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The Andrew Goff column

LABOUR'S BROWN TROUSERS

25-06-2006

I'm confused by the apparent non-democratic anointing of the next leader of the Labour Party. If Tony Blair went to war in the name of freedom, justice and democracy then surely his own party will want a little FJD too. Why do the media and the Party assume Gordon "Grumpy" Brown will automatically be plopped into place?

The problem is that if Grumpy wasn't in the frame then Blair would be in an even weaker position than he is now. At the moment he is appearing to promise a smooth transition, but this is only possible if the wannabee leaders sublimate their passionate desire to run the show - step forward the ever popular Doctor John "the night tripper" Reid.

As things are, it looks like a one out, one in and the project goes ahead unchanged. Grumpy is joining in too - committed to replacing Trident, keep the troops abroad until the jobs done, not talk too much about Europe and, most important of all, keep the yanks happy.

Why isn't there an outpouring of anguish from the Party roots demanding a proper leadership election with maybe even, heaven forefend, a woman candidate? (Although please don't let it be that dreadful Patricia Hewitt).

Of course, the last thing Blair wants is the media full of speculation surrounding who would win a contest. That would take away his ability to control the news agenda. His ego won't allow that even if the damage he does to the Labour Party ejects them from power.

Tony Blair doesn't want someone winning more elections and staying in power longer than he has. Ergo, his place in history will at least be assured by a handover to Grumpy rather than anything of substance.

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