Friday 5 September 2008

Truce? The rules of party leadership challenges

Today's Guardian kindly runs a brief extract from my Comment is Free blog on Charles Clarke in the comment pages today. But the wording of the cross-reference to the piece on the politics pages made me laugh:

Charles Clarke has signalled a truce on the Labour leadership question, says Sunder Katwala.

Well, I don't know that I quite said that. If it was an olive branch, it was certainly a well disguised one! So "truce" does sound rather Panglossian. I am not sure whether this could be called a ceasefire or an armistice, but the central point about yesterday's interview was surely that Charles Clarke made his public intervention on the leadership in the way that he did because he doesn't have the troops, and has failed to convince the Cabinet.

The rules of major politicians explicitly opening up the question of a leadership challenge are surely that if you can't put up, you have to shut up.

Otherwise this will shut down the massively important public debate we do need - about the condition of the party and how to rebuild our standing, our positive argument for fairness, and how to take on the Conservatives.

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