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Changing leader?

Nick Robinson | 13:37 UK time, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Extraordinary.

Gordon BrownWeeks before the country gets to choose who should be its next prime minister Labour MPs are considering taking the decision for them. If they succeed a man or woman who has not been elected by the public would replace a man who has himself not been elected by the public.

This is without precedent - in this country at least.

Margaret Thatcher was toppled by her own MPs but that was two years before an election. Her successor John Major triggered a "back me or sack me" leadership ballot in 1995 - also two years before an election.

However, those who want to see Gordon Brown go might look to Australia where Bob Hawke was installed as leader of the Labor Party and faced an election 25 days later.

He won that election by a landslide, ending over seven years of conservative rule. Critically, however, that coup made Hawke leader of the opposition and not prime minister.

Now, of course, there may never be a secret ballot on the Labour leadership let alone a decision to remove Gordon Brown. After all, when James Purnell walked out of the cabinet calling for a change of leader his coup attempt failed within hours.

After that, backbench critics of Brown decided that they could not rely on the cabinet to act for them - either because they lacked the courage or because, for those like David Miliband and Alan Johnson, resignation would destroy their chance of leading.

The other main obstacle to a contest was the fear of many Labour MPs that the pain of public division might be worse than sticking with a leader who many are convinced is taking them to certain defeat.

This call for a secret ballot is designed to overcome those two obstacles - by giving the initiative to backbenchers not the cabinet and by bringing forward the pain of public division so that the fear of it is removed as a factor.

Don't believe Labour MPs and ministers who say they've not talked about changing leader. For months the talk's been of little else.

However, up until now it's looked like staying just that - talk. It may yet. This could all be over about as quickly as it began. Keep watching though because it could lead to a change of prime minister sooner than you think

PS Feel free to mock away at my on air dismissal of yesterday's rumours about a cabinet minister resigning to force Gordon Brown out. That'll teach me. No minister has resigned, of course - not yet anyway!

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    I'm not holding my breath. None of this changes the fundamental problem that no-one in the Labour party apart from Gordon actually wants the job of leader right now. Why on earth would anyone want the job of leading the party into the worst election defeat in living memory? Anyone with aspirations to be leader would do far better to keep their powder dry and take the job after the election, when they will have 5 years to get their act together before they have to face the electorate.

  • Comment number 2.

    My, those commentators on Guido Fawkes' site are an angry lot aren't they?!

    Your site is good enough for me until the others can wash out their mouths with soap :)

  • Comment number 3.

    What makes anyone think that a new leader would save New Labour? Putting in place another unelected PM would destroy their credibility with the electorate. Much better to put together a coherent manifesto for the future, attack the numerous Tory deficiencies and improve their communications with the public.

  • Comment number 4.

    ..although saying that:

    "If they succeed a man or woman who has not been elected by the public would replace a man who has himself not been elected by the public."

    He has been elected by the public though, surely? Just not while he was standing in the position he now holds.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Do you know? What could happen is Brown will start humping about looking crestfallen and deflated and then our Great British people, as is our wont, will actually feel sorry for him (again) and his ratings will go up.

    That could be the strategy. Hope not.

  • Comment number 7.

    A Brown Ballot ??
    Hope they use, Recycled Paper, to reflect the recycled story.
    ...

    Good New Labour cop, Bad New Labour cop.

    [Note: Works better in the Foreign Office.]

  • Comment number 8.

    And of course all this talk and plotting has nothing to do with getting the country out of its current mess and everything to do with trying to ensure yet another disastrous period of office for Labour. And then they call the Tories the party of self-interest. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 9.

    The chance of Labour MPs voting in a secret ballot is nil. Secret ballots are something that never enters the Labour psyche, ballots in the Labour party are organised after the result is decided. There is no way that the sheep of the Labour party will vote to go voluntarily to the slaughterhouse, which would happen if they got rid of Brown. Brown must be secure in the knowledge that none of his party ,most of whom detest him, have the courage required to stick their heads above the parapet, knowing they would be deselected at least for doing so.

  • Comment number 10.

    4#

    Elected by the public in his constituency as their local MP.

    Not by the PLP as their leader, he was unopposed.
    Not by the electorate as recognised leader (and director) of any prospective government.

    Therefore he has no mandate from the PLP or from the public as Prime Minister. QED.

  • Comment number 11.

    2#

    If you think thats angry, go further down and read the responses to the "Anjem Choudry gets more in benefits than a British Army private earns" piece.


    You'll need quite a big consignment of soap!

  • Comment number 12.

    Don't Hoon and Hewitt realise they are doing more damage to the credibility of the Labour Party than to an individual like Gordon Brown. Would you trust work colleagues that stabbed you in the back? Would you want to employ these people? The politicians seem to forget they are elected by us the people of Britain and they should be working to try and improve the economy/life of the citizens. They are paid from the public purse and should not be spending their working days plotting and scheming.

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't believe there is a mechanism to get rid of a labour leader except at Party Conference time, unless that leader wants to go; so even if 40% of MPs voted against Brown he'd be able to stay on as leader until the October conference if he wished to do so.

    Makes you think about the timing of Blair's departure, he would appear to have had much more insight about what was happening to the UK economy than Brown ever did.

  • Comment number 14.

    Time for the Dear Leader to press the panic button.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 15.

    4. Snide:
    He was elected by some of the rather silly public, yes, but not as PM of course. Mandelson was not elected by the public or anybody and yet he is in the House of Lords, parachuted in. Likewise the Lords Kinnock (who swore he would abolish said House if he were elected PM - HA!).

    As for Hain - another one fastracked back by Brown as his supporters were dwindling - he was hated in South Africa who booted him out, send him back to SA say I.

    What a dreadful shower.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    From Nick's blog: 'The other main obstacle to a contest was the fear of many Labour MPs that the pain of public division might be worse than sticking with a leader who many are convinced is taking them to certain defeat.'

    ***********************************

    So 'pain of public division' would lead to certain electoral defeat but the alternative, 'stick with GB, would only mean er, uhm, certain electoral defeat.

    I like it ! 8-)

  • Comment number 18.

    ~6 Flamethrower

    Funny you should say that - that's what I thought when he said on Andrew Marr's show "that he was the underdog" - trying to get votes that by playing the 'sympathy card'.

  • Comment number 19.

    12. At 2:22pm on 06 Jan 2010, mgnsmith wrote:
    Don't Hoon and Hewitt realise they are doing more damage to the credibility of the Labour Party than to an individual like Gordon Brown.

    *******************************

    As both Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are soiled, goods, it hardly matters who gets damaged, surely?

  • Comment number 20.

    Sometimes, leaders can hang on too long. Strength of mind and thick-skin just becomes pig-headedness. The writing is on the wall Gordon. Time you went and gave the country a better chance of avoiding a large Tory majority...

  • Comment number 21.

    12#

    "Would you trust work colleagues that stabbed you in the back? Would you want to employ these people?"

    LOL LOL

    brilliant!

    Gordon and his henchmen spent 10 years doing precisely what to Blair in order for Gordon to get the top job???

    You're funny! Get yourself on Britains Got Talent.... three yes's!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    If Hoon and Hewitt are so determined to see Gordon challenged, surely a better way of deciding the issue would be for them to call for a vote of 'no confidence' in the House.
    Completely unconstitutional but since when has that bothered Labour.

  • Comment number 26.

    #mgnsmith - another one. The Labour party faithful must be working through the electoral register to come up with all these new bloggers!

    I am ok with there being no secret ballot - as things stand there is clearly division within the Labour Party and that can only be good news for Conservatives and Lib Dems.

    Maybe a good time for UKIP to get on with the show as well.

    Labour are out and drying up faster than a prune in the sun.

    Nick did say it was going to get interesting.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think Brown should say that it is a really good idea. He should announce that he is not scared of facing any form of a vote because he is the best person. He should say a prolonged discussion would damage the party and the economy and say that the vote should take place in the next two weeks so that he can get on with running the country. He should use the opportunity to put forward his policies without having to do the 'knock the Tories' routine. In fact it would sideline Cameron. It would silence the doubters. It would be a great chance to show fearless leadership. But has he got the courage to hijack this move?

    In fact the advantages are so great and the risk so slight that I wonder whether Mandy thought it up.

    Some Labour MPs haven't understood the drift in the polls. The election is between the person who may not be as bad as we were told and a person we do not quite trust. There is no clear replacement amongst the MPs and any elction would be between a Brownite and a Blairite, just at the time that Blair is going to get a rough ride at the Iraq enquiry. So Brown is actually one of their stronger cards.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hmm! Country nearly bankrupt, increased industrial action, freezing temperatures and snow, Labour government taking the country down the pan.

    Sounds like the winter of 78/79 'all over again.

  • Comment number 29.

    Small point here.

    We DON'T elect Prime Ministers in the country - we elect Members of Parliament, and through them, a governing party.

    I know the media love to pretend that it is otherwise, but sorry, it is just not so.

    Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, John Major, Maggie Thatcher - none of these were elected Prime Minister by the voters of this country.

    Our system is simple - we elect MPs to the house of commons. Those MPs, through the system that their particular party use, then say who their leader is. They can use a secret ballot, a show of hands, draw straws or just declare someone - there are no rules how this has to happen.

    That person is then Prime Minister. If they change leader, then the new person becomes Prime Minister.

    It absolutely does not matter a jot how much Tory Supporters on these boards, and on the appalling and pointless Have Your Say, jump up and down and accuse the Prime Minister of being unelected, that is how the system works.

    And guess what? If the Tories win the next election, then Cameron will become Prime Minister - and we will have NOT elected him.

  • Comment number 30.

    Its bizzare

    Either Labour MP's don't want to win the election or they all hope to move to another party.

    No wonder Labour is trying to re-connect to its core vote - any swing voters must believe their vote is better elsewhere.

  • Comment number 31.

    22 OO wrote:
    As ever Nick you show why you need to be sacked - complacent, lazy & to cosy with the new Labour ruling elite.


    So the Unthinking Right are having ago at BBC coverage again. Plus ça change. On balance, I'd say Cameron and his party would rather Brown wasn't toppled, since they don't think Labour under Brown has a chance of beating them. Despite the bizarre timing, a leadership battle could help revitalize Labour. And it needn't be divisive; Cameron's wasn't.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm skeptical that anything will come of this as Labour MP's have shown a total abscene of backbone or "spherical fortitude" over Brown. Of course this is manna from heaven for Cameron who is likely to have 15% poll leads by the weekend, why try and land a killer blow when Labour is going to do the job for you anyway by imploding?!

    In terms of if Brown goes, long time followers of Irish politics will probably remember a quip from Conor Cruise O'Brien about the chances of a plot to topple another great political survivor Charlie Haughey. O'Brien opined "I will refuse to believe he is gone until I see him at the crossroads in the light of day, staked through the heart and smothered in garlic!"

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Nick

    You were rather dismissive of Labour Party rules on the Daily Politics. I see the Labour Party has issued a press notice in response to the last Blairite gasp. But there is a rule about Leader/deputy leader nominations being invited annually in the absence of a vacancy. I hope (as a member of Labour's NEC) we will resume that practice (abandoned in 1997) in 2010 after the next General Election to endorse the Labour victor, or select a new Leader.

    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/peterkenyon/2010/01/labour-party-plotters-led-by-patricia-and-geoff-who.html

  • Comment number 34.

    #25 Zydeco "If Hoon and Hewitt are so determined to see Gordon challenged, surely a better way of deciding the issue would be for them to call for a vote of 'no confidence' in the House.
    Completely unconstitutional but since when has that bothered Labour. "

    Good point, well made. However, a vote of 'no confidence' in the house is a vote for 'no confidence' in the government, surely.

    As Bill at #10 has pointed out there won't be a secret ballot because the Labour party doesn't like the thought of an 'elected' leader as it smacks too much of loss of control for the union paymasters.

    Besides, they have already lost the confidence of the voter, so it is kind of irrelevant.

    Aaaahh
    (Sitting back, basking in the glow of the coming end of socialism and all its destructive forces)

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm really enjoying watching this pit of Nu Labour vipers eat each other, but for the nation's sake we really do need a General Election now.



  • Comment number 36.

    on another point - will we see a whole new set of bloggers if the Tories get into power?

    Perhaps we'll see a lot more Labour supporters on the site - complaining about the govt and a lot less Tories supporters, who are now relieved that their party is in power.

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 37.

    The sooner we have an election the better to resolve all this uncertainty - we can then face the real pain of the PSBR. As to who to vote for? I am a typical floating voter - voted Thatcher, Blair and even SDP. However, in a real dilemma this time as all candidates do not impress me - they are all career politicians with little to say. I would like to vote Tory but cannot bring myself to vote Cameron

  • Comment number 38.

    Maybe not so extraordinary... you did mention that Lord Mandelson had been uncharacteristically quiet recently.

  • Comment number 39.

    While I agree that its very interesting that the Labour Party appears to be getting very frightened of the next election I feel we need to remind ourselves that we dont have a presidential system of government, ie we do not elect the prime minister, our system is based on parliamentary confidence, ie the person who can maintain the confidence of parliament, whilst of course being themselves an elected member of the House. I sometimes feel the BBC, and other media commentators, talk as if we have an elected president. If we dont like this system then its up to us to seek to change it.

  • Comment number 40.

    #29 Joss

    At the risk of repeating ourseleves 'again', many people choose a party on the strength of the party leader.

    A weak leader is less likely to get the party elected than a strong one. Which is why Gordon is so .....special!

    He got in on the coat tails of the charismatic Tony Blair. Not through his own personality or leadersip.

    Take Neil Kinnock - never got the Labour Party in power, not because he was a bad politician and didn't care. Far from it.

    People just didn't like him and when weighed against Maggie, the majority of the population felt that she was more competent.

    Leave Gordon where he is, he is doing a grand job in losing the Labour party the next election. Top man!

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sure the Tories dread losing Brown.

    Just hearing the man speak is priceless to them!

  • Comment number 42.

    29. At 2:49pm on 06 Jan 2010, Joss wrote:
    Small point here.

    We DON'T elect Prime Ministers in the country - we elect Members of Parliament, and through them, a governing party.

    I know the media love to pretend that it is otherwise, but sorry, it is just not so.

    ---------------

    How many times.

    You are just dead wrong on this. Strict legal form, that is how it works, but it takes a really short sighted person to actually believe it.

    See my post on the previous thread if you want to understand how the system works, and it will help you look slightly less foolish the next time you decide to post.

  • Comment number 43.

    29#

    All true Joss, in a technical and legal sense.

    However.

    As, Harriet's Court Of Public Opinion knows only too well, whoever is leader of a political party has a significant bearing on how the electorate decide to vote, regardless of how their local MP performs and regardless of what political colour they may wear.

    Whoever is leader of a political party has a significant influence on the direction taken by that party and on the policies likely to be pursued.

    So regardless of the fact that technically, a PM is not elected by the electorate, in many ways, whoever is leader of a party is important to the electorate.

    so, it does matter.

  • Comment number 44.

    If Brown was really canny he'd call a general election now. It would show him as bold and decisive and may just about avoid a Cameron government.

  • Comment number 45.

    Brown can't lose, methinks clever ploy by Lord Mandy.

    No-one would vote against him for fear of mobile phone clipping top of head, Brown is galvanised by all the support he gets and the public at large decide to vote for him because all those people at Westminster said he's the best man for the job.

    Quick someone challenge Cameron's leadership!

  • Comment number 46.

    It’s too little to do anything and too late for this movement when you have General Election at door. I personally feel, doesn’t matter who goes and who stays but there will be a lot to learn to Labor Party from the Next General Election. They have to do better than this to stay in power....

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    What is this "not elected by the public" rubbish? let's see how many PMs have been chosen by their party some time before an election - Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Hume, James Callaghan, John Major, etc. If you mean chosen without any form of election (a) Gordon Brown isn't unique (every Tory leader pre Edward Heath was chosen without election) (b) presumably if there is a ballot for the Labour leadership, it would be up to anyone who wished to be leader to put their name forward.
    It's also clear that there are certain ex-Ministers whose hatred of Brown is such that they'd happily ruin any conceivable chances he might have of winning the election. After all, destabilising Brown with consequential damage in the opinion polls/election must be waht they're after. No-one seriously expects such a ballot, do they?

  • Comment number 49.

    31. At 2:50pm on 06 Jan 2010, pdavies65 wrote:
    22 OO wrote:
    As ever Nick you show why you need to be sacked - complacent, lazy & to cosy with the new Labour ruling elite.

    So the Unthinking Right are having ago at BBC coverage again.

    -------------

    What fun.

    Are you suggesting that right wing supporters are less able or less willing to think than left wing ones?

    Seems a bit of a strange assertion, considering the voting demographics.

  • Comment number 50.

    Brown should call their bluff and go for the secret ballot. He would probably win as most Labour MP's have no appetite for a leadership election and then he would look like a strong leader going into the election. But doubt he has the guts to do that.

  • Comment number 51.

    There's no doubt that whatever the system we have that's in place, the public essentially are meant to elect the leader. The system is broken if that's what they think they're doing but aren't. Likewise if they have a leader they didn't elect under such conditions.

  • Comment number 52.

    15. Flamethrower:

    "As for Hain - another one fastracked back by Brown as his supporters were dwindling - he was hated in South Africa who booted him out, send him back to SA say I."


    Hated by the rugby-loving right wing WHITE South Africans.

    Are you one of those ex-pat types who didn't like what was happening to their white enclave and had to return to the UK?

    Brown may have a multitude of failings but at least he's not racist.

  • Comment number 53.

    I find Gordon Brown seriously frightening - especially when he smiles - but cannot understand the purpose of this challege to his leadership at this time. Perhaps, Hoon and Hewitt had too much egg nog over the hols.
    I am more concerned at the BBC coverage of this debacle. I have just watched John Sople blowing his cool with both Labour and Conservative politicians in a way which seemed to indicate a strong partiality for the 'Leader'. I have never seem a presenter in the throws of such a temper tantrum before. Certainly, you would never indulge in such hysterical self indulgence.

  • Comment number 54.

    There was a similar situation in Canada in 1993. The governing Progressive Conservative party wanted the experienced Brian Mulroney out as he was considered an electoral liability.

    He may well have been an electoral liability given his controversial record on Free Trade, sales taxes and the Canadian Constitution (among other things). He wasn't liked or trusted by many Canadians. However he could hardly have done worse than his successor.

    He was replaced by the "plain-speaking" Kim Campbell. She was Prime Minister for just under 4 months. In the October 1993 election a series of PR disasters from her resulted in the PC party being reduced from majority government to a rump of only TWO seats. The PCs now no longer exist.

    Beware Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt. You know not what you are doing.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    What a pair, aimless Hewitt and oily Hoon,the Defence Secretary
    of the dodgy dossier asking for a revolt.
    Hoon should be preparing his dossier for Chilcot inquiry !!!and
    as for Hewitt,why don't they just say vote tory.

    Read Hoon's weasel words-Hansard 20 Mar 2003 @ 12.32pm.

  • Comment number 57.

    Given how close the polls are, Labour could still win. Your correspondents seem to be all anti-Labour but I remember how soul-grindingly awful the Tories were in government, how corrupt, how disastrous their privatisations were, how they cut into the fabric of society until it nearly collapsed. Those that did it are still there behind the scenes. So: Gord isn't brilliant but, please, please, he should win.

  • Comment number 58.

    Never interupt your enemy when he's making a mistake...

    Call an election

  • Comment number 59.

    Talk about unelected Prime Ministers is just ignorant, both of history and our constitution. Recent examples include Anthony Eden 1955; Harold Macmillan 1957; Alec Douglas Home 1962; James Callaghan 1976; John Major 1990.
    The Prime Minister is chosen by the Queen as the person most likely to from a majority government. We don't yet have an American presidential system.

  • Comment number 60.

    This is like putting a foot up a dog's bottom because there is no mess on the pavement to tread in. Stupid, pointless, barmy and in the case of Hewitt purely mischievous. At a time when we need a stable government to send out the correct signals abroad, Hoon and Hewitt come up with this. If, if Brown gets a "no" vote in any labour mp vote, then he will have to go to the people and the rudder-less time in between the fall of parliament and a general election result will lead to an impossible situation for our troops, our foreign relations and any attempt to keep stability in the country's finances. In one silly statement by these two, the election for Labour is now lost. There is no hope, no fight, no point.

  • Comment number 61.

    57. Pataphysician wrote:

    "Given how close the polls are...... "
    ===================================

    ??????!??!??!???

  • Comment number 62.

    48

    The issue, dear sir, is that Blair said expressly he would not be standing down half way through the term.

    Lies lies lies.

    And by the way, since when is "but they did it first" any kind of excuse? I felt no less anger towards Major, but that does not make Brown right.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    " ... might be worse than sticking with a leader who many are convinced is taking them to certain defeat ..."

    Those "many [who] are convinced" ... smart cookies!!

  • Comment number 65.

    As much as I would like to think otherwise, this is all pointless speculation - it's not going to happen.

    We are stuck with Gordy until the bitter end.

  • Comment number 66.

    The Idea that Gordon Brown, or his successor, is not elected is a symptom of presidential government. In Britain PMs are not elected as PMs. It is the party that is elected, then the party selects whoever they think best has the support of themselves, and indeed the House as a whole. Legitimacy is found constitutionally in this. If GB is replaced by DM the latter may indeed have the support of New Labour Party MPs desperate to keep their seats; but, in the short pre-election honeymoon that follows it will be unlikely that a new platform, personalized to the new leader, could emerge. Legitimacy would not be served. That particular chaos might indeed be more electable, but the Tories would be more prepared for Government.

  • Comment number 67.

    34. At 2:53pm on 06 Jan 2010, sircomespect wrote:
    #25 Zydeco "If Hoon and Hewitt are so determined to see Gordon challenged, surely a better way of deciding the issue would be for them to call for a vote of 'no confidence' in the House.
    Completely unconstitutional but since when has that bothered Labour. "

    Good point, well made. However, a vote of 'no confidence' in the house is a vote for 'no confidence' in the government, surely.

    *******************************

    Yup. I think you're right about that.
    However if this plot carries on and shows indicators that it will go against GB, I suspect he would then call an election straightaway. In other words he could claim he went on his terms.
    A vote of 'no confidence' in the House would cause him to take the same course.

  • Comment number 68.

    Sincerest condolances to Mr Brown for having to deal with such a mucky rabble of a party. Following Blair's devisive leadership, I'm not sure anyone could have united this lot. The more this goes on the more these self serving non entities undermine our trust in them and teh Labour party- It is them that have become unelectable not Gordon Brown. It is these sorts of on-going antics that will destroy any chances at the next election- not the Brown leadership.
    On recent performance I know who I would want running the country through one the most difficult economic periods since the great depression- and it certainly isn't the Miliband bros, Johnson, Hewitt, Hoon or Purnell.
    So congratulations to the labour party rebels for throwing it down the drain, and best wishes to Brown for his future role in international politics outside the reach of the dregs of Westminster

  • Comment number 69.

    I say keep GB in his position and let him face the wroth of the electorate for his wholescale mis-management of this country!

    I can't wait to see the face of this unelected arrogant politician go up in a puff of electoral smoke!

    It's over for you Gordon. Walk the plank now or we'll make you walk it within the next 150 days!

    Bye bye clunking fist!

  • Comment number 70.

    Sounds like the other famous bunker dweller and the people around him, trying to save their country from disaster.
    But I don't see any of our grindingly mediocre politicians in the role of Stauffenberg, (who in any case failed).
    Just have to wait until the Russians arrive in June.

  • Comment number 71.

    59. At 3:20pm on 06 Jan 2010, John Lloyd wrote:
    Talk about unelected Prime Ministers is just ignorant, both of history and our constitution. Recent examples include Anthony Eden 1955; Harold Macmillan 1957; Alec Douglas Home 1962; James Callaghan 1976; John Major 1990.
    The Prime Minister is chosen by the Queen as the person most likely to from a majority government. We don't yet have an American presidential system.

    ------------------

    Wow. Now that statement really is raising the bar of ignorance.

    The Queen selects the Prime Minister. Well I never.

  • Comment number 72.

    Interestingly one of the first times I've really seen the party trend on Twitter. Absolutely sure Hoon/Hewitt weren't aware that it would have this impact but Labour had better get in gear to monitor it's online presence...

  • Comment number 73.

    If GB thinks there is going to be a challenge will he call the election striaght away then ?

  • Comment number 74.

    Despite the scurrilous back stabbers on the back benches, I do not believe changing Gordon Brown will do anything postive for Labour's fortunes. At least with Gordon I know he's coming from a strong moral base, is hard working and knows what he's doing. It seems to me most other potential candidates will be in it for vanity's sake as they simply will not have been in post in whatever job they are currently doing, to give people like me confidence they can step up and be prime minister. Frankly, a change of leader this side of an election will take away even the devil I know, and replace him with one I don't. In the end, I think this will make David Cameron very attractive to swing voters like me if I find he is competing with some unproven prime minister.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 10. At 2:19pm on 06 Jan 2010, Bill_De_Zas wrote:

    Your application of logic explains why this country is in such dire straits. Please read post #66 it explains simply the differences between a parliamentary democracy (as in the UK) and a Presidential democracy as in the USA. I'd call it enlightening :)

  • Comment number 76.

    27 Boilerbill:

    "He should announce that he is not scared of facing any form of a vote"

    Really? Then let him call an election.

  • Comment number 77.

    It's becoming obvious what the Party mantra is in response to the Hoon/Hewitt move:

    'We are getting on with our jobs. Gordon had an excellent PMQs today. We are continuing to put initiatives in place for jobs, education, etc etc.'

    So if is 'not important' and 'won't last five minutes' why are Balls, Khan and Woodward, with more to come later, working to a script.
    It wouldn't be to stop them saying what they really mean, would it?!!

    They'd be more believable if they were spontaneous.

  • Comment number 78.

    It annoys me when people say Gordon Brown has no public mandate. Tony Blair made it clear at the last election that he was going to step down and everyone knew that Gordon would almost certainly be his successor. Anyone who voted for labour voted for Gordon Brown to be PM.

  • Comment number 79.

    Brown should stay: he's the best in borrowing 3.5 billion each week

    PS An idea for a conservatives election slogan: Labour is working - the debt is growing 3.5 billion pounds each week

  • Comment number 80.

    Labour needs a new person at the helm; a fresh someone with grit,vision and charisma. Labour is in the doldrums. There is no denying that. But can the rank and file find the ever-elusive new face who will energise the whole party at the eleventh hour? The mind boggles! If you a betting person, you could place a £1000 evens bet that David Cameron would win hands down! But strange things do happen at general elections! Here the British electorate are in charge: prudence will reign!

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Labour got it badly wrong with Brown - he's a backroom boffin, not a leader. He's impossible to warm to - when he tries to add charisma to his image it comes across as stilted, insincere and cringe-worthy. Under pressure in the leader role he reverts to toxic behaviours - behind the scenes manipulation, presbyterian preacher-style oratory and public about turns (remember the Ghurkas).

    I've always voted Labour but I couldn't bring myself to vote for Brown. If the PLP can get their act together in a convincing and compelling manner to force his resignation, Labour might have a chance of forcing a hung parliament.

    Shame they didn't go through with it a year ago.

  • Comment number 83.

    49 GHM wrote: "Are you suggesting that right wing supporters are less able or less willing to think than left wing ones?"

    Would I?!
    No, no. "Unthinking Right" is just shorthand for a certain body of bloggers who endlessly trot out the same tired cliches whatever the topic. It's a bit like the term "Labour apologists".

  • Comment number 84.

    Fortunately neither Hewitt nor Hoon has much credibility with either Party Members or electors generally. Both were weak ministers, and are divisive.
    Gordon Brown's easily the best economics policy-maker in the Commons. And the best judge of world financial markets. He makes shrewd judgements of Ministers' capabilities. Maybe that's why he also has some enemies?
    He may not be glamourous, good-looking or glib with his sound-bites, but we don't need those superficial skills to return our country to sustained growth. We do need Gordon's carefully judged policy and decision-making.
    We're much better off with Gordon Brown to lead us through this exceptional world-wide crisis. Maybe that's why both worldwide Bond markets and British shoppers have such great confidence in the UK's forward plans?

  • Comment number 85.

    StrictlyPickled wrote about Pataphysician's comment:

    "Given how close the polls are...... "
    ===================================

    ??????!??!??!???

    The poll gap is 10-12 %age points, which means it could be as low as 5% points. Given that the public view is that Cambyknickers is SO not Obama, I'd say that was close.

  • Comment number 86.

    Posters are not very knowledgable about the British constitution.
    The Primeminister is appointed by the sovereign according to various unwritten conventions. They don't have to be elected an MP or leader of a party.
    Churchill became Primeminister in a backroom deal.
    No UK Primeminister has ever been elected.

  • Comment number 87.

    I thought that in this country one had the privilege of voting for a political party and its manifesto. Surely it is for the formal members of the individual parties to vote for their leader. Brown may not be the most charismatic or photogenic of politicians but it seems to me that, within the severe constraints posed by the worlds economic situation, he really does care about the lot of the ordinary hard working folk. I do not have any degree of confidence that the conservative approach has the same focus.

  • Comment number 88.

    I thought the ballot would allow Brown to be deselected at the next party conference, but I'm not sure how the labour party democracy works

    Could that mean that effectively the Labour Party could go into the next election with a caretaker until that conference takes place?

    As to the Mockery for your DP episode, I simply agree with earlier contributors who ask you to look outside the spoon feeding of the No10 spin machine

    ...and more insight like the "end of the labour party" as a governing party as you expounded on the DP

  • Comment number 89.

    I hardly think it matters whether Nick saw it coming or not. It's what was coming that is important.

    A divided Government, with parts more interested in internal squabbling than in sorting out the appalling mess the country is in. I don't think we should underestimate the damage Brown can do in 5 months so this is all a sideshow. The Labour party should just allow an election NOW. After they lose, they can elect sagamix's pin-up girl HH into power thus ensuring Labour are unelectable for decades to come.

    Couldn't be a happier ending to this shambles of a Government.

  • Comment number 90.

    I say we should keep GB and let him win the next election. The alternative that he loses and is set upon the World stage to Balls-up all the other countries as well is too awful to contemplate!

  • Comment number 91.

    It seems there are a lot of first time bloggers trying to garner sympathy for a hard done Brown, If I had my rose tinted glasses on I might have fell for it.

    I for the life in me cannot believe that there are people in this country that believe Brown is Honest, capable and a good leader, I honestly believe that a lot of undecided/floating or Anybody But Brown voters might vote Labour if he went.

  • Comment number 92.

    Re 78: No they didn't!

  • Comment number 93.

    85 pataphysician:

    "The poll gap is 10-12 %age points, which means it could be as low as 5% points"

    Or as much as 17 % points. Depending on which pollsyou chose to look at.

    Just adding this for balance, understand.

  • Comment number 94.

    Buff Hoon and Hewitt???

    With enemies like these, who needs friends?

    Could this be a Brownite plot to cement his leadership position?

  • Comment number 95.

    78. Tim wrote:
    "It annoys me when people say Gordon Brown has no public mandate. Tony Blair made it clear at the last election that he was going to step down and everyone knew that Gordon would almost certainly be his successor. Anyone who voted for labour voted for Gordon Brown to be PM."

    That's a brilliant point. perfectly made.

    With only one tiny mistake. At the October 2004 Labour conference, in his speech, Tony Blair said "If I am selected I would serve a third term. I do not want to serve a fourth term" and on the last day of the election campaign in an interview with John Humphreys on the BBC, Blair said "I can serve a full term", even going so far as to say that there was nothing in Labour rules that wuld require him to stand down 6 to 9 months ahead of the following election.

    So when you say "Tony Blair made it clear at the last election that he was going to step down" the slight correction required is "Tony Blair said at the last election that he was not going to step down"

  • Comment number 96.

    At the risk of sounding cynical, everything about this -- including the perfect timing -- suggests to me that it's being staged:
    1) Labour is on course for a huge defeat
    2) no-one wants to take on the leadership of the doomed party at the 11th hour
    3) GB's popularity (such as it is) is at an all-time low

    Given that no-one else wants the job on the eve of such a crushing defeat, surely the only chance Labour have of gaining support and mounting any semblance of an election campaign is to first restore some faith in their battered leader. So if they stage a fake leadership contest and GB miraculously "wins", then he suddenly looks a lot stronger, making it a positive story for Labour ahead of the election and meaning the party faithful (including Hoon & Hewitt) can justify claims that he is a strong leader who has proven he is the best man for the job.

    With public sentiment as it is, Labour defeat is certain. So they need something to turn the tide before they can start to build a campaign. And it has to start with a strong leader.

    Just my tuppence.

  • Comment number 97.

    "84. At 3:43pm on 06 Jan 2010, leftie wrote:
    Gordon Brown's easily the best economics policy-maker in the Commons."

    Hahahahahah!!!!!! That truly made me laugh!! Where is this dreamworld you obviously inhabit? Must be nice and cosy. Not sure I like the men in white coats though, always taking someone away never to be seen again.

  • Comment number 98.

    "At least with Gordon I know he's coming from a strong moral base, is hard working and knows what he's doing."

    Hah. LOL.

    God, its fun watching this nest of vipers eating itself. Great fun!

  • Comment number 99.

    Did I hear right that Balls has said Brown has the support of the PLP?

    "Schools Secretary Ed Balls told Sky News it was "frustrating" that the call had been made shortly after a "really good prime minister's questions".
    But he said the cabinet was "fully behind Gordon Brown" as was the PLP." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8443769.stm

    A bit rich considering that the PLP didn't have a say in electing Brown.

  • Comment number 100.

    75#

    Thats as maybe, 10 was maybe too simplistic, see my 43, explains it better. I fully understand the technical and legal aspects of what we as the electorate vote for.

    What is being forgotten is what may actually be happening in the minds of the electorate, the voters who put the MP's in, in the first place.

    Thats what I try and explain in 43. Doesnt matter whether its legal or not, that is how the electorate think. Thats why you get all this unelected PM stuff.

 

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