Did the Coup Actually Fail?

After the failed Geoffrey Hoon and Patricia Hewitt coup of last week, the common assumption was that Gordon Brown had re-established his authority and managed to stamp down the Blairite uprising. With no Cabinet Minister willing to stand up to the Prime Minister, the last chance to remove Gordon Brown before the General Election had gone.

I’m far from convinced that this was actually the case. What has become abundantly clear over the last few days is that Brown was only able to stay in power after having to give ground to every cabinet Minister who queued outside his office. It wasn’t a case of the Millibands, Mandelson, Darling, Harman and the rest of the cabal being summoned to 10 Downing Street to pay homage and patronage – more like a gold rush to see what concessions they could get out of a Prime Minister clearly now in office but not in power.

There is no doubt that Hoon and Hewitt wanted to replace Brown – however in forcing Brown back onto the Blairite agenda they have succeeded to engineer a political about turn from the Leader of their party. Their actions were effectively the political equivalent of taking a hit for the team.

The first obvious u turn from Brown was to allow his Chancellor to play up the need to cut the public deficit – basically a Tory light line – as opposed to Brown’s preferred strategy of Tory Cuts v Labour investment. To Harman and Mandelson the concessions were to allow them to lead the Labour General Election campaign. To the Blairites in the Cabinet, today’s General Election opening salvo of fighting the election on traditional New Labour lines instead of Brown’s preferred class war strategy. The talk of a genuine meritocracy is noble, but New Labour has been talking this talk for over a decade – yet we know there has been no progress in terms of social mobility.

Once again we find the Labour party trying to out Tory the Tories. In the face of a resurgent Conservative party under Cameron its political suicide. It will only serve to alienate their core and they have no hope of beating the Tories for their own traditional vote come the Spring. Quite where this leaves Peter Hain’s endless framing of the General Election as a Lab our v Tory fight I don’t quite know. For ordinary working people the choice between Labour and the Tories is no choice at all. It will be up to Plaid to promote an alternative vision of a just and prosperous Wales.

Labour is finished. Brown was right in his convictions – preserving the Labour core had to be the priority in order to conserve as much of his party as possible and provide some foundation for renwal. Current battles within the Labour party have far more to do with where the Labour party will be politically positioned after their General Election defeat and in what direction the remnants of the party will proceed thereafter.

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