Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reasons Why Brown Won't Be Challenged

Another couple of Labour MPs this morning joined sacked junior whip Siobhain McDonagh in calling for a leadership 'debate'. It's causing great excitement in Westminster and on the blogs, but there is still a sense of unreality about it all. A small handful of unknown MPs do not make for a leadership threat, even if they do make for a mischievous and frustrating news cycle for the Labour leader. For all the party implosion that this seems to represent, the odds must surely still favour Brown staying as leader until the next election. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

- The Cabinet's gimicky Birmingham meet-up saw them all making up-beat noises about Brown and the direction the party was going;

- There is no certainty that any other prominent Labourite could do any better than Brown, and the most prominent of them - Miliband - has arguably already shot his bolt;

- A leadership election would plunge Labour into even more chaos when what they desperately want is a bit of stability to work on their message;

- Labour is not as ruthless as the Tories in this regard;

- Brown was only elected a year ago, and elected unopposed - how stupid would it make the entire party look to now accept that this was a mistake?

- Yet another leader in just over a year would surely make a General Election unavoidable, and Labour would lose - no Labour MP wants to risk their seat this early;

- Despite the much publicised calling for nomination papers by several MPs, party rules require 70 nominations and an alternative candidate to spark a leadership election - that seems unlikely.

Of course, politics is nothing if not unpredictable, and there is no saying where a movement can go once it gains momentum, but the most likely scenario for Brown is that he continues to face damaging sniping (as, for instance, in an article written by several Blairite MPs calling for a change of direction) rather than a direct leadership challenge.

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