This is quite an interesting development – with a mandated general election looming, several former cabinet ministers are calling for a fresh referendum on Gordon Brown’s leadership to ensure the Labour party is really quite sure they want him around to fight the general election.
From the Times just now:
Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary, and Patricia Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, have written to all Labour MPs calling for the leadership issue to be sorted out â€œonce and for allâ€.
A source close to the former Cabinet ministers, both of whom were allies of Tony Blair, said: â€œWe can’t go on like this.â€
The timing – just before the first Prime Minister’s questions – was intended to be devastating. The Prime Minister understood to been made aware of the attack shortly before the session.
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt both wrote a letter to fellow Labour MP’s demanding a that Gordon Brown’s leadership be decided once and for all.
The Labour Coup letter in full: the letter from Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt:
As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.
Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.
This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.
In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt
The buildup to the British General Election just got a hell of a lot more interesting. We’ll keep you posted.