Desperate, Labour MPs realise that they have no future with Brown, who will continue from gaffe to gaffe.
Unhappy memories of the last painful weeks of John Major’s premiership are evoked by the death-throes of Gordon brown’s administration. The reshuffle of his cabinet has been widely regarded as absurd, with the promotion of two ministers who have already been caught on the fiddle, and the elevation to the Lords of the ridiculous Alan Sugar who has not had a nanosecond’s experience in government.
So what is going through the minds of the two hundred Labour MPs in marginal seats who face defeat at the next election? Desperate to hang on to their constituencies, they realise that they have no future with the stubborn Brown who will doubtless continue from gaffe to gaffe.
Imagine a British prime minister being booed by elderly veterans at the D-Day commemorations! If that was bad enough, is it creditable that he praised American the troops who landed on 6 June 1944 on “Obama beach”? And this from a premier who fancies himself as a military historian!
Brown’s backbenchers know that the slimy, self-serving Peter Mandelson has only considered his own future in climbing aboard the sinking ship and has effectively abandoned the Labour Party. He is now more of a liability than an asset and his opinion will carry no weight with MPs facing political oblivion.
Doubtless his advice to Brown has been, hang on for as long as possible, tough it out, put in the remote hope that the economy will recover sufficiently for the voters to give Brown some credit. This strategy is obviously attractive to Brown as it offers a faint hope of avoiding the ignominy attached to Jim Callaghan, the only postwar prime minister never to have won a general election.
There is just one bold gamble that could save Labour, and that involves replacing Brown in a coup. The argument against this is that there is a mistaken belief that another change in the leadership would prompt an immediate general election, but there is no constitutional reason for this.
A new leader could claim that he would like the few remaining months of the parliament to show his metal, and stay in power until the last moment. Of course, in the meantime this will involve a bloodbath, but the alternative is collective suicide.