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Saturday, February 21, 2009


Is it me or are things getting just a little bit panicky in the Number 10 bunker? We have now had days of speculation as to who will succeed Gordon Brown either when he loses the General Election or even before.

Today's Independent does not fill one with confidence that things are under control in the Labour camp. They report that the Party's General Election co-ordinator, Douglas Alexander has warned that Labour is heading for opposition unless cabinet ministers stop manoeuvring for position:

Douglas Alexander protested that the infighting had angered and dismayed Labour activists who wanted ministers to concentrate on steering Britain through the recession.

His candid admission of the tensions around the cabinet table follows a week of growing speculation about Gordon Brown’s successor after the election.

Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, has been accused by cabinet colleagues of undermining Mr Brown by appearing to position herself for a future leadership bid.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has faced charges that he is raising his profile for the same reason, while Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, is being championed by many Labour MPs for being best-placed to take on David Cameron. Yvette Cooper, the Treasury Chief Secretary and Mr Balls’ wife, has even been floated as a surprise candidate for the leadership.

Hazel Blears has also piled in: “All this political positioning just helps the Tories,” she said. “My message to my colleagues is simple: get a grip. Our first loyalty is to the British people. If they think that we are more interested in our own jobs than theirs, they will not forgive us. If the mindset is all about what happens after some future election defeat, then the game’s up.”

The paper says that Labour’s nightmare scenario is that the party comes third behind the Liberal Democrats in the local elections and European elections in June. They believe that could trigger speculation of a final bid to unseat Mr Brown, in what would be an effort to limit the damage in the general election, which must be held by June 2010.

This seems quite a good scenario to me and one that is increasingly looking likely in the absence of any leadership from Gordon Brown himself.
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