Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The gathering storm

A Minister of State in a department that many think has no real purpose is not high up the political food chain and is probably not even a household name in Scotland. Nevertheless, this latest resignation is more significant than a challenge from the former assistant minister of fish or whatever. It is another blow for Gordon Brown and keeps the media feeding frenzy going.

Apparently this particular minister was flushed out through his links with a minor rebel (Siobahn McDonagh) and as a former Catholic priest could not square defending Gordon with his conscience.

Ms McDonagh got star billing in the Sunday Times under the heading 'Will this woman bring down Brown?' The obvious answer is 'probably not', even though the article reveals that the devout Catholic MP is being compared to Joan of Arc. Burning at the stake in her suburban constituency of Mitcham and Morden is not on the agenda.

Senior Cabinet ministers feel that Gordon Brown should be given his chance to rally the party at what will undoubtedly be a ferbile conference. But he is unlikely to assuage the doubts and the poll numbers will not recover. So it's going to be a tough autumn for Gordon and he could eventually be pushed. But there is still no clear successor and it won't be the Cabinet minister who wields the knife (remember Michael Heseltine?)

Meanwhile, Dave Cameron can sit back and enjoy the mayhem, hoping that it will continue as long as possible before a Labour leadership contest is followed by a general election. Canada once had a woman prime minister who held office for some weeks before being defeated in a general election. Step forward Harriet Harman.

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