Saturday, August 23, 2008

Will Brown be challenged?

There is something disconcerting about watching Gordon Brown, Labour's most unpopular leader ever, trying to boost his ebbing popularity by mixing with the sportspeople who have made such a success of the Olympics for the UK. I have even seen Labour attempt to claim credit for the successes. If any politician can claim credit, it has to be John Major. He brought in the National Lottery which has been the key source of funding for the facilities sport in the UK which had previously been starved of cash.

But for once, I have to say that Brown's smile was genuine, rather than that the rather chilling, forced grin he often exhibits. Why? Well firstly, who wouldn't be happy whilst mixing with the best of British athletes who have just knocked up our best Olympics performance for a generation. Secondly, I think he has calculated the chances of a leadership challenge before the end of recess in October are diminishing fast.

Now that Labour are over the shock of the loss of Glasgow East, the hysteria about Brown has died down. David Miliband's article was a wonder for a few days and was seen as a challenge at the time. A month later and talk of a challenge has withered.

Assuming the Glenrothes by election is held after the party conferences (and that now seems a safe assumption), the next hurdle for Brown is his conference speech. And no matter how poorly her performs, I find it hard to believe Labour will assassinate their own leader using his conference speech as the trigger. And let's face it, Brown will throw the whole government machine into the battle for his own survival.

Will Miliband challenge Brown? I think it unlikely. I don't think he's got either the balls or the backing to do it. As I have said on this blog before, I do not believe there is an appetite for a new leader who is so closely identified with Blair. Indeed, I think that the lack of a leadership challenge from Miliband will undermine his credibility further. For that he has himself to blame as he failed to close down the speculation a month ago that he could challenge Brown. He failed to stand last year, he failed to challenge this year. He is a man who fails - and that will be more Labour members' view of him than mine.

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