I expect that some of you will be familiar with Haydn’s Farewell Symphony:
In the final movement, the orchestra members leave, one by one, until we are left with two violins left. And then the candle is snuffed out and we are left in darkness.
Today has been Labour’s Farewell Symphony.
So far, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, Tom Watson, the Cabinet Office minister, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, and Beverley Hughes, the Children’s Minister, are all leaving the Government. Others may follow.
The Prime Minister must be pole axed. There is absolutely nothing that he can do in the face of this disaster. This is – as one of my colleagues put it – 1997 in reverse.
At this stage in the game, it hardly matters what Gordon Brown does. There’s nothing he can do. An election must be called, sooner rather than later. It is a great pity.
In the meantime – and in the great order of things, it is a small point – my sincere hope is that the Government does not drop the ball on Islamism that was so well fielded by Ruth Kelly and Hazel Blears (and also by Jacqui Smith). There are certainly those in the Government who still see Islamist front organisations as part of the ‘solution’, rather than a significant part of the problem we face. I expect that there will be increasing pressure on Labour, particularly in opposition, to embrace the ‘Moderate Muslim Brotherhood/Jamaat-e-Islami’ thesis. It is important that Labour continues to reject the utterly false and dangerous notion that pro-jihadists can be bought off by allowing them to partner with Government.
Let this part of Gordon Brown’s legacy not be a shameful one.