Peter Hoskin

Brown’s position looks more and more unstable

Brown's position looks more and more unstable
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Over at Comment Central, the Times pair of Danny Finkelstein and Philip Collins - who, for my money, have written perhaps the two finest comment pieces for a UK newspaper so far this year (Finkelstein on Israel; Collins on Brown's political positioning) - have published their exchange on whether Brown will go before the next election.  I'd recommend all CoffeeHousers read it.

Finkelstein summarises the main reasons why it now makes sense for Labour to topple their leader:

"Now I feel differently [from last autumn]. First it is hard to think that any [other potential candidate] would be inferior or do worse politically. Second, the scramble would be undignified but Mr Brown is looking just as undignified. And the victor of, say, a June contest might be able to put an election off for four months or so, with an Autumn General election. And experience? We've been through that and it is obvious now it can't beat time for a change."

And Collins, who used to be Blair's speechwriter, agrees:

"I'm afraid this week has shown that, as soon as economic news recedes, the government is all at sea. There appears to be no programme to speak of. So it is possible that Labour MPs will rouse themselves for one last attempt to win. The polling is quite clear: a large part of Labour's unpopularity is caused by the leader. I also share the view of most Labour MPs that the Tories are not up to much - they have no great idea what they are for either.

So will the MPs act? They should, it's not inconceivable that they will but I doubt they have it in them any more." In then end, the question becomes not whether Labour should depose Brown, but how they could - which is quite telling in itself.  Among the options mooted is a "Jack Straw led coup".

Myself, I still think that Brown will be around come the next election - unless, say, the expenses scandal goes nuclear.  But I wouldn't be surprised if we see a renewed bout of leadership speculation, along with potential challenges, around the summer.  Either way, the growing talk about Brown's job - encapsulated by the Finkelstein-Collins exchange, and by Alex Hilton's suggestion that a former Cabinet minister may be preparing to run as a stalking horse candidate - is hardly going to stregthen our Dear Leader's position.