Early this morning local BBC phoned and asked me to comment on their live show about the current mess at the top of the government. I was surprised to be asked, but agreed to do so.
As soon as I heard their introduction I realised why I had been asked. They asserted that the resignation of Mr Purnell was just like my challenge to John Major, and they wished to remind the public of that distant event!
So for all those BBC programmes wanting to do the same, the answer is “No”.
My challenge to John Major was fundamentally different.
1. I applied for a vacancy, as the PM had resigned as party leader.
2. He had told us to “put up or shut up”. As the main advocate of a very different policy approach in the cabinet I felt I had no choice but to “put up”. I had continued a long disagreement about policy in private whilst being loyal to the PM.
3. The challenge was about big issues. I wanted to say “No” to the Euro and to any further power to the EU. I wanted tax cuts and had identified spending reductions that could be made without damaging front line services.
The Ministers now resigning have put forward no different policy approach, and are not responding to a challenge from Mr Brown. There is no vacancy. If only they would put forward a policy alternative, as we need it urgently to tackle the government borrowing crisis. Instead, all they talk about is the electoral prospect of the Labour party and their own careers.