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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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Labour under Brown: unelectable in England

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Friday, 24 July 2009 at 01:50 pm
A solid result for the Conservatives in Norwich North, fighting not just a Labour Party that had given up but an anti-politics mood that saw the Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Greens, BNP and Craig Murray between them win more votes (14,115) than the new Tory MP, Chloe Smith (13,591).

The swing from Labour to Conservative, 17 points, was almost the same as the 18 points recorded at the Crewe by-election in May last year, but it doesn't feel like it, partly because Labour did fight that one vigorously, if wrong-headedly.

David Cameron is on course to win a majority in the general election next year, whichever prediction model one uses, and Ladbrokes already has Ms Smith at 100-1 odds to be the next Tory leader.

Paradoxically, though, that means that the AJ4PM campaign is also on course. Even if Labour manages to do much better in the Glasgow by-election caused by the resignation of Michael Martin, the Speaker, the collapse of Labour support and morale in Norwich North speaks volumes of Gordon Brown's unelectability in England.

I expect that there'll be another Labour leadership spasm in September, and a fourth and final one in January. Alan Johnson could be in Number 10 in six months' time.

Comments

oldrightie wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 01:34 pm (UTC)
I am at a loss how you guys get your jobs. A reasonable view of James Gordon Brown is that, if faced with a realistic challenge, he will force a General Election to spite his Party. It's in his DNA. Same as the scorched earth policy against The UK.
eventsdearboy wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 02:16 pm (UTC)
It will not matter now. It is all too late. Cameron has sealed the deal. Yes, Labour has to replace Brown to claw back some support but the election is lost.

We had our little debate but on one listened. Brown should have been replaced in June with an election in October.
j_rentoul wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 02:23 pm (UTC)
Not at all, EDB. Of course, the party should never have allowed Brown to take over in the first place, but it is never too late - until the general election. And the closer we get to the election, the less there is for Labour MPs to lose by making the change.
eventsdearboy wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 02:31 pm (UTC)
Well you are closer to the action than me, but the Bob Hawke scenario will not bring Labour victory, or I will need some convincing it will.
Brown's own website agrees!
kalvisjansons wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 02:33 pm (UTC)
Here is the nearest thing to an official Number 10 opinion poll on Mr Brown's popularity. The following two petitions were started at roughly the same time on the official Number 10 website.

For

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/support-the-PM/

Against

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/please-go/

Note that many of the names in the "For" petition look a bit unlikely. Number 10 quickly remove the spam names from the other list, to keep it as short as they can. However, the ratio against Mr Brown is huge!

There is still time for you to vote here, so make the most of it.

Also, if you agree with this petition, please tell others about it, and tell them to spread the word as well. This is the way to get it really moving.
Re: Brown's own website agrees!
ajlennon wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 10:21 pm (UTC)
Hi Kalvis,

I heard you had a lot of difficulty getting the 'Go' petition onto the site. How difficult was it actually?

Alex/
Re: Brown's own website agrees!
kalvisjansons wrote:
Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 05:32 am (UTC)
The Number 10 petition team wanted it to be very narrow, but I knew that would not be very successful. So there were a large number of emails over a week or so were we were discussing this issue.
ptstroud wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 03:19 pm (UTC)
"...an anti-politics mood that saw the Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Greens, BNP and Craig Murray between them win more votes (14,115) than the new Tory MP, Chloe Smith (13,591)." What a meaningless statement. The Tories took 40% of the vote which is good for any party.
kevinwell wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 06:00 pm (UTC)
The only thing that can be extrapolated from the Norwich North by election is that the Conservatives will handsomely beat Labour at the next General Election, which most of us neutrals in that particular contest, already knew anyway.
The Greens & UKIP have overperformed in terms of their prospective percentage of the vote and will not be able to replicate this at a General Election, as the minor parties all have particular and limited strongholds in terms of their vote as evidenced by the recent EU election results.
Gordon Brown is far more likely to call an election than to step down, which would appear weak anyway.
At least if he loses an election he can put the blame elsewhere and, not to put too fine a point on it, most of the Labour MP's that I am aware of deserve to lose their seats anyway. Ouch! I bet it smarted a little that the analogy, in respect of the minor parties combined vote and the winning candidate, would not have been possible without the close to 1000 votes cast in favour of the British National Party, particularly in view of that the BNP have almost no presence in the land of Delia and what was formerly the home of the 'quiz of the week' in the 1970's.
Afghanistan
anonsource wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 06:03 pm (UTC)
However difficult Britain's internal politics are today, voters are unlikely to support Brown's willingness to put troops in danger in Afghanistan. Nor should they support the US' genocidal behavior in the mid-east. NATO is for Europe, military occupation ruins development, and radicalism increases with repression.
lush_laroo wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 06:19 pm (UTC)
Alan Johnson
"the cheeky chappy" star today of the vaudeville show that is Parliament.
His comments on supporting unrestricted immigration the other day puts him in the same class as the ridiculous Michael Foot as a serious contender for PM.
He will be massacred at any election if appointed as Leader of the rabble that is modern Labour for that deeply unpopular utterance against the wishes of the majority of the population.
Vengeance will be ours for the destruction of this once stable society, at the next election live in fear all 3 major parties I think you will be in for a shock,( I hope) .
"anti-politics mood"
kendavies wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 09:47 pm (UTC)
Why does John Rentoul think that an "anti-politics mood" is demonstrated by a combined vote for the smaller parties that exceeds the Tory vote? (I will ignore the fashionably erroneous "saw" -- Mr Rentoul may see, a mood can not see.) It is insulting to the electorate to attribute an anti-political attitude to them because they do not support the current offering of potential leaders. It is facile as well as insulting to lump together the Lib Dems and the Greens with UKIP and the BNP. I remember when the Independent prided itself on genuine independence of thought. Now it seems the paper has succumbed to two-party arrogance. What a pity.
dnmurphy wrote:
Friday, 24 July 2009 at 10:54 pm (UTC)
Its not an anti-politics mood, its a fury at the arrogance and knavery of the political class as represented by the mainstream parties. People have shown repeatedly recently they care and WANT to be able to return to an era they can have respect for our leaders. The professional, careerist politicians just want to hide up and hope it all goes away.
It is amazing.............
maisy_babe wrote:
Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 11:14 am (UTC)
...........that during these torrid times slightly over 6000 numpties still voted for this awful party of awful government. What the hell possessed them?
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