It’s been too late for Gordon Brown for at least a full parliamentary term. Using his party muscle to secure the leadership now is petulant political vandalism. He is shedding votes by the day.
Brown’s studied absence from the national debate on health, education, transport, immigration, the war in Iraq, Lebanon… (you name it, in fact) once seemed wise, above the fray. Now it seems creepy and Machiavelian. Not a good basis for a very public leadership campaign. Worse, if he deigns to rejoin the fray now and become a visible, engaged politician again, the public won’t buy it (“Ooh! Look at that funny, haggis-shaped man eating ice cream…”).
Snotty, frustrated backbenchers, party activists, MSPs et al need to remember that Tony Blair is the party’s most electable leader since… ooh… forever and that kicking him around the block just because they can will not serve them well in their next public contest.
Parties in general – and the Labour party in particular – are less relevant than they’ve ever been. Closing the committee room doors and sorting out the nation’s leadership over tea and big plates of biscuits is no longer an option. The relevant electorate this time round is not the party but the country.