Could Labour’s paymasters wield the knife?
This is the conclusion of Polly Toynbee’s first Guardian column of 2010.
“…Until now the unions have been Brown’s praetorians, whipped in by Charlie Whelan. But it’s time union leaders asked themselves if it’s in their members’ interests to see Labour crash out under Brown. The cabinet is frozen by individual self-interest â€“ shame on all of them. They want Brown gone, but none dares wield the knife without the others. Future contenders be warned: those who fail their party now may face stern questions about their leadership qualities in any future contest. The country doesn’t much like the Conservatives, but voters will throw Gordon Brown out â€“ unless Labour does first…“
This reminds me of some astute comments by the MORI founder, Sir Bob Worcester, during the leadership speculation of July 2008.
He said then in a Radio 4 interview that it wasnâ€™t the men in grey suits â€œthat Brown has to look out for, itâ€™s the men in black suits, from the trade unions, as they are the paymasters now..The party is skint, and if they say he goes, he goes.â€
Having lost a packet on Brown going during 2009 I’m loathe to recommend further bets on the subject – but Polly’s suggestion might just resonate.
Even taking account of a couple of recent big donations Labour financial position is still reported to be precarious and if the heads of the half dozen major unions threatened to pull the plug then Brown would have no real alternative.
Maybe I’m being a sucker again but I’ve just put a three figure sum on one of Bet365’s UK 2010 specials. The firm has 8/1 that Gordon Brown will “quit as Prime Minister before the next General Election”.
I got on at 10/1 and even the reduced price seems to be the best Brown going early bet about.