‘SnowStorm’ plot over before thaw begins….
It looks like the snow settled on the ground across the country will last longer than the ‘SnowStorm’ plot to oust Gordon Brown. Ministers have all rallied to the cause; admittedly belatedly and in the case of David Miliband especially with little conviction but still nonetheless it has been enough to deny the coup attempt momentum.
Furthermore, the backlash has begun with news that Charles Clarke may face a deselection vote and LabourList rallying the faithful. Daniel Finklestein writing in The Times argues that even if things had been differently then the Hoon/Hewitt attempt was still likely to fail which begs the question why?
Obviously, the first factor is timing. Polls have started to show a small Labour recovery; something which the most recent YouGov poll for The Sun confirms. If Labour MP’s were reluctant to dump Brown in June when the parties poll ratings were rock bottom then I am not sure what brand of insanity persuaded H & H they would be more likely to do so now.
Secondly, and most crucially, the plotters lack a real power base of support within the Labour Party and a central issue to rally dissent around. Organisations like Compass have wisely steered clear of any attempts on the leadership which counts the left out virtually from the start. If it has any sense it will wait until after the election to try to force its agenda – for now the left is presenting itself as the unifying force within Labour, a wise strategy that will put it in a good position to have hegemony in the post-election scrap.
When Blair went it was clear that the alternative centres of power had already been built however, no such thing exists now. The Blairites have little structural or organisational sense outside the realm of power and it has shown in both abortive coup attempts. What you have in effect is a bonfire of competing agendas with no coherent agendas or defining points of principle other than their own self-advancement.
The ‘Big Beasts’; the ones whose intervention could topple Brown, are all sensible enough to see association with the Blairites as political suicide in the long-run and this is why they habitually keep quiet only to line-up behind Brown and why following his resignation James Purnell briefly attempted to ingratiate himself with the left.
Gordon Brown will lead Labour into the next election and that is much down to his opponents inadequacies as it is his own resilience, which, to some degree you do have to admire as Mike Smithson says. However, his leadership will not last long after that and it is then that the real debate on Labour’s future will begin.