Talk of rebellion is not far from the ears of us political bloggers today. In a year of unfortunate press articles, the past two weeks has to have been perhaps the worst two weeks of Gordon Brown’s miserable premiership. Backbench Labour MPs convinced the party is doomed, their seats in dire trouble, and the future of the Country almost guaranteed to cross to Tory hands for the next half a decade at least, is enough to suggest that the Brown era may be over quicker than Number.10 might have wished. Labour’s 1997, appears to be the Conservative’s 2009.
If we take our political time machine back two weeks we would find ourselves amidst yet more Labour scandal. Ex-Labour advisor to Brown, and spin doctor Damien McBride sends smeer emails against several Tory backbenchers, to Labour Party Blogger Derek Draper, all of which were fabricated by McBride, and sent directly from McBride’s No.10 Email account. It is thought the blog would act as a place that McBride could post rumours he had invented, about the private lives of senior Tories including the Cameron family and the Osbourne family.
Shortly after that, as reported on a previous blog entry, the Government decide not to allow the majority of Gurkha’s who have fought for this Country, the right to live in this Country. They introduced a motion which would allow, according to GurkhaJustice, only 100 or so Gurkha’s to live in the UK, and only those who served over twenty years. Deciding to ignore the fact that most Gurkha’s only sign up for fifteen years service. The motion angered the British Public who feel a moral debt toward the Gurkha’s.
The Liberal Democrats managed to convince backbench Labour MPs to vote against the Government, and so in the form of extreme embarrassment to an ever weakening Government, the Government lost the vote . The willingness of backbenchers to vote against their Government, and in line with the third party of British Politics, the Lib Dems, is of intense importance to the continuing downfall of the Labour Government.
Gordon Brown, then hastily, and without scrupulous attention to the media fall out, posted a frankly bizarre video on Youtube outlining plans to scrap the controversial MPs Second Home Allowance, that allows those MPs with Constituency Seats outside of London to claim up to £20,000 on furnishings, a mortgage and other expenses; by replacing it with a clocking in system, in which MPs get paid extra…. for turning up to work. A daily payment, for clocking in to the Commons. Of course, he didn’t think this plan up himself. MEPs in the European Parliament have a similar clocking in system, which it turns out, is more open to abuse than the current Second Homes Allowance. In fact, MEPs actually refer to the process as “SOSO”, or “Sign on Sod Off“. Given that the system doesn’t work in Brussels, i’m not entirely sure why Gordon thought it’d prevail here. Brown was forced to scrap those plans he so gleefully put forward on Youtube, adding insult to an already dreadfully embarrassed government.
In a fortnight of majestic failure after failure on the part of the Government, it was inevitable that talk of dissent among back benchers and former Labour front benchers was going to grab the headlines. Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke is quoted as saying “I’m ashamed to be a Labour MP”, he added that he had “worked half my life to get Labour into a position where it could be a good government and I do see that fading away.”
According to former Liberal Democrat Leader Paddy Ashdown, several senior MPs have become so intensely disillusioned with the malignant Labour front Bench, that they have considered defecting to the Liberal Democrat benches if Labour were to lose the next election.
To top it off, Downing Street attempted to show just how connected they are with the general public, by offering an online petition program, in which the public could start an official petition regarding anything they so wish, straight on the Downing Street website. Today, the most popular petition, gaining over 40,000 signatures is simply entitled “Resign”.
In my humble opinion, these past two weeks could indeed be the beginning of a storm that threatens to destroy the Government before they themselves choose to call an election in 2010. They could indeed be forced to call an election much earlier than they had planned, if 1979 is invoked, and a Conservative driven vote of no confidence placed on the heads of the current administration. If that were to happen, I cannot imagine the Government would win the vote in their favour. It could indeed get that serious.
The only possible way I can see Labour clawing back the 19 point lead the Conservatives have over them, is a change in leadership, a complete Cabinet reshuffle. Some new blood. The Party looks old, out of touch, with largely fatuous Department heads. That needs to change. There needs to be a burst of energy thrust into the Government and into Whitehall, otherwise the ghost of Callaghan will continue to strangle the Party and the Government.
Shades of 1979, exactly 30 years on.