Today we have seen the Labour party once again going out of their way to shoot themselves squarely in the foot. Just when they were clawing their way back in the opinion polls, just when the bookies had been reducing the odds on a hung parliament, just when Conservative credentials were under fire and just when the air of competence was returning to the party they go and undermine it all by starting a mud-slinging session.
The move by Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt to reopen the Labour leadership issue and put Gordon Brown’s position in doubt cannot be helpful to the party as a whole. Things for Labour have been getting better (very very slowly I admit,) even today Brown had the better of Cameron and Clegg in PMQ’s, but instead of starting to build momentum Brown is once again on the defensive focusing on his own position as opposed to attacking the other parties.
The Conservatives must be loving it. The former cabinet Ministers have done their work for them, now there will be wall to wall coverage of the possible Coup giving the Tories a chance to escape the heat that was coming their way after their Marriage Tax debacle. It also gives them more ammunition to throw at Brown in the lead up to an election. This proposed secret ballot weakens the Prime Minister, and therefore the Labour party, just months before an election.
I wonder what Hoon and Hewitt’s end game is? Who do they have in mind to take over? Given that the election will be won and lost on the economy who do they think is better placed than Gordon Brown to win the economic argument for them? The letter also says that a ballot would unify the party, but does such a ballot really create a sense of unity? Or more importantly portray a unified party to the country?
Whatever happens next the Labour party will now have to waste energy infighting rather than doing other things like tackling recession and trying to win an election.
I have just heard on BBC News 24 the first call for an early election I suspect there will be a lot more throughout the day.
Sometimes something’s in politics baffle you – this move at this time is one of them.
You can read the letter here, maybe you’ll understand how Hoon and Hewitt thought this would help the Labour Party.