Friday, 1 May 2009

The vultures are circling...

I wasn't born the last time Labour lost power in a UK General Election, remembering which seems to be all the rage at the moment - given this year marks the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Election that brought Margaret Thatcher to power.

I do, however, have a vague recollection of a November day in 1990 when Margaret Thatcher's time in office expired and she resigned as Prime Minister to be replaced by John Major. I say vague - I was six. I remember much more about the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, but that is another story.

As a student of politics though, I've read a number of accounts of Thatcher's downfall. You can watch a three-part documentary on her downfall on YouTube as well. Its an interesting watch.

I was thinking about how that situation parallels with the current one. While Gordon Brown has managed to keep his Cabinet together (for now) backbench MPs are queueing up to kick the government.

Charles Clarke said "There have been things that have been done recently which have made me feel ashamed to be a Labour Member of Parliament."

Stephen Byers, David Blunkett, Tony Blair and others have lined up in opposition to policies recently delivered by the Brown Government. An un-named
backbencher with a marginal seat spoke out too - "The man has lost his authority – he's had a charisma bypass."

While no one at Cabinet or sub-Cabinet level has yet spoken out, the knives are out and a leadership challenge looks inevitable. The only question is who will it be?

Michael Portillo says it well in the first part of that piece:

"Nothing is more dangerous than a panicking backbencher."


UPDATE: The Telegraph says Cabinet Ministers are starting to question the PM, that he's losing control of MPs. One went as far as saying "It's all so reminicent of the last months of John Major. So maybe I got the "the end is nigh" stuff right... I just picked the wrong Tory downfall as my evidence..


Sam 1 May 2009 at 18:29  

I would add that, more importantly, nothing is more dangerous than a media with the scent of blood.

Brown is certainly a pretty useless leader, but the framing of every political discussion in terms of Brown's failings makes it easier for people - MPs, commentators, columnists, bloggers etc - to attack him.

A side-effect of this chronicling of Brown's failure is that the opposition gets a pretty easy ride. But would Cameron & Osborne really have avoided this economic mess?

Anonymous,  5 May 2009 at 09:35  

Interesting lesson from 1979.

Jim Callaghan said that the SNP tabling a no confidence vote was Turkeys voting for Christmas, and sure enough they went down to just 2 seats losing 9 others.

They really shot themselves in the foot that year.

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