This week sees New Labour gather in Brighton for their last Party conference before the next election, an election they are expected to lose heavily. It is also expected to be Gordon Brown’s last conference as Labour leader. Whether he is removed from office in the coming weeks, or resigns in the wake of Cameron’s expected election victory remains to be seen. What may well emerge this week is discussions about the post Blair/Brown party and where it should go next.
The headline evidence for this is the casting around for Browns successor/replacement (delete where applicable), which brings us to the rather strange AJ4PM campaign, run by some right wing bloggers. Alan Johnson is the current Home Secretary and appears to have adopted Alistair Darling’s old “safe pair of hands” reputation as being someone who gets things done. However out with the bounds of cabinet collective responsibility, we do not know precisely where Johnson stands on key issues. We do not know where he stands on Taxation, on Afghanistan or on the tightening of financial regulations. Brown when he was Chancellor seemed to be able to let people know what he thought about key issues without opening his mouth. Brown also seems to have cultivated an image of himself as being one of the brothers, rather than a key architect of New Labour.
Because of this, it is doubtful that Johnson has the fire, ruthlessness and intellect which will be crucial in the rebuilding of the Labour Party, whether it caries on with the ill advised New Labour project or not. He does exude a certain amount of likeability which will get you some distance in politics, but likeability alone will only take you so far, just ask John Major.
I suspect the real reason for the AJ4PM campaign is to encourage a coup, which might result in a new leader, which would certainly lead to a much more imminent Westminster Election than would be the case with Brown staying put. With the Conservatives leading the polls with an average of 40% to Labours 26%, with a projected majority of between 62-64 seats. Which party would like an election sooner rather than later?
This is not to underestimate the decisions which have to be made about the future direction of Labour/New Labour, and the post mortem which is essential if the Labour party is to re-emerge from New Labour. However New Labour simply has to ditch a lot of its matey-ness towards big business and produce policies in favour of the people it has steadfastly ignored in their years in office.