Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Disarray in Downing Street.

It really is as bad as anything I have seen in my lifetime.

On a day of chaos in government circles, Jacqui Smith's aides confirmed she would stand down as Home Secretary at the reshuffle, expected soon after local and European elections tomorrow in which Labour fears a meltdown.

Ms Smith is not the only MP heading for the departure lounge. Tom Watson, a Cabinet Office minister and member of the Brown inner circle, surprised Labour MPs by announcing he would leave the Government.

Beverley Hughes, the Children's minister, and Patricia Hewitt, the former health secretary, said they would quit Parliament at the general election. So did David Chaytor, a Labour backbencher who claimed £13,000 in expenses for a mortgage he had paid off. More than 40 Labour MPs have now disclosed they will stand down, reflecting the widespread resignation in the party that it is heading for an inevitable defeat.

The irony is that this is now playing out as a Labour party problem, despite the fact that Tories used their expenses claims to do things like clean their moats.

And there are now open threats that attempts will be made to remove Brown if the results of Thursday's European elections are as bad as expected, although I really don't know what good this will do.

The Tories have already feigned amnesia over the fact that John Major took over from Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister without a general election taking place, when they expressed their outrage at Brown replacing Blair and refusing to go to the polls. One can only imagine the noise they would make should Labour replace their leader for a second time.

And, ironically, Brown has actually been more on the ball than his conservative counterpart during the recent financial crisis:

What we read and hear less often is that the full picture is a little more complex. For a start there are signs that the Government's controversial hyper-activity in response to the collapse of the financial markets is working. Not so long ago banks were within hours of going bust and house prices were falling faster than the personal ratings of Gordon Brown. Last week it was reported that house prices have started to rise again.

Some retailers continue to register a surprising amount of activity. No bank has closed. The Government should have acted more swiftly in taking over Northern Rock and been much more prescriptive with the banks. It has made many mistakes. Nonetheless, the Conservatives opposed the takeover of Northern Rock and argued for a cut in public spending rather than a fiscal stimulus at the darkest point in the recession.

I know that the public have little time for such matters as global financial recession and are currently obsessed with MP's expenses claims, but even here the Tories do not come off any better than their Labour counterparts, which makes Brown's dilemma all the more strange.

He is being blamed for a culture which he did not instigate, and people are ignoring the things which he did very well.

But, if the Labour party think that their problems will be fixed by his swift replacement, then they are wrong. Replacing Brown will only exacerbate the problem and lead to a general election which Labour are guaranteed to lose.


Hazel Blear has just announced her resignation in what is clearly a deliberate attempt to damage Brown on her way out of the door.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has resigned from the cabinet.

She has been under fire over her expenses and was tipped for the axe in a reshuffle expected after European and English local elections on Thursday.

The Salford MP, a former Labour Party chairman, paid back just over £13,000 after claims that she avoided capital gains tax over a property sale.

She denied doing anything wrong but Gordon Brown described her expenses claims as "unacceptable".

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the timing of her resignation, on the eve of important elections, appeared to be a "deliberate" attempt to "destabilise" Mr Brown, which had left him "fighting for his political life".

This is the Blairite body of the party taking their revenge on Brown.

It would have been bad enough if we had these resignations the day after an election at which Labour got demolished, but to do so the day before the election as Blears has done is actually to ask the country not to vote for Labour.

Hazel Blears is an utter bloody disgrace. The Labour party are now committing suicide in front of our eyes.

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