The Sunday newspaper story that got the most headlines over the weekend was the serialisation of Peter Mandelson’s book in the Sunday Times, and the bit that’s got the most coverage is the apparent “revelation” that Clegg asked Brown to stand aside.
As Mike Smithson has pointed out, none of this is much of a surprise. It had been rumoured and speculated for a long time that should the election result be inconclusive, amidst a perception of Labour taking a good beating, Brown, as sitting PM, would have to take the flak for it. And yes, even this humble author wrote about it too.
Brown did try to say he’d go on and on, but it was never going to happen.
I remember some arguing that it was hardly the Lib Dems place to dictate who the Labour leader was in these post-election negotiations. After all, the Lib Dems had hardly had a successful election result either. Clegg’s hand should not have been strengthened, yet he still managed to play it in such a manner that Brown felt compelled to step aside.
The most intriguing thing is that Brown was going to quit later rather than sooner in the event of a Lib-Lab coalition. Remember that statement saying he would be going and Labour should put in place a timetable of events, and he would be caretaker leader in the interim? Only to be followed a day later with his immediate resignation from everything…
Something happened in those 24 hours that made him see the writing on the wall. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but in any event whoever made him see the light should have our thanks. Perhaps that’s what Mandelson should be revealing instead?
Labour are in a sorry state at the moment anyway, but if Brown had still been leading the party right now, while the leadership contenders bickered over his legacy, and constantly had to skirt around the issue of whether they “supported” him, it would have made everything rather surreal.
In summary then, what we have is the Sunday Times telling us about something that most people speculated was going to happen, and then actually did. We also probably had the good fortune not to suffer the bizarre instance of a Lib-Lab coalition with a temporary PM, followed by another unelected PM; and a Labour leadership election stifled by power, which would have resulted in an even more boring campaign than the current one.
Brown was going, one way or another. The idea that he could have stayed any longer than he did is just untenable.
The Sunday Time is gonna have to feature something a little better than this if they want people to stump up the cash. Surely the Dark Lord has better anecdotes to share?