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Wednesday, January 06, 2010 

The world's worst coup.

It's official: the Labour party is crap at coups. While it's tempting to suggest that's something to do with the fact that the Labour party as a whole is crap, and that wouldn't be far wrong, for some reason no one in the party has ever seemed to have the killer instinct. Certainly not when compared to the Tories, for whom plotting over the years delivered the heads of both Thatcher and Duncan-Smith, and almost Major as well.

Perhaps it's got something to do with how those who finally summon up the courage to go public with their demands for the leader to stand down, or this time round for a "secret ballot" to be held, which certainly isn't a coup attempt, oh no, are either yesterday's men or those with chips on their shoulders, ala James Purnell last year. Seriously, did Geoff "Buff" Hoon and Patricia "most patronising person to ever wear a pair of shoes" Hewitt really think they were going to set the world alight by demanding that it was time for Brown to face the parliamentary Labour party? It's hardly Michael Heseltine or that other least likely individual to rebel, Geoffrey Howe, complaining about finding that the bat had been broken by the team captain once he had gone out to bat, is it?

Oh, but they had such a hard-hitting team behind them, didn't they? The Safety Elephant, Labour's honorary BNP member Frank Field, Barry Sheerman, who no one has ever heard of, and Fiona MacTaggart, who first felt that legalising prostitution in certain zones might be a good idea then changed her mind completely once told sweet little lies about people trafficking. Again, you're not allowed to mention that with the exception of Field, who's always hated Brown because he blocked his "thinking the unthinkable" on welfare reform and possibly Sheerman that they're all Blairites. Not that either Hoon or Hewitt have anything as dignified as differences with Brown on policy, although Clarke and Field do; this is all about the fact that they somehow imagine that simply by replacing the man at the top Labour will instantly reclaim its rightful place at the top of the polls, vanquishing the upstart Cameron and leading them into that historic fourth term.

If it wasn't so desperate and counter-productive it would be hilarious. Oh, all right, it is hilarious, and the only real meaningful response is the one on Liberal Conspiracy, which is to come up with some lolcats. While some backbenchers almost certainly are despairing of Brown leading them into the election, the idea that you can do it now bloodlessly and without laying the foundations for internal fratricide is ludicrous. The very real damage being done is, as it was always likely, to the party as a whole: it gives credence to the continual Tory claim that Labour is hopelessly divided and that the only way to sort it out is to install them instead. Already out is the "we can't go on like this" billboard, now featuring Buff and Hewitt instead of Cameron's hideously airbrushed bonce, and you can't help but imagine it's going to be "bucket of shit" time in the papers tomorrow, even when the coup attempt has been so laughable.

The only real debate within Labour has been between those fearing that Brown and Balls have been brewing up a "core vote strategy" and those around Peter Mandelson who despaired of that when honesty was needed regarding the size of the deficit and the need for cuts. As seen by the first movements in the election campaign, both the Tories and Labour are still in denial when it comes to just how sweeping and deep the cuts are going to be, still squabbling over the small print while completely ignoring the bigger picture. Neither party is offering anything other than the same old, same old. That you could probably replace Brown with Cameron as leader of the Labour party and hardly notice any significant policy differences is the biggest indictment of politics as a whole at the moment; that though would be a coup worth writing about.

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I do agree that Lib Con's use of lolcats is the most profound thing about this hole shambles.

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