>> Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Preface: I'm lucky to be writing this, as my internet connectivity at our Oregon Estate (read: two bedroom apartment in a posh suburb) is dodgy. The better half upgraded a few weeks ago, the provider dropped the ball, we've been without since 31 December, and I'm nicking bandwidth on some nearby, highly unreliable, open wifi. Upgraded access is restored here on 11 January, which conveniently is the same day I brave the upgraded security regime to fly back to England for the new term.
This latest Labour hang wringing over the leadership (and electoral suitability) of Gordon Brown has taken another ham fisted turn, as covered by the New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, et al. (OK, I'm sure The Sun does cover it, but first we get to read about how Cheryl Cole lost her virginity at 15, Rachel Weisz is everybody's favorite MILF, and Patrick Vieira is leaving Inter Milan for greener pastures, presumably Man City, but then it is The Sun).
I'll make this short: this is stupid. Labour's chance to ditch Brown, as I pointed out at the time, was this past June. An Alan Johnson leadership would have helped Labour, but now that Johnson instead opted to assume the cabinet portfolio of doom (i.e. the Home Office), he's in a worse position to help Labour. With Labour slowly regaining traction in the polls over the past two months or so, such that a hung parliament is not out of the question (and third place behind the Lib Dems now seems unlikely), provoking a leadership contest four to five months before an election is lunacy on the scale of Michael Foot's 1983 Labour manifesto. Stating it lightly, this does not help.
The best analysis, as is often the case, can be found at UK Polling Report. Yes, Brown is a clear drag on Labour, while Cameron is the opposite for the Tories. However, the opportunity costs involved in a leadership challenge and then election while the party ought to be busy writing its manifesto and campaigning on it in a unified (for Labour) manner are immense.
Labour had the chance to ditch the Right Honorable Dour Scot in June, and they didn't. It's too late now to do any good.