Within the Labour Party? It doesn’t look like it at the moment, but both David Miliband (a definite contender for that role should it be made vacant) and Harriet Harman have been busy denying they are going to attempt to take Gordon Brown’s position. After their defeat in Glasgow East she was reported by the London Times as saying “This is my moment,” which she has denied. Likewise, Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, in a widely read article in The Guardian he referred to the growing sense of ‘fatalism’ regarding Labour both inside and outside the party. This has been seen as part of his platform upon which a leadership bid could be launched. Downing Street sources claim all of this is “garbage,” and according to the BBC ‘only Labour MPs Gordon Prentice and Graham Stringer have publicly called for a change of leader.’ However the rumour inside Downing Street, according to the FT, is that the word “traitor” has came up several times in conversations, relating to the aforementioned Foreign Secretary and that Guardian article.
Compare that to the public defence of his leadership coming from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith; Justice Secretary Jack Straw; Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Cabinet Office Minister Ed Miliband. Many coming to his defence have cited the fact that a lot of challenges facing the country right now are economic, and Gordon Brown has at least got the necessary track record in this field. Look at his recent handling of the 130 demands the Trade Unions made upon Brown, according to the FT he ‘rejected the vast majority outright and gave little ground on the remainder.’ Certainly the right thing to do in the current climate, and something that gave the business world a little more confidence in Gordon Brown. US Presidential Candidate, Senator Barack Obama on his tour of the EU, reassured him (somewhat prophetically, perhaps) that “You’re always more popular before you’re actually in charge.”
Which naturally makes me think of what Henry Kissinger (pictured above) wrote in one of his biographies, The White House Years, about how from the outside political decisions look black and white – there is the right choice or the wrong choice; and yet on the inside they are made up of a myriad of different opinions, thoughts, idea’s, briefings and conflicting interested parties all trying to influence the outcome. Now in Westminster and Whitehall it may not be as much of a jungle as it is in Washington, but the point he made is valid, about how those outside the corridors of power have a limited understanding of the workings of political decisions. So when an outcome may look poor to the outsider, it could be the case of that being the best possible scenario for those on the inside.
This is something I believe we should think of, more on a conscious level (I simply assume this is a given when it comes to assimilating information regarding politics, but I have been shown time and again that my view of the world is not necessarily everyone else’s, so I thought I should make this point here and now) when we look at matters, like a leadership challenge, or making policy decisions. There will come a time when people are making comments about the Tory leadership, and then the shoe will be on the other foot for blogs such as this one. Then it will become more our duty to try and understand what is going on inside the party, the government, and the numerous bodies of opinion, in order to better make sense of the workings of government. It is the sort of reflective writing which could come to good use either in the act of defending or attacking the actions of a political party.
The case I am wanting to make is that it is not the time for change (in the labour party – though as amusing as it might be for a blog such as this one to watch), but a time for understanding, and from what I understand of government; what would be the point of a leadership challenge now? The situation is clearly frustrating for Labour, but if and when their ship of state sinks, and the Conservative one takes its place, then it will be time for a leadership challenge. Then it would make sense. For if anyone were to take over of the Labour Party now they would sink with the ship. So unless anyone is feeling foolhardy, I have my doubts we will see a change at the top of the Labour Party any time soon.
By DOMINIC TARN.