“It will depend how events go but more importantly than any other single thing it will depend how the people of the country form their judgement of our party and the Government. And if, for example, the poll ratings go up or we win these by-elections which are going to come through or whatever, I think the issue will go away and he can be confident he leads us into the next election. If, on the other hand, he somehow doesn’t fulfil those things or electorally we do badly or whatever it might be, then the issue will still be there.”
But what’s most interesting is what driving Charles Clarke, the fear that the Labour party could be destroyed if things carry on as they are:
“Some of the polling, some of the people I trust most who watch opinion believe that if we keep going without improving, we could come third, we could even be down to less than a 100 seats or whatever…. if we don’t make a change in our performance, we could be seeing almost the destruction of the Labour Party which would be a total, total disaster.”
Now, these comments might be a bit hyperbolic: the Lib Dem performance last week hardly suggested that they were about to break the two-party stranglehold on British politics. But they do illustrate just how worried some on the Labour side are.
I doubt very much that a new leader could stop Labour from losing the next election. But by draining much of the poison from the relationship between the government and the electorate, a change in leader would enable Labour to minimise its loses.