UK Politics

Keeping perspective

Good sense and straight thinking on the ‘Blair crisis’ from Polly Toynbee today.

In the real world, Labour has a remarkably resilient leader, likely to win a never-before third term. Keep things in perspective. Whatever Blair’s deficiencies, keeping the Tories out matters most of all for poor pensioners, poor children, schools, hospitals and the low paid.

Another issue that matters is: what might make Blair better? This crisis should make him turn to his real friends for support and inspiration. His only electoral peril is if too many of these Labour voters stay home through distaste or indifference. This may be the most redistributive government since Attlee, but the anger and frustration of its natural supporters that it could be so much better needs assuaging. They need a shot of inspiration.

Some dreamers look elsewhere. To unseat Blair, 25% of Labour MPs, over 100, need to back a challenger. Brown is no chancer and it’s not going to happen. If it did, the internecine warfare would be catastrophic. The chances are that Blair will lead his party into the next election and he will win.

The puzzle is why there is a wistful hopefulness that Brown would usher in a new golden age, or what the New Statesman calls a “radical watershed”. It’s a dream enjoyed by Labour’s enemies on the right as well.

And then she goes on to show why Gordon Brown would not be a more ‘classic Labour’ alternative to Blair.

She’s right. Like it or not, for the moment backing Blair is the only option for the left if we want to avoid a real crisis.