Stubborn

That would be Gordon Brown in a word, Stubborn. So one has to wonder exactly how successful any late attempts to unseat him will be.

If reports are to be believed Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt are determined to hold a secret ballot (well, not so secret, but that’s incidental at the moment) of the Parliamentary Labour Party on whether Brown should continue as leader.

However, it is not really up to the PLP as to who leads the party into the next election. As Hopi Sen made clear last September.

[The] constitution of the Labour party, which makes clear that a Leader of the Labour party who wishes to stay in that office can only be removed by first, a fifth of Labour MPs calling for a leadership election, then leads to a vote at the next party conference.

When there has to be a General Election between one party conference and the next, this is kind of important, because it means that as soon as this party conference finishes, there is no constitutional way of bringing down a sitting Labour leader from without.

One thing that has been made clear during Gordon Brown’s tenure is that he is above all else Stubborn. Prime Minister’s Question Time has rarely been an opportunity for incisive criticism or soaring oratory, but under Brown it has become ever more characterised by soundbites and slanging matches.

Likewise, his opportunism in claiming to have abolished “Boom and Bust,” not such a strange claim during the Great Moderation as it now seems, has transmogrified into claim to have abolished “Tory Boom and Bust,” as though the branding mattered.

Finally, there is the fact that he is still in his job, despite the petition, despite the plotting and despite the worst economic crisis since the war.

A meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party isn’t going to crack him now that the election season has finally begun. With the final goal in his sights it is increasingly unlikely that Brown is going to go of his own accord, and as Hopi illustrates, its not as though they can push him.

So we are left with a situation where a weakened and embattled Labour Prime Minister is being harangued from all sides. There is no chance that Brown will step down for a charismatic alternative (Hoon? Hewitt?!) and ultimately no chance this sort of “ferret in a sack” infighting is going to go down well with the public.

All the work of the Labour activists, and the own goals scored by Tory HQ is slowly being erased by the careerist machinations of two Blairite hasbeens.

The letter in full, courtesy of The Graun:

Dear Colleague,

As we move towards a general election it remains the case that the parliamentary Labour party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.

This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.

Strong supporters of the prime minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.

Equally, those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.

This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.

In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.

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