Rumours abound that senior Labour figures are plotting to topple the PM. Ministers are briefing journalists, MPs are calling on Brown to resign.
A re-run of last year’s Labour leadership election does not appear likely. If you recall, Brown succeeded Blair unopposed: an overwhelming majority of Labour MPs backed Brown, preventing a leadership contest and, more importantly, a chance to debate Labour’s policy direction.
It’s hard to imagine that the trade unions would repeat their backing for Brown now that he’s doubled the income tax paid by the poorest workers and imposed a public sector wage freeze in the face of growing inflation. Certainly, General Secretary of the GMB Paul Kenny has already called for a leadership election.
Backbench MP John McDonnell, who attempted to challenge Brown in a leadership contest, is being urged to stand again. I urge you, dear reader, to join the Facebook group or email your name to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s the text of the letter doing the rounds:
As a range of Labour party members, supporters, councillors, NEC representatives, trade unionists, activists, community workers and campaigners, we are concerned that the Labour party currently faces a crisis from which it may not recover for a generation or more.
We believe that the current disastrous situation has been caused by the continuation of unpopular New Labour policies that have alienated millions of our supporters right across the country.
When Gordon Brown became leader of the Labour party, we were denied a democratic debate on the future direction of the party. We believe that, if a leadership contest is to take place, there must be a range of candidates representing all wings of the party. So far all the potential successors mentioned have supported the very policies that have landed the party in its current predicament – such as the Iraq war, privatisation of our public services, pay cuts for public sector workers, attacks on civil liberties, and failures to tackle a growing housing crisis and increasing inequality. We believe the current crisis is about policies, not personalities.
We desperately need a candidate to stand who will promote policies supported by millions of our supporters across the country – such as fair pay for public sector workers, public ownership of our services, a progressive tax system, an emergency council housing programme and an independent foreign policy. We need someone who is not compromised by voting for the very policies that have alienated our supporters.
John McDonnell is the only potential candidate with a consistent record, who has opposed all of New Labour’s unpopular policies, who has a coherent alternative policy vision, and who has widespread support across the labour movement. We therefore urge John McDonnell to stand when there is a vacancy and for MPs to nominate him in order for party members and trade unionists to have a genuine debate and choice about the future of our party.