David Blackburn

Labour’s Catch 22

Labour's Catch 22
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The sole current political certainty is that Nick Clegg will not prop-up Gordon Brown. Clegg holds Brown personally responsible for 13 years of failure and not even political marriages can be built on enmity. 

Labour’s choice is clear: remove Brown to accommodate Clegg. The Sunday Times reports plots are afoot to kill Gordon ‘with dignity’. But euthanasia is messy. Two options are being discussed. First, Brown would be given a year to make a final indelible mark on Britain before shipping himself off to Westminster’s version of Dignitas. I think we can all see the problem with that cunning scheme, and Nick Clegg certainly will.  The second option is to force Brown to resign on May 7 and use an arcane clause in the party’s constitution to enthrone a caretaker whilst stitching up a coalition until a formal leadership election is concluded. So much for Labour’s newfound fad for electoral and political reform, and Clegg is too canny to compromise his chief political weapon: anti-politics.

Even without Brown, other personalities impede coalition. Would Ed Miliband’s or Ed Balls’s tribalism be acceptable to Clegg’s centrist instincts? Would they be acceptable to Labour’s right for that matter? Could a Blairite like David Miliband win a leadership election against Charlie Whelan's and the unions’ candidate? Disastrous though Brown has been, his sheer bloody mindedness has arguably held Labour together. A coalition is not certain if Brown goes, but depends on his departure. Then again, internecine war is likely to follow his resignation. The battle for Labour’s future cannot be postponed indefinitely.