Peter Hoskin

Rebellion Watch

Rebellion Watch
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So Jane Kennedy has quit her position as a junior environment minister, and Paul Waugh tells us that there'll be more resignations ahead of Brown's meeting with the PLP tonight.  In the meantime, Baroness Blackstone seems to implicitly call for Brown to go, via an article in the Standard arguing against one of the main reasons put forward by Brown's supporters for keeping him.  Here's how it kicks off:

"Most political commentators assume that if there is a new leader of the Labour Party there would have to be an immediate general election.

They are wrong. There is nothing in the British Constitution that requires one, nor is there any recent precedent, irrespective of party.

When Alec Douglas-Home replaced Harold Macmillan, when Jim Callaghan took over from Harold Wilson, when John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher, and when Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair, a general election was not triggered.

The fact there might be a second change of party leader makes no difference. British general elections are not presidential." While Baroness Blackstone is technically correct, this just exemplifies one of the main challenges the rebels face.  If they're to get more Labour MPs to join their cause, then they need to reassure them that there needn't be an immediate, or even a swift, election.  After all, ditching Brown is predicated on the idea that another leader could deliver better results - and they'll require time to have that kind of impact. 

But this argument does risk alienating the rebels from public opinion, which would - I imagine - baulk at the idea of yet another Prime Minister without the legitmacy that a general election can provide.  With "power to the people" the soundbite du jour, this is a contradiction you can trust Brown to exploit - and shamelessly so.