James Forsyth

How the Brownites operate

How the Brownites operate
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Rachel Sylvester’s column in The Times tomorrow is a damning indictment of the way that Brown central does politics. This section gives you a flavour of the piece: 

“Rumours have been spread that James Purnell is gay - something that is totally untrue. Alistair Darling has been reshuffled countless times by unnamed advisers. When the going gets tough, the Brownites even turn on each other. Douglas Alexander was hung out to dry over the election that never was. Stephen Carter, brought in to shake up No 10, was quickly seen off by Mr McBride, who briefed journalists that he was politically naive.

The Prime Minister is never personally involved in the dirty tricks, of course - as with all covert operations, there is plausible deniability. But Mr Brown cannot claim to be blameless when he continues to surround himself by attack dogs who bite on his behalf.” The fall of McBride and the coming defeat of Brown at the ballot box gives the Labour party a chance to leave this kind of sordid politics behind. (A politics that, as Fraser has pointed out, has claimed far more Labour victims than Tory ones) But this chance won’t be taken if the leadership election is won by someone who is a Brownite protégé. As Sylvester writes:

“A growing number of ministers are convinced that Mr McBride and Mr Whelan have in recent months been promoting the leadership ambitions of their old friend Ed Balls. They detect familiar tactics being deployed on behalf of the Schools Secretary, with a slow drip of negative stories about potential rivals such as Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson. This may be political paranoia but it says something about the state of the Labour Party that such speculation has taken hold.”

Ed Balls was not the attack dog, he was the supposed brains of the operation, but having been part of the culture that Brown encouraged from the beginning, he cannot offer a clean break with it either. If the Labour party wants to leave behind the Brownite politics of personal destruction and rule by fear, then it must not elect Ed Balls leader. 

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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