Tuesday, June 09, 2009

How long will Labour's Uneasy Truce Last?

It's nearly tea time and for the first time in ages, nobody seems to have resigned from the Government, so I guess for Gordon Brown this will have been a good day. After the "endorsement" of the Parliamentary Labour Party last night, he met with the other middle aged (mainly) men in suits with whom he's running the country, and, also with his Orwellian Democratic Renewal Council. No doubt we will soon hear what "reforms" we are allowed to have.

The Parliamentary Labour Party last night was, bar a few honourable exceptions, falling over itself to show how loyal it was to Gordon Brown. He, having presumably been forced into a uncharacteristic humility by his new found Eminence Grise Peter Mandelson, he promised he'd change, he'd listen more, he'd tell his friends to play nice, a bit like an errant husband who is determined to have his cake and eat it.

Only a few were brave enough to challenge the Prime Minister. Charles Clarke, for one - I mean, Charles Clarke - who knew he was anti Brown? Then came the Scottish Blogosphere's favourite Labour son, Tom Harris, who at least had the honesty to tell Brown to his face that he had to go. He told Newsnight as well, and the world on his blog, but now he's said he's taking a Trappist vow of silence on the matter. Tom had been tweeting all day that his trains were being delayed and he might not make the meeting - could this have been new Transport Secretary Lord Adonis trying to ensure the absence of one potential source of rebellion?

So Tom's going to keep schtum in the future, but he doesn't really need to say anything. Barely before Brown was back in Downing Street, Stephen Byers was telling the Progress meeting that Labour needed another leader to win the next election.

It's clear that whatever period Brown has left in office, and my money is on him leading Labour into the election, will be punctuated with invective and vitriol. The leopard will not be able or willing to change his spots and the underlying tension will erupt into further doomed coup attempts. Brown is good at this stuff - he fought a war of attrition with Tony Blair for a decade. He probably feels scared if there isn't a good power struggle going on somewhere. He'll fight them all off.

We'll be treated to MPs and chief stirrers like Clarke and Byers periodically doing the rounds of the 24 hour media circus to stoke the fires.

It's going to be a re-run of the Major Years 92-97 all over again - which is why David Cameron, frankly, has a cheek seeing as his party wrote the book in how to destabilise their leaders.

Neither side will win and the Government will continue to be effectively paralysed as it spends more time dodging the slings and arrows of outraged Blairites. The only people who will really love it all will be journalists. People who actually care about helping those who are losing their jobs and homes will look on in despair.

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