Wither Gordon Brown?

In the midst of scandal and economic turmoil can Gordon Brown hang onto the keys at 10 Downing St?  Should he try to hang onto the keys?  Basically, he has 3 options.  He could dissolve Parliament now and call immediate elections.  He could step aside and let someone else in the Labor Party take leadership for the next 10 months plus.  Or he could retain his position and lead Labor into elections when they would have to be held in May 2010.

Dissolving Parliament would be absurd.  Labor would almost certainly get killed right now.  Its what Conservative Leader David Cameron wants, for the obvious reason that he would get to be on the other side of the dispatch box in short order.

Stepping aside might make some sense for the party.  It would let them put a new face, a face not tied to the payout scandal, on the party.  If the economy improves and the scandal fades before next May, that person might be able to retain power in a Labor resurgence.  However, the process of choosing Brown’s successor could quite possibly rip the party assunder as there is no clear alternative.  Unless they quickly coalesced behind one, the government would either be weak and useless, or Labor would actually be unable to form a government and elections they would definitely lose would have to be held.

So I suggest Brown try to hang on and be the party’s standard-bearer in elections next May.  The pay scandal will likely have receded by then as other issues of the day surface.  And maybe the economy improves.  Maybe Cameron and the Conservatives do something stupid to squander their opportunity.  And maybe none of those things happen and Brown and Labor get creamed.  But that would more certainly happen if the elections were advanced or Brown moved to the back bench.  So I suggest Brown stay the course and see what happens come May 2010.  It can’t be worse than what would happen now.

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