Mr Hoon and Mrs Hewitt are not being helpful to the PM. No sooner had we heard a more spirited Brown performance in Prime Minister’s Questions than the rumours and the media confirmation came that two senior Labour backbenchers want a secret ballot vote on whether Brown should stay or go on Monday! It was all the more surprising because after several weeks before Christmas when support for the PM in Questions was more muted and there were empty benches, today the party seemed stronger in its support.
Their political judgement is as weak as their understanding of the Labour party constitution. The Leader has to be elected by the whole party, which includes the activists and the Trade Unionists. Meanwhile, if there had been any doubt about the voices against Brown within the Labour party, they have now been confirmed by these two senior figures.
Before anyone makes an unfair jibe, I only challenged for the Leadership of the Conservative party when the incumbent PM resigned and said he wanted a contest. That was an entirely different situation. There was also two years to run before we needed an election. Mr Brown has made it cystal clear he does not wish to stand down and sees no need for a contest.
The Conservative party should thank the two senior figures for highlighting the leadership issue. I think we can also sleep easily in our beds tonight, because Mr Brown will survive this half hearted coup. That is the best possible outcome for the Opposition. The rebels neither have a candidate to replace Mr Brown, nor are they willing even to say they think he should go. Rum that. Without big numbers to back it, this is another coup that will vanish with a whimper.