What’s Mandelbum’s agenda?

It’s coming to something when Peter Fondlebum is the voice of common sense. But then, I suppose it depends on who he is being compared with. In this case, it’s Harriet Hormone. So there we are. (H/T Bella Emberg)

With all the duckings and weavings since his return to office (and accession to the green benches) – one has to wonder what the flying lentil-grass is going on.

There has been, prior to this latest outburst, his reminder to displaced workers that they can always go and get jobs in other EU countries, his vigorous defence of the UK economy against NuLab major funders Unite and against the bloke who launched Starbucks.

So what does the lizard-king want? Leadership of the party? I think not – he is a creature of the shadows, his love of attention notwithstanding. Kingmaker is more like it. It has been his role in the past, with the making of Blair. It seems to have given him everything, with so few of the downsides that it’s laughable.

But if he’s playing games to position himself as Kingmaker again, why all this publicity that is antagonistic toward the left? I can’t help thinking he’s planning something more public and he knows (or judges) something about Gordo that others at the top of the party either don’t know, or are in denial about.

Suppose that, as the architect of Blairism, he figures that people do in fact miss Blair – who was pretty right wing as far as the Labour Party is concerned – and his plan for Labour hanging on at the next election is to show that centre-ground politics (an area Broon has never been comfortable in) are still in the purview of the party. That will involve two things – 1st will be replacing Brown with a Blairite – I don’t know who just now, but Balls and the Millipedes are out. 2nd will be 1994 all over again – the crushing of the left wing animals currently being roused from their comfortable slumber on the back-benches (and as ministers).

The betting markets seem to indicate that most are assuming the next (permanent) leader of Labour will be selected after a general election defeat. Which is why Harriet Hormone is favourite at 10/3 against. If there’s a poisoned chalice I’d like her to have, it would be this. Interesting that William Hague, who picked up that mantle for the Tories in ‘97, is effectively shadowing Hormone – they do so at PMQs in the absence of Broon.

But I’m increasingly convinced that there is a chance of a change of leader this year. The strategy, if Mandelbum’s signals mean anything, is a drastic reversion to Blairite centrism, in time for a fighting chance at an election next June. It would never be possible if Broon’s grip on power and reality wasn’t loosening so obviously – but it is, and it is.

So who? Purnell is in the frame (9/1) – he’s bright but he’s wet behind the ears. I seem him up for a realistic stab at Labour leadership in the situation where Labour lose the next election and Harriet Hormone spends 3 years being lampooned and lambasted as the hand on the tiller of the Mary Celeste. Of course, I think Purnell is a prime candidate for defection to the Tory benches if pragmatism is in his grasp. He’ll need to get a proper fucking haircut first, though.

So who? Well, there was recent press mention that Blair wanted Charles Clarke (50/1) to succeed him, but that won’t wash. I think Jack Straw is the most likely option (12/1), followed by Alan Milburn (33/1), who has been conspicuously absent recently.

We will see – the only thing for sure is that the wheels are falling off Gordo’s wagon. Which brings us to a more fundamental question: What on earth made Gordo bring Mandelbum back? Perhaps it was the price he had to pay for calling off the leadership challenges last year.




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