'NOT SUCH A POISONED CHALICE'

Independent – 1 August 2008

With the Government's recent dire by-election results, it is widely being assumed that any new leader of the Labour Party would be a short-lived incumbent. In fact, a replacement for Gordon Brown could attain and retain the leadership for several years to come.

A new Prime Minister who held on to the bitter end in 2010 would indeed be ditched as Labour leader in the aftermath of electoral defeat; but one who went to the country quickly – on the grounds that it would be undemocratic to have two changes of Prime Minister in a single Parliament without an election – could hardly be blamed for an outcome which was not of his (or her) making. After the defeat, there would be every prospect of the new Labour leader being allowed to stay at the head of the Party right through to the following General Election.

Labour should send the "men in red coats" to visit Gordon immediately. The party could benefit from a more graceful exit from government; its new leader might survive to fight another day; and the country would gain the Conservative Prime Minister for whom it is ready and waiting.

(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA