Spit or swallow: The Labour government begins the long goodbye

In editorial, Gordon Brown, the labour party on April 25, 2010 at 08:51

The Sunday Telegraph has reported that the Labour government may have started a long goodbye, following the revelation of persistent in-fighting among senior party leaders.

“Lord Mandelson ordered Harriet Harman, the party’s deputy leader, to “shut up” and told her he did not want to hear from her again, in a dispute over election strategy,” report Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite.

Disagreements, some quite bitter, range from campaign strategy to fresh leadership should the Labour party fail to win a majority.

The real story here though is that senior party strategists appear to be preparing to bring yet another unelected Prime Minister to power, this time in the person of David Miliband.  A party that may now – twice in a row – present the country with an unelected PM, ought not to be considering strategy, but withdrawal.

…the major role [in post-debate TV interviews] was played by Mr Miliband – with Lord Mandelson, who had taken the main “spin” role the previous week, absent.

A Labour insider said: “The plan was clearly to promote David [Miliband] and give him exposure with the future in mind. The official reason – that ministers were all being given a turn to mix it up – is obviously rubbish.

Harriet Harman, who is leading the campaign strategy, has widely circulated details of her humiliation at the hands of Lord Mandelson.  Last week, she appeared to have been shifted to the back seat following a row over strategy in which Mandelson told her to “shut up”.

The picture this morning is of a party desperately fighting for its life, in complete disarray with factions fighting internal battles, rather than presenting an image of unity and Harmany (yes, we know). Strategically speaking, the Labour rows could not possibly have come at a more difficult time for the party.

This is definitely not the time to be rethinking campaign strategy, with just two weeks to go before the election.

The fact that one of the factions already has its own name and identity – the “ultras” – only serves to solidify the notion that the Labour party is gasping for breath, and quickly sinking into oblivion.

…the “ultras” faction backs Mr Miliband – and hopes that key roles in a power-sharing government would be taken by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and Lord Mandelson, who could achieve his long-cherished ambition of being foreign secretary.

Sources close to the Miliband camp say they would have “no problem” in offering the post of Chancellor to Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, with Mr Clegg also given a senior Cabinet job.

May 6 leaves the Labour voter with just two choices: spit or swallow.  One way or another, Labour will be expelled.

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