September 03, 2008

The Macavity Theory

Tomorrow September the fourth is a date for the diary, it is (according to what I have gleaned from lurking on PoliticalBetting) the last date when items can be added to the agenda of the Labour Party conference. This is important because it is the last realistic possibility of coup within the Labour Party to get rid of Gordon Brown before the summer of 2009 due to the parties rules. It is hugely unlike that anybody would want to get rid of him then, with defeat looming it would be much better for anybody with a chance of becoming leader to ride out the storm and then present themselves as the fresh face afterwards. However Daniel Finkelstein of The Times is proposing an interesting scenario is Gordon Brown going to do a runner before being defeated at he election in 2010?

Wouldn't it be exactly in Mr Brown's character, goes the theory, to disappear just as the election was about to start, when loss was inevitable?

So a few months before the election brown resigns 'to spend more time with his family' (if he still has some spin control) or for 'health reasons' (if he doesn't) and a new caretaker is installed to lose the election, probably Jack Straw (if they can get him to accept this poison chalice). Brown's place in history is safe. He becomes one of only tiny handful of Prime Ministers never to win an election, but he manages to dodge the title of worst Prime Minister ever and the only Prime Minister ever to go from the position of a landslide victory to a landslide defeat.

The result for Labour would be quite catastrophic. Brown stays on long enough for the Brown poison to infect the rest of his party, but vanishes just before the election and not to be replaced by a shiny new leader but by a caretaker and a power vacuum. The Tories and Lib-Dems would destroy them, every policy would be a statement from the caretaker with absolutely no idea that the direction the party would go in once a new leader was elected after the election. Even if the policy ideas put forward where in themselves credible the platform wouldn't be because of the huge doubt around what on earth would emerge once a permanent leader arose. Not that any of the ideas would be credible. As all of the big players would be not only trying to save there own seats they would be positioning themselves in relation to their rivals. This means cosying up to their union paymasters and the hard left, and in the full glare of national publicity. The party would shift into the election in full frenzied piranha tank mode with everybody biting at everybody else.

I can only hope he does it. Cameron would win anyway but by disappearing at the crucial moment it guarantees that it will be the Lib-Dems leading Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and the total analation of Labour as a political force (plus the bankruptcy of the party shortly afterwards). Unfortunately it requires a bit too much self knowledge on the part of Gordon Brown to be considered a high probability.


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