Peter Hoskin

Brown’s strange position of strength

Brown's strange position of strength
Text settings

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: the email exchanges between Danny Finkelstein and Philip Collins over at Comment Central are one of neatest features in the political blogosphere - always worth a read.  They've got a new one up today, discussing how Brown should go about handling the Legg letters.  Does he force Labour MPs to cough up, and risk drawing their anger?  Or does he fold and allow them to fight Legg, to maintain some degree of their support?

It all reduces to an important point from Collins; one which could seem counter-intuitive at first, but makes more sense the more you think about it:

"I would calculate that the Labour party is too spineless to do anything serious - the evidence for this sorry conclusion is now overwhelming - and that therefore if [Brown] did make [the Legg investigation] a test of his leadership he would win by default."

In other words, Brown is actually in a position of some security (until the election, that is).  Sure, in many regards he's impossibly weak.  Sure, he may even face more challenges, of a sort, between now and May.  But he can also take risks which would cause difficulties even for stronger leaders – precisely because he knows that his party lacks bottle.  Whether or not he starts taking those risks is an entirely different matter...