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Friday, September 12, 2008 

Mutilating the corpse.

First things first - despite all the hype and spin, not necessarily down to Gordon Brown himself, but over enthusiastic briefers desperate to try and turn the corner and resorting to hyperbole, the "relaunch package", if it was ever meant to be one, has been an utter disaster. First the feeble attempts to get the housing market moving again when the only thing the government should be doing is to ensure that the fall in prices does not turn into a rout were rightly derided, then yesterday's utterly pitiful package of methods meant to deal with the rise in electric and gas bills fell apart with 24 hours, and as usual, was typically summed up by Steve Bell. With the energy companies warning they will indeed pass the cost onto the consumer and thumb their noses ever harder at everyone other than their shareholders, Downing Street is probably bitterly regreting not enforcing a windfall tax, which could have at least gone towards real across the board help which might have made something approaching a difference.

Brown then still has his reverse midas touch in full effect, with everything turning to shit the moment he looks at it; touching isn't even required. This hasn't though resulted, until today, in anything approaching an uprising against him. Some of those who previously looked as though they might have overthrown him during the summer holiday have instead fallen back and at the least decided to give him the benefit of the doubt until the end of the conference season. Charles Clarke's intervention last week, where he offered absolutely nothing other than a irrelevant reappraisal of Blairism, was dismissed and forgotten by the beginning of this week, such was the lack of gravitas which the former home secretary now suffers from.

In fact, Clarke's failure to articulate what Labour should be doing which it is not now seems to be a symptom that all those that want Brown to stand down now or to face a leadership challenge appear to share. No one could have probably predicted that it would be a whip that would be the next to speak out against Brown, but it could have been what views the individual that did has previously had and still has now. No surprises then that Siobhain McDonagh, formerly PPS to the ultra-Blairite thug John Reid has herself not once voted against the government (perhaps not quite true - it appears she voted moderately against the smoking ban, or at least wasn't there for a couple of votes). Some might see such blind sycophancy as an asset - others, considering the very worst excesses of New Labour, will see it as both tragic and nauseating.

Like with those that have given their names to an article in tomorrow's Progress magazine, which is of course the official Blairite journal, McDonagh doesn't offer anything even approaching an alternative way forward for Labour. They all want Brown to establish a "narrative" that will get us through the credit crunch, but they themselves don't want to articulate what it is. Their only suggestion is that Brown himself is not up to task, and must stand down and be replaced by someone equally ill-prepared to do anything other than sink further into the sand.

When considering what is such an alarming lack of lucidity and rigour, I can't help but be reminded of something that Alastair Campbell mentions in his diaries when it came to the media attacking Stephen Byers. They weren't just satisfied that they'd succeeded in killing him - i.e. by forcing his resignation - they had to desecrate and mutilate the corpse as well. So it is with the Labour party at the moment. They aren't just satisfied that they've completely destroyed it, probably as an electoral force for a generation if not for good through the disaster of Blairism, they want to gouge out its eyes and jump up and down on its brain as well. How else can you possibly account for such a pointless exercise as changing the leader yet again? Getting rid of Brown will not save the Labour party, especially when no one in it apart from the likes of Cruddas and the smarter brains of Compass when they're not devising windfall taxes has any idea as to what needs to be done to at least begin rebuilding general support, but it will further show the public that all the party cares about is infighting. Cutting one head off the corpse and replacing it with another, whether it's Miliband's or anyone else's, will not reconnect the blood flow. The one thing that might staunch the blood loss is a change in policies - but not a single one of those calling for Brown to go has suggested a single one that needs to be changed. They've brought Labour this low and they still don't get it. They are the problem - not the solution.

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