It’s not an especially striking opinion, but having bollocksed up the election last Autumn, the 10p rate this year, and now the local elections, it’s hard to see why he should hang around, and I’m already bored of reading “Brown prepares fightback” headlines on the news websites. It’s probably time for him to invent a non-existent medical complaint and retire to full-time fatherhood — and then we can have the leadership contest the Labour Party was denied last year.
Although I thought, more or less, that Brown deserved to become Prime Minister last year, after the long dark night of Tony Blair, I certainly don’t think he deserves any sympathy or indulgence now he is Prime Minister, or any excuses being made for what has been a pretty unimpressive go at the job.
I think that my maternal grandmother wanted there to be a general election campaign on all the time, and while I wouldn’t quite go that far, I do think that in general we should be having more votes and more elections than we do, and party leadership contests are an OK second-best substitute for more frequent general elections. (We should certainly, for example, have a new Triennial Act, to make sure that we get these.)
I’m not yet entirely fatalistic about the prospect of crushing Conservative victory at the next election. When people try to tell me that the Government might be re-elected, they tend to say that British governments always do badly in the mid-term polls, but I’m inclined to believe that that’s nonsense. But here are two (fairly banal) observations.
One is that after about eight years or so of Thatcherism, I sometimes wondered what the point of a two-party system was if the other party didn’t get a turn from time to time, and it’s probably true that those non-Tories who had thoughts like that in the late 1980s and 1990s should be fairly sympathetic to people of any or no party affiliation who might be having similar thoughts today. If we’re going to have two-party politics, I’d rather that the parties alternated every five to ten years or so, than that they had these incredibly long runs at Government, which just leave everybody pissed off.
The other is that a lot of sensible people think that (with the wisdom of hindsight, admittedly) the Labour Party was lucky to lose the election in 1992, given what happened to the Tory victors almost immediately afterwards; and I wonder whether the re-election of the Labour Party for a fourth term in power might not necessarily turn out to be altogether a good thing for it over the longer term.
(Alright, maybe I am entirely fatalistic.)
[See also my old colleague Mike Smithson.]
[Oh, and Ed Balls is an honourable man. (So are they all, all honourable men.)]