It’s scuffles all around this week with various political faces banging their fists and asserting their claims to power. Across the pond Hilary Clinton is zealously keen to fight dirty with her opponents, whether it be Giuliani or her “fellow” Democrats Obama and Edwards. In France all seemed calm with a relatively dignified contest between the front-runners Sarkozy and Royal. That was until they were rattled by country bumpkin Francois Bayrou, who has managed to tiptoe his way into the spotlight. Italy’s political seesaw finally worked its magic for Berlusconi (not to mention his wallet), when his rival Romano Prodi was forced to step as prime minister last week after a defeat in parliament.
And it seems that things are also hotting up for Labour as thoughts increasingly turn to the uncertain future of the party’s leadership. But are they really hotting up? To be honest, no. In fact, it seems that Labour is riddled with such a lack of enthusiasm that a political tumbleweed is working its way through the entire party. Following last weeks Guardian/ICM poll the Tories were given a sizeable 13 point lead, when a portion of the prospective electorate were asked which party they would support in the likely contest between Brown, Cameron and Liberal Democrat, Sir Menzies Campbell. Obviously, this threw both the party and its supporters into disarray, but the party has, as the saying goes, made their bed and now they must lie in it.
There has been talk of genuine concern amongst the party, but confusingly, few solutions are emerging and apart from firm negative mumbles here and there, in the face of this disquiet the party is remaining, well, quiet. With criticism of Brown’s plans for leadership rife, there have been calls for a ‘proper’ leadership election, with a challenger of Cabinet rank. But who? According to former minister Frank Field, Brown is out of the question, not that the Chancellor would feel encouraged after hearing Field’s comparison of him to Mrs Rochester, a violent lunatic bent on escaping from her attic and burning her husband to death. Next to consider is Michael Meacher, the former (sacked) environment minister, who was described by fellow MP Stephen Pound as a ‘faintly ridiculous character’ who would only succeed in suffering humiliation. Finally, there’s Miliband, fresh-faced, yet uninterested in leadership, claiming that he is happy in supporting Brown, and it’s a similar story with Jack Straw.
To me it sounds like a deafening silence. With so much intra-party cynicism, I am surprised at Peter Hain’s recent accusations against Rory Bremner. He could even be quite a commendable politician: an eager listener and talker, open to discussions on party politics and enthusiastic to bond with government ministers. To be honest, with Labour’s current selection, we might be onto a winner.