Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What If Gordon Brown Went Under A London Bus?

It Almost Happened Once

I once had a brief conversation with Gordon Brown as he moved from the Commons on to Bridge Street to cross the road. As he swung round on the end of the pavement after our brief chat, he all but ended up under the wheels of a double-decker bus.

I know that as Prime Minister he will never have to navigate the London traffic in that way, but has anyone given any thought as to what would happen if he otherwise died in office? When John Smith died as Opposition Leader, he was succeeded by Margaret Beckett who had been elected via Labour's Electoral College to the Deputy Leadership post. Later fresh elections occurred and Tony Blair took over.

But presumably as things stand , the Deputy Prime Minister will be expected to take over the Prime Minister's role for (at least) the interregnum until fresh Party elections can take place. It might place the interim Prime Minister in a strong position in the nomination and ballot stakes.

Jon Cruddas Gives Us A Problem

If Jon Cruddas wins the Deputy Leadership battle, he will refuse to take on board the Deputy Premiership role, which is quite reasonable given that he hasn't got any experience as a Cabinet Minister. So the Deputy will then be Gordon's nominee. Would Party members be happy with, say, Jack Straw becoming the interim Prime Minister, without them having had a say in his election?

Perhaps Jon Cruddas is doing us a disservice by doing away with our rights to determine who will be Labour's Parliamentary Deputy if we plump for him. Is it too late for him to pull out of the race?

Sleeping Dogs

On the other hand, we managed with John Prescott being only a heart-beat from the Premiership for 10 years, so perhaps I am worrying about nothing.


Bob Piper said...

"Would Party members be happy with, say, Jack Straw becoming the interim Prime Minister, without them having had a say in his election?"

Harry, the Party members don't get any say on any of the other positions of patronage handed out by the Prime Minister, why would they get exercised over this one?

Personally I think the most progressive step the Party could take under the new PM would be to strip him of his baronial powers of patronage. If elections by MPs are good enough for the Shadow Cabinet, why not for Government? At the moment we give the same powers to a Prime Minister to appoint his Ministers, Bishops and Lords as some medieval monarch... and to make matters worse, we've just had a coronation too.

Harry Barnes said...


The matters you raise are important, but they aren't in front of us at the moment. We do have a vote for the Deputy Leadership and I don't see why we should add to the long list of patronage. The great strength of Jon Cruddas is that he won't take the job of covering for Gordon in his absences nor take a Ministerial post, so he can concentrate on party matters. I merely wished to point out that this stance is also his greatest weakness.

Elections for the Shadow Cabinet can't be all they are cracked up to be either, as I finished second off bottom the only time I stood!

susan press said...

Jon Cruddas? Don't get me started.....anti Trident, yes to more council housing and Party democracy, then he fails to nominate John McDonnell, the candidate who supports his policy platform. He's a disgrace and I'm sick of reading about his "left" credentials. At least Blears is an honest Blairite. If Gordon fell under a bus we would have to have a General Election pretty sharpish - and I can't see Cruddas winning that.