Thursday, 24 December 2009

A Widening Rift?

There are more stories in the papers about the widening rift between Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, including this one in The Telegraph. These stories are almost certainly coming from the Mandelson camp. But to what end? What does he want?

Well he wants his influence back. Brown used him when his position was at its most precarious. Now he feels more secure and so that influence has diminished. The man whom everyone was calling the real deputy PM has been demoted again and Brown is talking to his more trusted allies.

Of course, that this has happened to the prince of darkness and heir to Machiavelli himself is endlessly amusing. And why is anyone surprised? Brown has always been just as capable of deceit and duplicity as Mandy as he showed during his long campaign to get his present job. Bringing back his old enemy was really rather clever I am forced to admit. Now, with the election just around the corner rendering talk of more leadership intrigues highly unlikely, Brown feels secure and no longer in need of support. Suddenly the great political sage and communicator of a few months ago is surplus to requirements and Brown is following his own instincts. This of course is a recipe for electoral disaster but who is left to tell him that?

All Labour governments seem to end up this way. Of course this one has been like it for some time it's just that they were somehow able to keep going regardless. It's all remarkably similar to the infighting and backstabbing that happened under Wilson and Callaghan back in the 70s and not just because the economy is starting to look similar to those days too.

Will it lead to more talk about toppling Brown? Probably not. Mandelson for the moment is just making trouble so as to try and regain some of his former influence. But the closer we get to an election which Labour are resigned to losing the discipline may start to fray. The man of many titles and departments has already tried to jump ship back to Europe. Electorally he has nothing to lose either. This may just be a shot across Brown's bows. But the relative calm of the last few months within the government may be about to come to an end. The Tories will be hoping so. It may put an end to their recent jitters too.

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