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rotten boroughs - with a mighty bound he was free... - The Villages

Date: 2009-06-09 11:13
Subject: rotten boroughs - with a mighty bound he was free...
Security: Public
Music:vaughan williams
If you'd asked me, towards the end of last week, I'd have told you that Gordon was headed for the dole queue. That he's managed to survive is, I suppose, a tribute to his talents and to the fear he inspires in MPs.
The European elections were disastrous for any number of reasons. It was Labour's worst performance at an election ever, but they've managed to spin it. Across Europe voters - the ones who could be bothered to vote - turned away from Socialism and towards the centre right, which took a little of the sting out of Labour's performance. In addition, Europe really doesn't have a very big place in the public consciousness over here. I don't remember the last European elections being so closely watched and dissected; they're being seen now as something of a referendum on the credit crisis and the government's handling of it, and of the MPs expenses thing, and both those things are spinnable.
What is embarrassing - shameful, actually - is that the protest vote allowed UKIP and the BNP to gain ground - in the case of the BNP sending two MEPs to Brussels, and I'm ashamed to say that one of them came from my home area. UKIP are a bunch of cartoons, and I found it deeply ironic that a party which is anti-Europe was so delighted to do well in European elections.
Like the European elections, meetings of the Parliamentary Labour Party aren't heavily-reported, as a rule. But yesterday's attracted the kind of attention Princess Diana used to get.
It was built up as a make-or-break meeting, when Gordon would face a roomfull of fractious backbenchers, all of whom wanted to tear him limb from limb. There would be resignations, calls for him to step down, automatic weapons fire, attack dogs. That kind of thing.
In the event, it was a bit of a damp squib. Charles Clarke called for Gordon's resignation, but Charlie does that to every Prime Minister. Stephen Byers called for his resignation, but he wasn't even at the meeting and he's hardly fondly-regarded within the Party, for a number of reasons.
As I understand it, Gordon put on the performance of his life. He was described a `humble,' `caring.' He got applause. He got away with it.
So, boxes ticked. Cabinet sorted out; check. European elections spun; check. Council elections...well, probably sortable, and it's the General Election that really matters; check. Backbenchers mollified; check.
This is not to say he's entirely out of the woods yet. In the next week or so he'll be facing a no-confidence motion in the Commons, but I think he could squeak that too.
If he does, it's unlikely that we'll have an election until next Summer. By then, the expenses system will have been reformed and - if present trends continue - the economy may well be picking up, and Gordon can go to the country as the man who got the big issues right. He could win. He probably won't win big; I think his majority will be absolutely tiny and he'll have to cut a deal with parties like the SNP, which will wreck his next term.
But really, I can't remember any other time like this in British politics. Historians are going to be picking over this period for years and years.
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User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 11:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, and isn't part of the problem the lack of a successor? Brown and Blair have so successfully warped the promotional process that there is no one near the top job who is actually capable to mounting an attack for it. Surrounding themselves with yes men and women and the mediocre or those who simply want a quiet life is a good way to ensure leadership longevity.
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User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 12:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think a bigger problem is that everyone is terrified of standing against Gordon and losing, because that'll be the end of their political career. But yes, there don't seem to be any obvious contenders. Miliband might go for it if he could get enough support, but he's young enough to bide his time and see how things shake out. Alan Johnson seems to be the favourite at the moment, but he's just been made Home Secretary and he'll want to enjoy that moment for a while longer. Plus I can't see him as anything more than a caretaker leader.
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