Thursday, 7 January 2010

Brown Facing Backbench Revolt - Update

This is an update to 'Brown Facing Backbench Revolt'.

I concluded my post yesterday saying:
"Whether the SnowStorm Plot melts with the snow, or whether new developments,
possibly tomorrow, keep the hopes, and the story, alive for those who would
rather have a new leader for Labour, only time will tell."
It seems clear now that the revolt has died, although not without a handful lingering developments throughout the day.

As morning broke across the country, shortly before seven o'clock, with britons opening their curtains to another snow-covered scene Nick Clegg MP, the Liberal Democrat's Leader emerged on GMTV and weighted into the matter - better late than never. He echoed the view of the Conservative Party Chairman yesterday and said:
"We don't need a secret ballot, the country needs a General Election... The Labour party now is more interested in talking about itself."
He refused to answer questions about any possiblity of a Liberal Democrat - Conservative alliance in the event of a hung parliament, saying that the Liberal Democrat platform of "
fair taxes... smaller class sizes... a new economy and a completely new politics after the expenses scandal"
was what voters wanted him to be talking about.

Half an hour later Labour's Eric Joyce MP criticised what he called 'aristocrats at the top of the party' who he said believed they could stay quiet and let others get rid of the Prime Minister, but added that ultimately the failed attempt to unseat Gordon Brown would unify the party.

"The whole party will be much more unified, and the ambiguity will be

"[The] aristocrats at the top of the party who thought that if they act coy
they could inherit the leadership of the party.

"It’s quite destabilising for people to give hints to people like Geoff
and Patricia.

"There’s an element of internal ambition where people aren’t prepared
to take their own risk."
Twenty minutes later Cabinet Ministe Shaun Woodward MP insisted that he sits in a happy Cabinet, and that the reaction to the Hoon/Hewitt plan showed the Labour party supports Gordon Brown.

As the story began to die down as it started to be starved of the oxigen of publicity Jack Straw MP, Justice Secretary, accused the BBC's Nick Robinson of 'a very substandard piece of journalism', after the BBC Political Editor named Mr. Straw as one of six cabinet ministers willing to support yesterday’s call for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown’s leadership on the BBC's News at Ten. He said:
"I was named by Mr Nick Robinson of the BBC - he sent me an apology."
He went on to say that the Hoon/Hewitt plan had failed, and would have the ultimate effect of greater unity in the party.

"This extraordinary announcement yesterday by Geoff Hoon and Patricia
Hewitt has sunk. It was completely ill-judged and completely ill-advised.

"I think it will have the affect of bringing people behind his
leadership even more.

"It is something we could easily have done with out – what we have got
to is keep on and make the case for a Labour government."

At ten o'clock however it was Iain Martin of the Wall Street Journal who had the most significant and interesting detail from yesterday, he reported:

"I’ve heard from two Labour sources now that the conversation was very difficult
and that Darling raised the possibility of Brown going, but the PM resisted. It
would be taking it too far, says a well-placed MP, to say that the mild-mannered
Darling told his old friend turned foe to call it a day. He said it was more
that Darling floated the possibility of a swift departure for the sake of the

This was later rubbished by Niall Paterson of Sky News that an Aide to the Chancellor described it as 'categorically, unequivocally not true'.

Even the last Labour Deputy Prime Minsiter , John Prescott MP, entered the fray with a video blog on YouTube condeming the plotters suggesting that 'Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon and Charles Clarke should be the ones facing secret ballots in their own constituency parties'.

As the morning continued David Miliband MP, Foreign Secretary insisted that all the Cabinet were united in their determination to win the next election under Gordon Brown’s leadership saying:

"No member of the government was involve in the letter - we are all determined
to win the election under Gordon’s leadership."

On BBC 2's the Daily Politics Tony McNulty MP, denied that endorsements of Gordon Brown from cabinet members yesterday were lukewarm. There had been suggestions that statements from Mr. Brown's colleagues fell short of being ringing endorsements of Mr Brown's leadership throughout the morning.

Mr. McNulty instead suggested cabinet members are simply 'fed up' with having to say that Mr Brown is the right person for the leadership and added:

"The shame is this was on the end of a gaffe-prone week for the Conservatives."

After midday the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP, made his first public comments in a long-scheduled phone-in with BBC Radio Solent he said he was 'leading from the front' and would say 'what I think' even if at times it proved to be unpopular. He said:

"[E]very day there is a new problem, every day there is a new challenge - it is
how you deal with it [that was important]."

Asked about events on Wednesday, he said:

"I was actually holding meetings, first of all about Afghanistan and about some
of the terrorist implications of what had happened in America.

"And then, to be honest, for the rest of the day, I was dealing - as I am this morning - with how we can co-ordinate better our supply for dealing with these emergencies, so it's taken up very little of my time.

"I think it's one of these sidelines in this time when people are far more worried about - as they should be - about what we're doing to deal with the weather and how we're making sure that people are safe and secure.

"So it's not going to take up much of my time and hasn't certainly taken up much of my time today or will in future days."

And so around half past twelve today the SnowStorm Plot seemed to be over with the Prime Minister having the last word. But wait, no, what is this dark figure mincing towards us? None other that the master of the Dark Arts, (and presumably necromancy based on the number of time he's been back from the dead), Lord Mandelson who, as the sun set, reignited the flames of this narrative (which Gordon Brown had seemingly smothered at lunch time) saying that he was sure that Gordon Brown was the right man to lead Labour into a 'very vigorous, very effective' general election campaign.

"Yes I’m sure that Gordon Brown is the right man to lead us into an election campaign.

"[He] has a vision, has a huge knowledge of the economy… he has real drive, real determination.

"[Gordon Brown] will lead us into a very vigorous, very effective election campaign."

At the end of the day The Telegraph reported that Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s deputy leader, was being blamed for encouraging an attempted coup against Mr. Brown this week, with David Miliband MP, Foreign Secretary, also under suspicion of plotting.

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