Labour MPs watched in silence as Gordon Brown was returned to 10 Downing Street after PMQ’s today.
William Hague said yesterday that the government are ‘a row of political corpses now’.
If that is so, then someone somewhere is artificially ventilating the Brown cadaver, for by all the laws of putrification he should be decently buried by now. His Home Secretary, His Cabinet Minister, His Communities Secretary, His Children’s Minister, have fled - not fired, which might have reinforced his authority, nor reshuffled, which might have restored his credibility, but simply run screaming out the door - ostensibly for reasons, which have been valid for some weeks, but which suddenly proved irresistible two days before an important election.
The rolling news is reminiscent of listening to the football results on an old valve radio……Backbenchers 2, Cabinet Ministers 4………Hurrah! we all shout, as we fill in another cross on the coupon. We should cease feeling so elated - for these are ‘own goals’, handed to us on a plate - we, the electorate, have no power to insist that any of them leave until next year. The Queen has no power to insist that any of them leave until next year. The Labour party has no power to insist that Gordon Brown leaves.
The convention is, that a Prime Minister, so patently mistrusted and disliked by his own ‘team’, never mind the electorate, would do the honourable thing, and step aside out of embarrassment. PMQ’s today was an atmosphere of pregnant expectation, street theatre as Cameron and Clegg played to the gallery, knowing full well that they were suffering from ‘Constitutional Droop’ and firing verbal blanks.
The loyal troops - Toynbee advising her devotees not to vote Labour, the Guardian helpfully publishing a ‘wish list’ that involves Gordon Brown being forced from office by June 9th, have deserted him, even the party political broadcasts cannot find anything positive to say in Brown’s favour, they leave him out of their broadcast altogether and focus on the ‘terrible alternatives’.
‘Better Brown than Dead’ seems to be the message.
Is it a case of the oft hinted autism that leaves the man able to deliver his wooden message of ‘it started in America’, ‘hard working British families’, parodied to such ruthless effect, without hint of appearing to notice the anger around him, or is someone, somewhere, stiffening his resolve, persuading him to hang in there, for some greater good - theirs for instance?
I had even started to wonder whether Mandelson was on that ill fated flight 477 from Brazil, so quiet has he been.