By Ben Cohen
Polly Toynbee is perhaps the most knowledgeable writer I've read when it comes to the inner workings of the Labour Party in Britain. She has a real feel for the party's intricacies, and has access to serious sources who inform her of all the political in fighting. She knows who the power players are, who wants to become leader, who could, and who couldn't. Toynbee is basically a Labour hack, but an insightful one whose opinion counts.
If Toynbee says it's over for Gordon Brown, it most likely is. Her latest article in the Guardian is essentially an obituary for the hapless leader, and a call to arms for regular party members to kick him out and replace him with someone capable of fighting the Tories. Brown has had it as the Party's leader, and the sooner he goes, the better. While the British Conservatives are nowhere near as insane as their American counterparts, the prospect of Tory rule at such perilous economic times is truly frightening. Cameron is a silver tongued free marketer who has learned to appeal to centrists and liberals with carefully phrased speeches and indecipherable policy proposals (matching Labour spending on everything while cutting taxes). However, Gordon Brown is completely incapable of beating Cameron in the next election, and he has no one to blame but himself. Toynbee is cruel to the Prime Minister, but only to be kind to the party that has the best chance of pulling Britain out of its economic slump:
It's all over for Brown and Labour. The abyss awaits. As long as he
remains leader, there is nothing that wretched Labour candidates can
plausibly say on the doorstep at next month's European elections. They
are struck dumb. Why should people vote for them? The horse manure
bought on expenses is garnish for a decomposing government. The heart
of the matter is the economy, and Brown's responsibility for the bubble
years. He personally is to blame for Labour's failure to ensure that
ordinary people on median incomes and poor people at the bottom
received a bigger share in national growth: it turns out that they fell
back and only the wealthy prospered. Labour made the rich richer and
the poor poorer: growth for the few, not the many.
That is a
failure so fundamental to Labour's purpose that the party can't go into
the next election led by the man responsible. His other failings as
leader pale beside this one monumental fact. While he is there, Labour
cannot claim "fairness" or "social justice", so what is left to say?
What is Labour's offer?
New Labour had better come up with something quick, or the party that spawned Margaret Thatcher will rebound with a bang.