Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Labour's 'outbreak of unity' and why a rebellion would have been more honest

The dust settles on what Ed Miliband described as the 'speech of Gordon Brown's life', Harriet Harman triumphantly hails the 'Labour fightback' all is well with the Labour government again...

With trust so dangerously low in the government, I cant believe that the public (or the media) could bring themselves to believe that there has been a sudden outbreak of unity amongst Gordon's cabinet. What I find genuinely surprising is that the Labour strategists believe that a renewed message of unity and experience under the Brown banner is really the way to move forward.

We all know that the reality is markedly different, Ruth Kelly's surprise resignation reaffirms to me the mood of discontent and unease that encircles the Prime Minister. Her resignation is just one chapter in the story of a conference dominated by whispers against Brown, from Miliband's 'Heseltine moment' to John Cruddas attempting to drum up support for a new 45% rate of tax.

The plotting goes on, from Miliband's Blairites to Cruddas' disaffected left wingers. Barring a miraculous and unforseeable poll turnaround, Gordon Brown remains on borrowed time. There are so many potential flash points between now and a likely 2010 election, I am convinced he will not survive to lead the party into the next election.If that is the case, then this shallow and short-term 'outbreak of unity' will look even more ill advised a few months from now.Particularly if Brown is ousted as soon as after the Glenthroes by-election.

The Labour party ought to have used this conference as an opportunity to oust Gordon and launch an open and honest leadership debate. Yes, the timing would not have been ideal, but there never is an opportune time to knife an incumbent Prime Minister. This 'show of unity' is dishonest and shallow. It is one that I am confident the electorate will not buy.

Perhaps it is not time for a novice Mr Brown, but it is not the time for a disunited, split cabinet to continue to govern either.

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