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Saturday, September 09, 2006

The magic phrase

Get me out of this fucking sandbox, Gordon

Clarke savages Brown to scupper fragile truce
By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent

Published: 09 September 2006

Gordon Brown faced accusations from senior Labour figures of deliberately inflaming the party's crisis as suggestions grew that a heavyweight " stop Brown" candidate would try to thwart the Chancellor's leadership ambitions.

Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, and Frank Field, the former social security minister, both claimed he had encouraged this week's manoeuvring against Tony Blair.

Mr Clarke accused the Chancellor of being a "control freak" in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, in which he hinted Mr Brown had " psychological" issues which might impact on his ability to be an effective leader.

Many Cabinet ministers were "very, very cross" at the " coup-type" activity seen in Westminster over the past week, while several former ministers were "steaming" as a result of Mr Brown's conduct, he said.

The public criticismof Mr Brown is echoed in private by some ministers. One Cabinet member told the BBC: "It would be an absolute fucking disaster if Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and I will do everything in my power to fucking stop him."

Mr Brown is the runaway front-runner to succeed Mr Blair, with strong support among union members and constituency parties, and the Chancellor's allies dismissed yesterday's critics as mavericks.

Some Blairites, however, are known to be casting around for an alternative candidate. Their preferred choices are John Reid, the Home Secretary, and Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, although Mr Clarke also made the case yesterday for Alan Milburn, the former health secretary.

The fragile truce that settled on the party after Mr Blair and Mr Brown's public statements on Thursday was blown apart by a vitriolic attack on the Chancellor's character by Mr Clarke.

He also lashed out at Mr Brown over the pictures of him smiling. "A lot of people are very upset and cross about that. It was absolutely stupid ­ a stupid, stupid thing to do," Mr Clarke said, in a separate interview with London's Evening Standard.

In both interviews, he warned that the Chancellor's succession to the leadership was not inevitable and said he still had to "prove his fitness" to assume the leadership.

He said Mr Brown should have "condemned from the outset" rebels who wrote to the Prime Minister demanding his resignation, whom he could have stopped at the "click of his fingers".

First, this is a clear sign that September 2007 is the outlier date. I would think
that the upcoming party conference might be his last hurrah. Why?

Because of Iraq.

Brown needs to say one thing: I will withdraw British troops from Iraq. That's it. The Blarites are tied to Iraq like an anchor. If Brown breaks with the policy, what can they do?

posted by Steve @ 12:26:00 AM

12:26:00 AM

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