I had a bad night last night
The few occasions I have had a bad night is when I have had an asthma attack, or one occasion when I was in a professional situation where I knew I had to leave my job but didn't know how to. This time it was because I knew what sort of blog entry I would write today and because I am deeply concerned about the future of the Labour Party which I care deeply about and which alone I think has the potential to run this country the way it should be run given half the chance! The one comfort is that I see I am not alone in those feelings, and that I wasn't the only one who had a bad night as a result.
It goes without saying that the way a political party is run and the way a government is run is due to the actions of a no of people, but in fairness the buck stops with the leader. He or she has the power and influence to affect events and if events turn against them or if the journey goes through hard waters, then he or she must draw on the reserves needed. This involves having allies across the political landscape, it also involves a consensual style of governing the country. Harold Wilson knew this too well and that is why he held a front bench full of strong minded people together through thick and thin for thirteen years.
I don't think Gordon Brown has all those necessary skills and I say that with sorrow, as for many years I was a major political fan of his. Yes I knew him to be tough, yes I knew he could be calculating and ruthless, but I honestly felt that such qualities were needed because I was one of those who took the view that, given a moments chance, he would be knifed in the back by Blairites.
But being Prime Minister requires a different style, and at the start it looked like Brown was making good progress, even as late as last year bringing in Mandleson (not the most likeable of politicians) was an act of genius as it neatly side-stepped Brown's opponents. Brown didn't have to even have charm, what he needed was to be sure footed at the right times, to hug his enemies close, and to keep in touch with his grassroots.
But Brown didn't do those things, and I could even forgive him for much of that if he had a degree of decency and for me the final straw that was broken which moved me from being blindly loyal was the Draper/McBride affair. Brown had been warned repeatedly what sort of person McBride was (and this in a culture where bullying hacks are taken for granted), but he didn't listen and that in itself has led to serious questions about Brown's judgement, his sense of purpose, his consideration for the Parliamentary Labour Party, and indeed the sort of person he is.
Downing Street even briefed against enemies as recently as during the recent election campaign and that was stupid and counter productive, he should have sacked Blears there and then. That said, I agree with Laurie Penny in that Hazel Blears resignation was indulgent to the point where some Labour Councillors and maybe an MEP or two may loose their seats as a result. Likewise the same concerning the public announcement regarding the circulation of the letter to Gordon Brown. There is a time and a place for actions like these and forty eight hours before crucial elections are not one of them! I also agree with John Prescott's comments but this says as much about Brown's leadership as it does Harman's or anyone else who is responsible.
So as far as I am concerned Brown may just as well quit now. There were less Labour activists out helping this election to the point where I strongly suspect some areas did not even get leafleted, he lacks the support of The Guardian, three cabinet ministers have resigned, several bloggers have spoken out against Brown. The only card he has left is the reshuffle and if he botches that up, if those embroiled in the expenses row are kept in (mind you Purnell was one of those who was mentioned in the expenses row), if one more member of the cabinet quits, then Brown ought to go to Buckingham Palace, hand in his resignation, and let a new leader heal the Labour Party and a general election called for Feb 2010
UPDATE 10:37: This piece on Labourhome and especially this piece has finally convinced me, reluctantly, that we need to see a change