown has to go, and soon”. The discussion is not very supportive of the leadership.
William Hill now make Brown the 1/7 favourite to be the first of the three party leaders to step down. You can get
7/2 7/4 that Brown won’t lead Labour at the election. I got bets on both these markets months ago at much better odds.