Peter Hoskin

Johnson’s sense of timing

Johnson's sense of timing
Text settings

Remember when Alan Johnson said he doubted that he would have been "good enough" to lead the Labour party?  Or when he claimed that his defeat by Harriet Harman in the deputy leadership race had killed the "little bit of ambition" he had left?  Well, the tune has slightly changed since then.  In today's interview with the Guardian, the Home Secretary still downplays his ambition but adds that he won't rule himself out of future contests:

"I haven't got the ambition, and I haven't got the self-confidence, and I haven't got that real aching desire to lead. Which really is an essential quality in a leader. So I don't think I'll ever be leader of the party. But I'm not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities in the future."

Like his similar "I am not saying there are no circumstances" line on Marr a few months ago, this latest quote is distinguished by its timing.  Then, Labour's disastrous peformance in the local and European elections was only a few weeks away.  Now, the party conference is kicking off amidst rumblings of an October coup.  You'd almost think Johnson is sending his colleagues a coded plea: "I'll step into the breach, chaps, should anything unfortunate happen to Gordon..."