Labour is not good at coups. A couple of Cabinet Ministers resigning after reading brieifing against themselves in the press was not enough to bring the government down. They could wound but not kill. If the Chancellor had said he was going, and if some other Ministers had lined up to threaten the same, things might have been different.
An alerted Prime Minister can now counter attack. He needs to reshuffle quickly and decisively, understanding that he has to consider his party’s opinions on who to have in crucial roles. A new Cabinet of cronies is not the answer. He needs to use a reshuffle to know more about his Ministers, and to assess who will stand by him and who might be able to do something sensible for the country.
What he needs above all is is to understand that his plan for the economy based on debt, debt and debt, is not going to be the answer. He needs to start the necessary task of reining in excess in public spending before the public finance crisis intensifies. I doubt he has it in him to do that. I fear he believes his own rhetoric.
What is strange is that amidst all this the Chancellor did not say to the PM “back me or sack me”. If he had demanded the PM speak for him yesterday in the Commons or else, I suspect the PM would have felt he had to back him. At least Gordon was lucky with his Chancellor!
Alan Johnson is being touted as a dream unity candidate. I wonder if Mr Balls would let him run without a contest? The problem with Mr Johnson is he has never hinted of having any alternative economic strategy that might work, and has never shown any understanding of what is wrong with the government”s current economic approach. He too is probably a bank nationaliser, an overspender, and someone who believes that more borrowing is the answer.