Wednesday, August 16, 2006

John Reid: The backlash begins...

Every Labour politician who has ever been spoken about as a potential alternative leader to Gordon Brown has eventually suffered a media backlash, and it is already clear that John Reid will be no exception.

Today's piece by Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail is fairly typical of the kind of thing we can expect as the prospect of a bloody battle over the corpse of New Labour grows ever closer.

"One wonders why Mr Blair's assumed heir apparent Gordon Brown, who is on paternity leave, did not think it right to return to London to restore order. Perhaps he has taken the view that, far from improving his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister, Dr Reid has, in fact, dramatically reduced them.

"For the spectacle of this sinister old Marxist seizing control is enough to make most of us feel like taking to the hills. It should also persuade Labour MPs that this rather scary figure is unlikely ever to work his way into the affections of Middle England."

The change of mood was also reflected in a piece on Political which last Friday was reporting a sharp tightening of Reid's leadership odds in the wake of his performance over the terror raids.

Today, however, Mike Smithson was posing the question whether some of Reid's past indiscretions might catch up with him, including an occasion on which he called the pictured Jeremy Paxman a West London Wanker.

My own view on the matter has not altered since I penned last week's Saturday Column. In an ideal world, Reid would be the first choice of very few Labour MPs or party members and I do not currently expect him to beat Mr Brown in a straight contest.

But if the party's poll ratings were to plummet and Reid's public approval ratings consistently topped those of the Chancellor, they might, repeat might just have to bite the bullet and elect him.

Update: I somehow neglected to include this excellent post from Iain Dale depicting Roy Hattersley's likely reaction if Reid becomes Prime Minister.

The Lardy one apparently told Scottish radio listeners that he would SHOOT himself if the Home Sec got the job, though sadly no link to the original story appears to exist.

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Toque said...

You don't offer much in the way of personal opinion Paul. Personally I don't disagree with your quote from Stephen Glover (I'm presuming that you don't either) but then I don't see Gordon Brown as capable of working his way into the affections of middle England either - and electoral success is the only barometer.

Paul Linford said...


I think I've been perfectly clear about my personal opinion - I expect Gordon Brown to win the leadership, but there are certain circumstances in which the party might be forced - reluctantly - to opt for Reid. I do think these are the only serious contenders at the moment though. Johnson is a relative lightweight beside these two "big beasts," although of course so was Major beside Hurd and Heseltine.

I don't in fact share Stephen Glover's view that John Reid is a "sinister old Marxist" and I don't think he has damaged his leadership chances over the past week. I do however agree that Reid is not a candidate who is likely to work his way into the affections of "Middle England."

I am assuming you are as vehement in your opposition to Reid as you are to Brown?

media scum said...

Just a odd though. The media seems to have dropped the 'Dr' reference to JR - something he used to be very sensitive about. Instead he's now simple 'John Reid' - which, as a set of short names, seems akin to 'Bruce Wayne' or 'Clark Kent' - a.k.a. the saviours of mankind or am i off the wall here ?