Splash in The Times today has Caroline Flint, minister for Europe, taking a swipe at Gordon Brown over his lack of even handedness in dealing with Hazel Blears. Flint has blatantly challenged his authority and good for her.
Flint says in The Times that Blears should not lose her job in any cabinet reshuffle as a political scapegoat over the expenses fiasco. She has made her comments after Brown on Friday came to the defence of cabinet ministers Geoff Hoon and James Purnell, who were accused of not paying capital gains tax on their second homes.
Brown, as the Guardian reported, said there was “no problem” with their financial arrangements. Hoon, the transport secretary, and Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, were said to have acted “within the letter of the law and the spirit of the parliamentary rules”.
But at the same time Brown continued to say that the failure of communities secretary, Hazel Blears, to pay tax on her second home sale was “totally unacceptable”. What’s that about?
This is clearly wrong. Brown is playing party politics, which only highlights his total inability to see any bigger picture and do anything political useful about it for the Labour Party. This is not the time.
The paper goes on to say that in further signs of “the febrile atmosphere at the top of government”, some ministers are now speculating that Brown could be persuaded to call an autumn election.
The sources told the Times that that, with Labour apparently heading for defeat next year, the only way Brown can rescue the party is to be bold and go to the country.
I think those ministers now speculating are right and if Labour waits the Tories will get away with it. Sadly, we have seen before what happens to efforts to persuade Brown to call an early election. He bottled it good and proper in Autumn 2007.
David Cameron is a multi millionaire who is thought to be worse in excess of £30m (nothing wrong with that, of course), but it is disgraceful that he has been claiming £1,700 a month mortgage interest expenses and his party of duck house owners and moat claiming clearers should not be allowed to portray themselves other than what they have always been.
Brown should go to the polls in October and fight it out while there is still fighting to be done.