The long drought of potential Labour party leaders, the unanswerable question 'Who would replace Brown?' has ended and been answered. With not one but three candidates:
Charles Clarke, Harriet Harman, and Alan Johnson. Reserve: Alan Milburn.
This is a very good shortlist: blairite; woman candidate; cente-left, moderate union, Real Labour candidate. And a reserve sufficiently inappropriate to concentrate minds. Brown's last redoubt has been overwhelmed - there are perfectly credible replacement leaders, his 'there is no alternative' position has collapsed well within time to replace him and call the confirmatory general election that he failed to call when he bullied and lied his way to the premiership. Jack Straw, the fake alternative, is dead in the water, his Iraq war status and destroyed political reputation tarnishing the idea of him even as a caretaker leader in the event of Brown's collapse from enforced external circumstances (such as ill health) rather than political defeat.
The exposure of Brown's blight mechanisms for securing his and his cronies' positions has finally ruined them. The dreadful smear plans, so thoughtlessly extended outside wholly Labour politics; the 'hairdrier' treatment for Hazel Blears that forced an apology from her to a man who is a living exemplar of refused apologies, and has driven not just Labour women but all women to consider coldly Brown's bully boy coterie and tactics; the threats to pensions, savings, working conditions, wage levels, job security, and debt-driven cuts has made Real Labour really important to its natural, mass supporters rather than its Fabian, patronising, playboy social engineers. The Labour movement isn't about bourgeois feel-good, about imposed social equity or cultural choices.
Most of all the understanding that Brown has delivered nothing but increased inequality, unemployment, gigantic tax levels, and the end of hope, that he and his cabal can deliver nothing else, regardless of elections held or denied, that they have blighted even the next generation, has ended any notion that he cannot be replaced.
Brown must be replaced. Replaced now, before even the June elections, and any of the shortlist, but preferably Alan Johnson as the most representative of the mainstream Movement, must go to the country and accept their verdict. A verdict that will be greatly ameliorated by the removal of arrogance, incompetence, bullying, and corruption.
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