Monday, May 10, 2010

How Does Brown's Resignation Change the Picture?

It's taken Gordon Brown a long weekend and several intense conversations with Mandelson and Campbell to make the decision that John Major reached within hours. Now that he's reached it, at just the right time to throw a spanner into the Conservative-Lib Dem talks, does it make an alliance with Labour more attractive to the Lib Dems?

Nick Robinson cogently outlined three problems for the LD's - they still get Brown until September; they then get another unelected leader; and they open themselves up to being called a 'loser's coalition'. In addition to those problems, Labour and the Lib Dems alone do not have enough seats to reach a majority (unlike a Con-LD deal), so need to bring in the varied interests of the nationalist parties and the Green MP. In those circumstances, do we get 'strong and stable government'? Not likely. And then there's the undoubted problem for Nick Clegg of entering a coalition with an as yet undetermined prime minister for the long term. If he joins with Labour now, he could end up serving under Ed Balls, David Miliband, Harriet Harman, or any one of several others? Is he equally happy with any of them? All, of course, unelected as PM.

New Labour has lived and died by the spin, and they are now using a last minute spin gambit from a discredited leader to give their tainted brand a few extra gasps of the breath of power. Like they needed to do anything else to remind us of their unsuitability for power.

UPDATE: Robinson accurately describes this as "an audacious bid by Gordon Brown to keep Labour in power, and to keep himself in power for a few more months". Audacious indeed.

4 comments:

Ben Ross said...

Firstly...please dont compare Brown to Major. Brown hardly lost by that much of a margin!

Secondly...the conservatives lost this election. 61% of people that voted, did not vote for the conservative party.

Thirdly...Brown has to remain in power whilst we take time to discuss who should be the next leader. He can hardly leave! What kind of mess would that leave us in!

Fourthly...You are a politics teacher. Can you please remind yourself of the differences between the parliamentary system and the presidential system. We have the former. No leader is elected. We elect our MPs, we elected more Lib / Lab MPs than Tory ones, they then come together and they decide who is the leader of the country. It is how we work.

Robinson is a twat.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the Tories reversing again. Proves their preference of power over policy.

GM said...

OK Ben - point by point.

1. John Major secured just over 30% of the vote; 9.6 million votes to Gordon Brown's 8.6 million votes (29%). The fact that the number of seats lost by each leader is not exactly proportional is one of the issues being debated now. What is clear is that each prime minister lost a clear mandate, but only one took the immediate and honourable decision to go straight away.

2. By the same logic you've applied here, nearly 65% of voters did not vote for Tony Blair in 2005, but he was still prime minister. The Conservatives in this election gained 97 seats on a 5%+ swing from Labour to the Conservatives; roughly the same swing that brought Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979.

3. Brown could easily have indicatad an intention to resign on Friday whilst still agreeing to carry on his constitutional duties as PM until a new one emerged. That he did not do so was not indicative of his observing some mythical constitutional nicety, but of his desperation to stay in power. That desperation was expressed yet again by his astonishing volte face today. Nothing has happened between Friday and Monday, other than the near closing of a deal between the Lib Dems and Conservatives, to make his resignation suddenly more necessary now. It has been made for pure party political advantage.

4. I notice Alistair Campbell resorted to the theoretical distinction between a parliamentary and a presidential system as a last desperate spin today, despite having played such a huge role in the past in elevating the premiership to precisely the quasi-presidential status he now denies it holds. Whatever the theory, people practically vote for the leader as well as the party. The leader who brings his party through an election has therefore gained a legitimating confirmation in his role as PM should his party win. The Leaders' Debates were predicated on this not unreasonable assumption, as was the Labour Party's own objection to John Major assuming the post of prime minister without an election in 1990. Politics takes place in the real world, and it is ridiculous - not to say desperate - to start assuming that people do not vote for the national leader. They do.

Strikes me that Nick Robinson's political knowledge, which would not involve making the same errors you have made, merits more than the criticism of 'twat'!

consultant said...

Actually Giles, Robinson was President of Oxford University Conservative Association and also national chairman of the Young Conservatives; both posts which can be neatly summarised into the word "twat".