It's that time of year I guess where people give their predictions for the year to come. My colleague Tom Harris (Mystic Tom?) has stared into the crystal ball and predicted that Labour can and will win a fourth term with a reduced majority.
He's right - we can win but in order to do so we need a change of leader. As Labour MP Barry Sheerman writes cogently in today's Indy, we have a leader who is disastrously more unpopular than our party. Labour has been appallingly ill-served by a cabal surrounding Gordon Brown. First they destabilised Tony Blair's leadership, an act of shocking disloyalty to someone who had won us an unprecedented three election victories in a row; then they ensured that Gordon was crowned leader rather than elected (along with others I spent some time in early 2007 seeing if we could get enough Labour MPs to nominate any serious contender to take on Gordon. We got just about the requisite number of names but we couldn't find a member of the cabinet who dared take on Gordon's people for fear of what they would do - is that the kind of leadership that we really want?); which leads us to the next dirty trick of Gordon's cabal: the smearing of opponents. As one Minister said at the time, the really shocking thing about the McBride fiasco wasn't that they were attempting to trash the personality of an opponent but that it was someone of a different party for a change. We deserve better.
The people that I represent need a Labour Government and I am desperate to see one returned in 2010. I've written before that we need a change of strategy but more than that we need a change of leader. The Tories are still, rightly, mistrusted by a large section of the electorate and the result of the next election is not a foregone conclusion. There is a sizeable section of the electorate which has not decided how to vote yet but they have, sad to say, decided not to vote for us if Gordon is still our leader come polling day. I realise that this may be an uncomfortable truth but it is a truth nonetheless, and one which every Labour MP knows from talking to constituents. I hold no brief to support any alternative leader and, in truth, almost any of the senior figures in our party would seriously narrow the gap with the Tories if they took over in January. Gordon loves the Labour party but the best thing that he could do now to help it stay in office would be to leave its leadership. If not, we look to the de facto Deputy Prime Minister to tell him the harsh truths. Carpe diem, Lord Mandelson.
Well you couldn't get much clearer than that, could you? So, Lord Mandelson, are you prepared to do your final service to your Party?