Wednesday, 18 November 2009

"We've got to get rid of Brown..."

Not my words, those, but my old student newspaper editor Peter Hyman's on tonight's Newsnight - a show that has an increasingly ragged, tendentious, feckless air to it in these bunker days that we're living through. Hyman surely reflects a Blairite consensus that would include, inter alia, the likes of his fellow former PM-speechwriter Phil Collins, John Rentoul with his AJ4PM campaign, and the retiring Stephen Byers MP of North Tyneside. But the midnight hour is nigh - can anyone be found among the Parliamentary Labour Party with sufficient backbone for the bloody work being proposed?
How bad could it be for Labour if the Party is electorally annihilated on Brown's watch? If he leads then he will lose, for sure - but how ruinously? One shudders a little at the thought of the floating voter weighing his feelings on another 5 years of Gordon's doughty individual conscience. And could Brown stick around after defeat and play a Michael Howard-like role in helping the team find a new young winning captain? Doesn't seem remotely likely, does it? No, the odds suggest he'd be off in high dudgeon as of May 31, still believing he was right, while Cameron got the removers round. By that measure, yes, Brown should take the bullet now, for all of our sakes.
Like John Rentoul I admired Blair more by the end of his premiership than at the start, when I found it hard to look at him, never mind listen. In that 'final act' swansong period of Blair's he made the stunning observation that, in respect of the century-old split in Labour's origins between proletarian ILP and namby-pamby Fabian, he felt himself to be naturally amidst the party of the former. That he could say this, whether or not he believed it, was part of my creeping regard for him.
His admirers are generally a less breathtaking lot. Last week as I watched Sally Keeble MP on Newsnight effectively warning Brown not to (further) estrange the middle-class Mumsnet crowd over the axing of subsidised childcare for kids of 2-years-plus, I felt ancient, decrepit hackles rising. Be it said, mine is one of those households very, very glad of said subsidy. But is it really, in Sally Keeble's eyes, the moral last ditch of a Labour government? Is it even worthy of consideration as an 'untouchable' in this, the moment of enforced cutbacks in government spending? At any rate, it's got the New Labour ultras rolling their eyes in O tempora fashion. I don't know if I want to sit beside those guys 'n' gals anyhow, and I'm not sure how many of them are really concerned about whether (as some surely hope) the green leather benches can be remuneratively traded for the boardroom. But since it's not my livelihood at stake here, I freely declare from my swivel chair, 'Yep, you've got to get rid of Brown.'

No comments: