26 July 2008

The realest of turkeys

I hadn't even bothered blogging about the Glasgow East by-election because it looked like such a shoo-in for Labour that it wasn't that interesting. Or so I thought... and then the SNP went and won the damn thing.

Make no mistake, this is a turkey as real as they come for Nu Labor. The only way Gordon Brown can survive is if no-one wants to take him on in a leadership contest because he's got the Labour party and the government into such bad shape that taking over the election would be a poisoned chalice. The putative challengers will think: don't risk it now, take our chances after the election, in opposition. The problem with that strategy, of course, is that if Labour gets wiped out at the election then the next Labour leader will be in a William Hague 1997-style situation, Hardly appealing.

At the end of the day it needs someone with enough grit to step up to the plate before Christmas. In my view, the only contender who would stand even a reasonable chance of performing well in the next election would be Alan Johnson. But I don't think he actually wants to do it. Still, if John Major did the job once then it's not exactly off-limits to anybody.

The best thing for Labour would be if Gordon could somehow resign on ill health grounds, or to spend more time with his family. Or something. That would provide a fresh start without someone having to knife him in the back. But the clean handover is unlikely, and so it looks increasingly likely that he will indeed be deposed. But... by whom?

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