There are many reasons to be frustrated if you’re a Labour supporter right now. First, there’s the epic squandering of political capital. In the year-and-a-bit since Labour’s important and unprecedented third general election victory in a row Labour has inexplicably surrendered so much ground to the Tories that the humungous electoral mountain that stands between Cameron and Number 10 looks – for the first time – climbable. Bugger.
Second, there’s the leadership’s profoundly depressing loss of authority. It’s scarily like the decline of the Tories post-Thatcher. The upper hand has been ceded to the kind of bitter backbenchers and ministerial nearly-men who brought Major low (the ‘bastards‘) and ultimately precipitated the 1997 Labour landslide. Stupid stupid stupid.
Third, and, I’ll admit, most depressing, there’s Gordon Brown, looking less and less like the quiet, competent, unflashy leader-in-waiting and more and more like a scheming Venetian Archbishop, hatching plots and directing his lieutenants from palazzo to palazzo in an effort to dethrone The Doge (that’s enough dodgy Italian Rennaiscance analogies – ed). Brown’s complete silence during the whole leadership row now seems both weird and calculating and his competence to lead both the party and an entire bloody country post-Blair is increasingly in question.
All of this (plus that bloody memo) points to an accumulation of the kind of political clumsiness many of us thought was now firmly in Labour’s past. Maybe it really is time for a bracing parliamentary term in opposition (just one please). Something to snap the party out of its solipsistic trance and get it back to thinking straight about Government.