James Forsyth

The limit to Alan Johnson’s ambition

The limit to Alan Johnson's ambition
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If--and this is still phenomenally unlikely--this current sleaze scandal either topples Gordon Brown or brings about a challenge to him, Alan Johnson is being tipped as the man to watch. He is certainly the opposite of Brown—charming, comfortable in his own skin and English—and is, as Nick Boles wrote in The Spectator during the Blair era, the Labour figure the Cameroons fear most. But Johnson suffers from a self-inflicted wound that makes it very hard for him to consider running even if Gordon had been forced out.

When Johnson appeared on Desert Island Discs, Kirsty Young asked him about why he didn’t rune for leader. Here’s what he said:

"I don't think I would have been good enough, frankly.

"I don't think I've got the capabilities. You get to a level and look around and think 'Perhaps I could go to the next level'. I don't think I could go to that level, which is the only level up from being a cabinet minister.”Now, if he became PM, or even ran for the job, these words would be like a mill-stone round his neck.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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