British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s hold on power slipped further this week after a senior minister resigned and recommended that a debate over Brown’s continued leadership, which the Prime Minister’s Office has tried to suppress, be allowed to “run its course.” Scotland Office Minister David Cairns’s resignation on Tuesday follows the weekend sacking of three junior MPs who asked that nomination forms be released for a leadership contest. Labour MPs have been quietly mutinous for months, blaming Brown for their
party’s losses in by-elections and Labour’s dismal standings in opinion polls. But until recently, most kept their dissent to themselves, calculating that overt rebellion would only make things worse for their party.
But now the plotters are out of the shadows. Barry Gardiner, one of the now-sacked MPs, used a Sunday newspaper column to call for a leadership contest, and described Brown’s premiership as one of “vacillation, loss of international credibility and timorous political manoeuvres that the public cannot understand.” For his sedition, Gardiner lost his position as Brown’s “special envoy for forestry”—while Brown learned that bestowing meaningless titles on MPs does not guarantee their loyalty.
The Labour Party will gather in Manchester this weekend for its annual conference, and what may be Brown’s last chance to convince the party to stick with him until the next general election. In the meantime, opposition politicians have judged it better to sit back and watch Labour’s fratricide rather than take part. Addressing a Liberal Democrat convention, Vincent Cable, the party’s shadow chancellor, cut short his comments about the Prime Minister. “I have no wish to kick a twitching corpse,” he said. M
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