15 June 2009

Some interesting additional info on the plot that failed

Because my recent blogging interests have been more politics than economics-related, I hadn't visited Paul Mason's blog for a while - which was a mistake as he posted a really good analysis of the failed plot against Gordon Brown last week.

His most important point, I think, is that the sequence of high-profile resignations by leading Blairites gave the impression that the ground was being laid for a Blairite coup which would see people like Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn - whom the left of the party can't stand - back in the cabinet. Whether those people really would have come back in is an open question. The problem was one of perception: to work, the challenge to Brown would have needed to be a pincer movement from right and left. The left decided not to play ball. I still think that's a big mistake but the most likely explanation is that they are waiting to take over the party after Brown leads it to catastrophic defeat. Amen to that, but I just hope there is something left to take over by then.

Paul Mason also offers a fascinating link to Labour blogger Hopi Sen - whom I remember meeting at university, many years ago, a few times in connection with the Labour Club for the brief time I was in it before I left when John Smith took over the leadership because it had become "too right wing". (There's prescience for ya - not even waiting until the New Labour era to bail out...) Hopi's post "how not to plot" offers essentially an expanded version of what Paul's post said. More interesting is the related post on Guardian journalist Allegra Stratton who was covering the Brown plot in detail but may have been systematically misinformed by her sources, leading her to vastly overstate the numbers of potential plotters. One's never sure who to believe with stories like this - it's all smoke and mirrors at the end of the day, Hopi Sen's sources may be just as crap as Allegra Stratton's, and the "number of plotters" wasn't some kind of fixed number 'out there' anyway - people react to events, and if the right combination of circumstances had occurred there probably would have been enough refuseniks to get rid of Brown.

But the problem with this kind of tittle-tattle is it's dangerously addictive. There was a guy I worked with once who spent six months reading political blogs when he was supposed to be doing the literature review for an important research project which then had to be salvaged by other members of his team while he went on to pastures anew. Incredible timewaster. So, if you're reading this, do switch it off.

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