Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Do U wnt a :X ballot?

Update: Ok, I knew I shouldn't have put "Other" as an option in that poll! I was hoping for a glimpse of who you all thought would make the best leader from the perspective of a Labour MP or supporter. If "Other" still gets your vote do please add who that "Other" person might be in a comment at the bottom of the post. If it's still "Nobody" (à la Dubbieside!) then feel free to add that too!

So Hoon and Hewitt have broken cover, texting the Labour MPs as to whether they want a secret ballot about Gordon Brown's future. Guido has a transcript of a letter (I hope Geoff and Pat didn't put all of that letter into several text messages - I for one would have RSI by the end of that lot). I've added a new poll at the right hand side where you can vote for the person you think would perform best as Brown's replacement - NB put party loyalty aside, no voting for who you think would be the worst Leader!

The ballot raises the following obvious questions to my mind:
  1. Will the ballot happen, and if so will the MPs oust Brown? How many rebels would be needed before his position becomes untenable? 20? 30? 50? 100?
  2. Who would succeed him? No outstanding or even unifying candidates I would venture, and would any of the least worst options want such a poisoned chalice? I recall some opinion polls last year that put Mr T Blair as the Labour leader who would perform best should Brown be replaced!! The Milibands, Straws and Harmans of this world didn't seem to find any more favour than Brown did with those polled.
  3. Would a change of PM make any difference to voting intentions? Would the passive lack of enthusiasm for any successor be mitigated by the absence of active disapproval of Brown?
  4. How would it play in the Labour heartlands if a Blairite contender emerges triumphant? In particular, what would be the effect in Scotland if the so-called "Scottish mafia" loses control at Westminster? Furthermore, will there ever be another Scottish (or Welsh) leader of any of the UK parties in these days of devolution?
  5. Would the public stand for a second unelected PM? Would the election have to be brought forward? And if so...'s a mischievous thought-experiment that occurred to me the other day. Imagine the scene: the SNP fail to get their 2010 budget passed, GARL proving a sticking point too far. Alex Salmond makes good on his threat to go to the people with a snap election for early March. What are the consequences for the UK general election?

Could we have the UKGE at the same time as the Scottish election? (remember the confusion last time over multiple ballot papers!) Could any of the UK parties afford two election campaigns in short succession? If not would that clear the way for the SNP to significantly outspend their rivals? If Brown is ousted and the public do demand a UKGE, would the rest of the UK be happy to hang around waiting for Scotland to finish a Holyrood election first? Would any of these considerations come into play when the opposition MSPs consider the Scottish budget in the first place? (I can just imagine Mandy on the phone to Murphy who then spells it out for Gray in words of one syllable that Labour can't afford to block the SNP budget!)

Perhaps the above scenario won't come to pass this year, but at some point we're going to see the UK and Scottish electoral cycles moving into conflict with each other. Has anyone thought about the implications of this yet?

Lots of questions there, any takers?

PS Happy New Year to you all!


Dubbieside said...


Could we not have another voting button that says,

Does not matter who, as they are all useless, and are totally irrelevant to Scotland anyway.

Gedguy said...

I'm not too sure that any Labour MP would want to take the poisoned chalice of leader of the Labour party when it looks like they will be out of power soon. I suspect that the backstabbing will begin in earnest when the GE is over.

forfar-loon said...

Dubbieside, I was trying to avoid too much cynicism - see the NB in the main post!

forfar-loon said...

Gedguy, you're probably right. The only ones who might want the job would have to be untarnished by association with the current government to stand any chance of keeping the job in the longer term. Either that or they'll put up a "useful idiot" who will lead them to a bad result at the GE and then make way for a non-featherweight (not sure I can justify the use of heavyweight!) contender.

Dubbieside said...


After much deliberation, ok 5 seconds my other is Jim Murphy.

If Labour are going to replace one useless PM they should appoint one equally as useless.

P.S. Best outcome for the SNP Brown stays, Labour get badly defeated at the GE. Cameron displays all that is worst about tories, not that hard for him. Big increase in SNP support.

forfar-loon said...

Dubbieside, whether this revolt goes anywhere is almost academic. To a large extent the damage has been done and Labour look even more chaotic than before.

I think Gedguy is right, the bitterness and recriminations will really start after the GE. All that Blairite/Brownite tension that has barely been kept under wraps for the last 13 years will erupt as they try to decide who to blame for the end of the Third Way Reich. The post-GE leader will have a tough task to develop any sort of unity with all that going on around them.

Dramfineday said...


Anonymous said...

I doubt anyone wants the job now. That's why all the little pigs have come out and said he's the best man for the job. Imagine being prime minister for 4 months and then being out of power for 15, 16, 17 years...

I don't think Alex can call an election. If he resigns the Queen has to ask the little fool Gray if he can form a government (in coalition with Tavish or Ms Goldie or Margo or the Greens, or someone). If he can't I think the Queen has to ask Ms Goldie if she can, and then, poor woman she would have to ask Tavish. Lord, the things she has to do for a palace and a crown.

Anyways, my understanding is that only if no one could form a government would there be an election. Imagine wee Gray as First Minister though.

I voted for Mandleson, because I genuinely believe he is clever enough to do it and the others aren't, but also wouldn't it be typical of THIS lot to be the first government led from the Lords for 120+ years?

The word recognition = messe.... how appropriate!

forfar-loon said...


Very sweet of you Dfd, but who do you think would best replace Brown? ;o)

forfar-loon said...


Good point, you're right that Alex Salmond isn't in a position to call an election as such. But I do wonder whether Labour could perform as a minority administration (the coalitions look a bit of a stretch to me - Lab+LibDem+Green is still one shy of a majority, and I can't see Margo or the Tories getting into bed with that lot!). Realistically I think public opinion would demand an election asap.

Having the Scottish and UK GEs jostling for position would be interesting to say the least! It probably won't happen this year, but it's bound to occur sooner or later, and it'll be interesting when it does...

Agree with your assessment of Mandy, certainly the smartest of the contenders, but I'm not sure he'd have enough popular support (especially as he's not elected) amongst the voters. I plumped for Jack Straw, on the basis of him being the least offensive of those remaining. Close thing between him and Alan Johnson though, but Straw's greater experience edged it for me.

I've occasionally had a similarly apt word recognition thing, but "messe" pretty much sums Labour up at the moment!