I am usually loath to comment on the domestic politics of countries other than my own but, considering the more general implications of the story, I felt that the ongoing problems being encountered by Britain’s Labour Party were worth a mention:
June 7 (Bloomberg) — Gordon Brown’s Labour Party was bracing for defeat in elections for the European Parliament as more lawmakers from Britain’s ruling party called on the prime minister to step down.
“Can we get unity under the current leadership? I don’t think we can,” Charles Falconer, the former lord chancellor in charge of the judiciary, said on the BBC’s “Politics Show” in London today. “We need to debate that issue. And that may require a change in leader.”
Six ministers left Brown’s Cabinet last week, one calling for him to resign, as Labour trailed Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in voting for local government officials in England. With less than a year before the next general election, Labour lawmakers are questioning whether Brown is the man to lead them.
“A majority of Labour MPs, whether they are prepared to express it or not, feel he needs to go,” Siobhain McDonagh said on Sky News.
The rebellion so far is short of the level needed to force Brown into a leadership contest. Unless Brown quits, 70 of Labour’s 350 members of Parliament would have to publicly call for him to go before the party would consider replacing him.
Labour has been running into problems for some time now. First, Tony Blair, the man who put Labour in the driver’s seat, was forced to resign. Blair’s decline was partly a result of his support for what is in the United Kingdom an even less popular war than it is here, partly because of his health problems, partly because of the ambitions of the man who was to succeed him, Gordon Brown, and partly, I suspect, because of a rising level of dissatisfaction among Britons.
Since then Labour’s problems have been many. Not only do they own the UK’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan but they own Britain’s economic woes as well, much in the way Republicans are blamed for both of these here.
Labour has been rocked by a scandal involving the abuse of official expenses by MP’s.
Undoubtedly the inference that some will draw from all of this is the vileness of Labour but I don’t think that’s the right conclusion to draw. I have no doubt that the Tories in their turn will be equally vile. As Ambrose Bierce put it a conservative is “a statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others.”
No, I think the more proper conclusion to draw is that there is no substitute for good governance. Not party. Not ideology. Not purity of heart or courage or anything else. No party has a permanent lock on power or any right to power. Ultimately, in a representative democracy when any party fails to govern prudently, it will lose power. He who has ears let him hear!
UPDATE (James Joyner): I agree completely. See my New Atlanticist post “Britain’s Brown on Borrowed Time.”