05 June 2009

Kill The King

Rainbow, IMHO, was one of the weaker heavy metal outfits of the late seventies. Vocalist Ronnie James Dio is (with the possible exception of Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell" LP) crap, and the whole sub-Dungeons and Dragons feel to the lyrics has never struck me as particularly interesting. They got better once Richie Blackmore replaced Dio with other vocalists (first Graham Bonnet and then Joe Lynn Turner) and switched over to love songs, producing two classics in "Since You've Been Gone" and "I Surrender", but even so, that's just about all anyone remembers from them nowadays. For straight-down-the-line rock'n'roll give me "Golden Earring's Greatest Hits Vol 3" anyday. 

But Rainbow did manage some good song titles, and one of them, "Kill The King", is the title for this post, and for a very good reason. 

Because, unusually, James Purnell is right. It's time to get rid of Gordon Brown. 

The guy has had two years to banish the disastrous aftertaste of the cod-Tory Blair era, and he's done almost nothing. Most of what he has done moves us in the wrong direction. We are stuck with stupid and disastrous policies - privatisation of the post office, ID cards, privatisation of welfare, a continuing commitment to a bloody stupid voting system, failure to reverse privatisation of the railways - I could go on and on. Meanwhile, the increase in public spending as a share of GDP to pay for improvements in services - one of the only remotely "progressive" things about new Labour - has been jettisoned because of the economic collapse, and we face a decade of retrenchment and spending cuts which will damage the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. 

Yes, Brown has averted disaster - at least for now - on the economy, and there have been a few good policy moves, like the 50p income tax rate. But it's nowhere near enough. This guy is the biggest disappointment as PM since - well, EVER. Sadly, those awful Blairites like John Hutton who said he would be an awful prime minister were right. 

There is an escape route - a way to prevent a Tory landslide at the next election. Alan Johnson can be installed as leader, do a deal with the Liberal Democrats to change the voting system to proportional representation, then dissolve parliament in the autumn and call an election under the new rules. I don't think the Tories can get anywhere near 50%. Even if the Tories went into coalition with the Lib Dems after an election, it'd still be better than sticking with what we've got. 

Both the left and the right of the Labour party realise this - Purnell included. Brown is left clinging to a shrinking island of support which will eventually just comprise himself, Nick Brown, and Ed Balls. He can make it easier for himself by resigning on Monday, after the Euro election results (which will be disastrous) come out. Otherwise it's gonna get very ugly indeed - we're likely to see mass resignations from the cabinet. Blears and Purnell were only the first wave. 

Of course there will be calls for an immediate general election if the leader is changed, but Johnson can play the plumber role; if he points out that he is conducting essential maintenance to the Westminster democractic system, which can't wait, he can turn the crisis of political legitimacy to his advantage. Then, we'll either have revolution (George Osborne as Che Guevara anybody?) or we'll have a new voting system. Either way, things must improve from where they are at now. 

I feel a bit like the guy with the cigar in the A Team: "I love it when a plan comes together". 

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