Friday, February 19, 2010

James Purnell's Departure - a sign Labour think they're going to win?

So, arch Blairite James Purnell is the latest of the 87 or so Labour MPs to decide to quit politics.

Why? Surely in a few short months he'd have had a shot at standing for Labour leader as a defeated Gordon Brown headed back to Fife in disgrace. He could have been the one to have given the kiss of life to the Labour Party as it licked its wounds in opposition.

Or, maybe Labour's tails are starting to come up again. They can see the polls tightening and the Cameron majority evaporating. Maybe they think, and some are starting to fear, Cameron might not get a majority and Labour would somehow be able to continue in Government. Remember that Spitting Image sketch after the 92 election showing Major's cabinet wearily walking back into Downing Street to clear up the mess they left when they trashed the place in anticipation of a Labour victory?

Of course a victorious Gordon Brown would be safe in his Prime Ministerial office for the moment at least. In that case, would Purnell really want to be stuck on the back benches twiddling his thumbs? I can't see Brown surviving a whole Parliament without a bit of inter-necine strife, but even if he was deposed, that leader would face an uphill challenge. Maybe Purnell has decided he just doesn't want to be that man.

It is pretty shameful that Labour MPs are leaving it until this late to decide they want to quit. If Gordon Brown decided he wanted to call an election on 25th March, he'd have a tough job to get candidates in place in time in places like Edinburgh South, West Dunbartonshire, Ashfield and now Stalybridge.

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