A train wreck in slow motion…
Is Gordon Brown’s premiership disintegrating? So says the Guardian and when even New Labour’s own rag starts talking like that, you can bet we’re in trouble. Yet one wonders as to how it is disintegrating. Brown has a clear majority in parliament. No one has emerged to challenge him from within the PLP and, provided Brown actually pulls his finger out and actually does something of note, I think it’s unlikely that anybody will.
Still, all the signs of a government in trouble are very clearly there. The opinion polls after the election that never was. Frank Field, pipsqueak parliamentarian at large, talking back to the Dear Leader Mk II? That was very evidently a crack in the facade. Then the elections went awry…as the count came in, the utter devastation of the Labour Party became clear. Then came the Crewe and Nantwich disaster.
Piece by piece, this government seems to be disintegrating. The simplest of questions still resounds in my head with every new piece I read on the subject. Why?
Was it the 10p tax debacle or was it Darling’s back-tracking after it? Was it the campaign of slanders which Labour’s media circus ran against Boris, followed by the thingy-is-a-toff campaign? Now Graham Stringer is openly advocating a cabinet coup and even the Labour Peers are getting tetchy. Is all this really about the price of a loaf of bread? That’s what Deborah Matinson’s polling indicated just after Christmas.
The very Party apparatus is in chaos; Harriet Harman in charge of the vacant chairmanship portfolio among fifteen different other things, PR supremo Stephen Carter apparently got ‘elbowed out’ of the recent parliamentary election campaign and apparently Victoria Street and Downing Street aren’t exactly on speaking terms with each other. What the hell is going on?
Is there no policy around which the parliamentary party will unite? The answer is of course ‘no.’ Privatisation now carries with it an impressive and odious stench. Foreign policy, for all of Miliblair’s panache, still reminds people that our troops are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you’re left wing you think, “Bloody imperialists,” and if you’re right wing you think “Where’s the proper equipment for our boys?”
Immigration has begun to transform itself into a pole for opposition to the government as highlighted by Fiona MacTaggart’s most recent article for Progress. ‘Tough on terror’ looks likely to reward Labour with little but resounding criticism for pursuing the 42-days detention lunacy. With prisons overflowing and oil prices now stretching out past the Moon, is it any wonder, we’re not connecting on crime or the economy.
What’s left? Certainly not Labour’s inglorious performance on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Probably the best figure to emerge out of the debates on abortion was John Bercow, a Conservative!
Meanwhile, all the gutter-snipes, who were rarely seen whenever mountainous opposition to the policies of the leadership actually mattered to the movement, have been cashing in on the doomsday prophecies with media appearances.
I’m no friend of the government – at every opportunity I’ve endeavoured to provide consistent and considered criticism of the policies and principles of this government with which I disagree. Yet the opportunistic opposition now emerging from within the middle ranks of the PLP is positively shocking. I have to wonder, how long can it continue before we really do have our “John Redwood moment”?
Can someone please convince me that the current leadership – and all the potential challengers, who are much of a muchness – have not completely exhausted whatever limited potential they ever had when they set out in 1997?