James Forsyth

Can you put a fork in this government?

Can you put a fork in this government?
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The speed with which things are unravelling for Labour at the moment is quite extraordinary. But the big question is, can Gordon recover?

I’ve always been inclined to say yes. Brown is nothing if not resilient as his ability to remain the heir apparent for 13 years demonstrated. But there are reasons to believe that Gordon really might be John Major circa 1994. First, the current set of crises is obscuring other bad news for the government not good news. Just take Britain’s tumble down the educational league tables which have not got nearly as much attention as they should because of all these events. Second, the government’s political judgement appears to have gone missing along with the child benefit data. It is quite extraordinary that after the very public criticism of the under-funding of the military by five former chiefs of the defence staff, the cabinet is now considering cutting £15bn from the defence budget. Third, Labour party unity appears to be cracking. Rachel Sylvester reports over at the Three Line Whip that ministers are telling her that Gordon only has a fifty-fifty chance of making it to the next election while the Blairites are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticisms of the Prime Minister. Finally, the coming investigations into Labour’s fundraising troubles north and south of the border are sure to produce a steady stream of bad headlines over the next few months.

We can be sure, though, that Brown will not give up office without a fight. So expect a ferocious, bare-knuckled assault on the Tories, and David Cameron in particular, at some point in the not too distant future. Its success, or failure, will be crucial in determining if Labour can get back on track.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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