As if Gordon Brown is not looking battered enough, today he had to suffer another attempt at stirring up support to oust him as his party’s leader.
This time, it came in the shape of a letter sent to his own MPs, penned by ex-ministers Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
As we move towards a general election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is deeply divided over the question of the leadership.
Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance.
We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the government.
Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.
Strong supporters of the prime minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach.
There is a risk, otherwise, that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party to devote all of their efforts to winning the election.
The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.
This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited.
It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.
In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents.
We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt
Normally, I would not reproduce the whole text of a letter in my posts and certainly not one that started “Dear Colleague”. Given the technology now available, it is not difficult to make each letter appear as if it is personally addressed to the recipient.
However, the reason I have done so today, is to demonstrate there is not one single mention, hint or reference as to what is best for the country; it is only about what is best for the party and individual MPs. We do not exist in the world governed by self-interest!
Given there is no-one in the party brave enough to openly admit they are willing to stand against their leader, this coup attempt seems doomed – yet again – to failure.
It has been said that every village needs an idiot and the village of Westminster has just gained two more!