The hard left Labour MP John McDonnell has confirmed that he wants to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. Mr McDonnell accused Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of systematically alienating various strands of Labour’s rainbow coalition – "students, pensioners, public service workers, trade unionists, green activists and civil liberties and peace campaigners". He’ll need more than forty Labour MPs to sign his leadership bid in order for it to become valid. This might become complicated if other left-wingers want to stand. Lynne Jones and Michael Meacher have also been mentioned as possible challengers to the man who has recently upset the left with his support for nuclear power stations and a replacement for Trident. There may need to be some sort of primary on to agree on an anti-Brown candidate but the left’s tendency to squabble about almost everything may make this tricky.
Will a left-wing challenge be good for the Tories?
NO: Labour will get lots of publicity during its months-long leadership election and it will be a perfect way for Gordon Brown to relaunch himself. He will show that – in comparison with the Labour left – he is moderate. He will show – in comparison with David Cameron – he has the experience to be a strong leader for Britain.
YES: A Labour leadership election will expose Labour divisions. The Conservative Party – already seen by voters as more united than Labour – will be able to exploit these divisions and show that Gordon Brown will be a prisoner of these left-wingers. Tony Blair could attack the left with impunity when he had majorities of 170 but thirty or forty left-wing MPs – energised by a leadership election – will be able to hold Gordon Brown to ransom in parliamentary votes.
What do you think?