James Forsyth

The ‘what if’ that must haunt Labour

The 'what if' that must haunt Labour
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I wonder how those Labour Ministers who didn’t move against Gordon for ‘the good of the party’ during the various coups feel this morning. They made a calculation last June that if Brown had been toppled in what would have been seen as a Blairite coup it would have taken the party a generation to get over the recriminations. But looking at the polls today and sensing the mood in the air, the partry could be just days away from coming third in the popular vote.

It is hard not to think that an alternative Labour leader would have done better in this election than Brown. Indeed, the return of Blair to the campaign trail has reminded the Labour machine of how much better their previous leader was. On his return to Labour HQ yesterday, Blair was—I’m told—greeted with a massive ovation. He then greeted and thanked every member of staff.

In his interview with the Guardian today, Nick Clegg makes it clear that his aim is to replace Labour as the progressive alternative to the Tories. This should scare Labour as Clegg is very good at modern politics. He comes across as authentic, he’s a TV natural—one of the people who produced Thursday’s debate told me that the Lib Dems should use Clegg’s closing statement as a party political broadcast as it was the most effective use of TV by a British politician that he could remember, and his mix of positions is well suited to an electorate that is not particularly ideological.


Written byJames Forsyth

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

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