With John Reid jumping before he gets pushed by Brown, it’s easy to forget that Blair hasn’t actually set a date yet… although it’s all over bar the shouting. This is more good news, setting the scene for a Conservative comeback in two years.
First, Brown hasn’t got many friends with the balls to handle a Cabinet post – actually, Ed Balls is one of the few. And there’s a growing realisation in Labour ranks that they won’t actually be in power much longer. Brown’s Cabinet will be incompetent.
Which brings us to the second problem. Not being a team player, Brown’s decisions will be made by a tiny cabal of (mostly Scottish) people close to him, the same way he co-opted countless government policies by commissioning ‘independent spending reviews’ of other departments’ plans whenever someone had a policy he didn’t like. This will alienate whatever Cabinet he puts together. No Cabinet Minster in a Brown government will be in the job for long.
With last week’s local elections handing another 12 councils to the Tories (and handing Scotland to the SCOTS, what a concept!) he won’t have the power base in town halls that Blair could always rely on. The countrywide network of people able to push things through no longer exists; his decisions won’t have the authority to be carried through or bedded down.
Britain’s hard-pressed middle class – the group of voters that gave New Labour a chance – has now HAD ENOUGH, and won’t fall for the same line again. Taxes are too high, public services offer too little value, and EVERYONE knows it. But with massive spending pledges still in effect from Brown’s Chancellor years, there’s no room to cut taxes to appease us. Brown is trapped.
Finally, with New Labour’s support in freefall, Brown’s favourite tricks – disappearing whenever the heat’s on, sneaking new policies in through the backdoor – will be used even more often, and become even more obvious to the electorate. Making it even less likely that he’ll win a term on his own mandate.
Altogether, a good week for European politics. Conservatism is taking its rightful place as the natural party of government once more.