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Are we seeing the final act of the Brown drama?

August 31st, 2008

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    What if Darling resigns over Gord’s £40bn plan?

Three political stories dominate the Sunday papers and all point to just one conclusion – that we might be in the final phase of the Gordon Brown era.

The first is in the Independent of Sunday which reports that Stephen Carter, the high-powered PR guru who was brought into Downing Street as Gord’s key strategist is to be moved to a new role.

The second is the lead in the Mail on Sunday which reports on a furious row between Number 10 and the Treasury over a Brown plan costing a colossal £40bn to boost the housing market by the government underwriting mortgages.

The third is the main lead in the Sunday Times and reports on the turmoil that Alistair Darling’s gloomy statements about the economy have set off.

It’s becoming very hard to see how both Darling and Brown can remain in the same government. According to the Mail “a furious Mr Brown phoned Mr Darling and ordered him to eat his words on TV, while allies of the Prime Minister said Mr Darling should be sacked and his job given to Schools Secretary Ed Balls.”

The dilemma for Gord is that sacking Darling could precipitate moves to oust him. Yet if he keeps his chancellor Brown just looks weak.

All this is set against the background of terrible opinion poll ratings for the party and the by election in the seat that next door to Gordon’s that will have to take place in the autumn.

    My sense is that Darling has decided to go for broke and gives the impression of not caring what the endgame will be? That makes him even more dangerous.

A key question is whether enough of his parliamentary colleagues support him? After all it is only fifteen months since 313 of them backed Brown’s nomination for the leadership thus resulting in him getting the job unopposed. They were loyal then – will the threat of losing their seats, parliamentary salaries and allowances have changed their views?

Mike Smithson






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