Peter Hoskin

Behind the desk-banging

One figure I’d like to see is the ratio of Labour MPs who think Gordon should go against those – all six of them – who actually told him to go during the PLP meeting yesterday. What would it be?  10:1?  20:1?  30:1?  One thing’s for sure: those half-dozen honest souls aren’t the only ones who’d like to see the back of Brown.  So why all the desk-banging?  It’s just utterly surreal.

The behind-the-scenes loathing is a theme developed by Rachel Sylvester in her Times column this morning.  She writes of Cabinet dissent; of MPs fed up with the “sense of paralysis” at the heart of government; and of the resentment that backbenchers feel.  But it’s this passage which stands out:

“I am told that even yesterday David Miliband was still considering going privately to tell the Prime Minister that he should stand down. Had James Purnell waited until then to resign, it is said that Mr Miliband could have been ready to join him, using the local and European election results as evidence of Mr Brown’s lack of appeal. Even if Mr Miliband now does nothing, it is not good to have a foreign secretary with such a low opinion of a prime minister.”

Myself, I can’t see Miliband going ahead with it – he’s hardly distinguished himself with his proactivity; and his reponse to James Purnell’s resignation, coupled with his abortive coup last year, has diluted his pool of supporters.  But all these rumblings are a sign for the Prime Minister.  A sign that – despite the sticking plasters he and Mandelson have administered over the past few days, – his premiership is still lying battered on the floor, haemorrhaging public support and Labour enthusiasm. 

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