Brown needs a challenger, or else he'll have to call an election
Stephen Byers sees the world through blinkered eyes. He says there are “no fundamental ideological divisions within New Labour”, ignoring the section of his party who consider themselves ‘Old Labour’. And he is as Blairite as they come, which colours his judgement of the Chancellor.
But he is right in saying that Gordon Brown’s coronation would be an unattractive spectacle.
Only Labour’s opponents want to see the leadership contest turn into a bloodbath, but every Labour MP should want an open discussion of the challenges their party faces.
If Mr Brown provides us with an idea of what he wants to do, and not just what he believes in, then the public might retract their demands for a ‘snap election’ to vote on his agenda. Otherwise their calls for greater accountability would be justified.
But he needs to stop answering questions with bland waffle, as he did with Andrew Marr this weekend. Otherwise he leaves himself open to attack from Blairites like Mr Byers, who rightly criticise his failure to indicate where the Labour Party is heading.
Published in the Evening Standard, 10th January 2007.
Written in response to an article by Mr Byers in the paper two days earlier. (No web link available)