Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Non-story of the day

It was my intention to brighten up my readers' day by putting up a video of Moira Shearer dancing in "Red Shoes", a wonderful Powell and Pressburger film, which I finally saw last week. (Three cheers for the National Film Theatre.) Sadly, it has proved to be impossible to embed the central ballet sequence, not, I may add, because of my incompetence but because of somebody's control freakery.

As I have no desire to post comments about the snow or the coldest winter since .... ooooh at least 1982 .... or any of the usual gumf about transport breaking down, schools closing down (that happened in 1987 or 1988, as I recall) and everything coming to a full stop. That leaves me with the biggest non-story of the day: the plot to oust Gordon Brown, its entirely predictable failure and the flap the Conservatives, politicians and commentators have got themselves into.

This morning everyone (well, about three dozen people) became very excited because a couple of Labour has-beens, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, sent an e-mail to every MP in which they called for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown as leader. Of course, this disregarded several matters: the Labour Party's structure and constitution are such that it is well-nigh impossible to oust a leader who does not want to go; the last time they could have done it was at the Conference and they did not; nobody in their right mind would start a leadership election so close to a general election unless they absolutely had to and the Labour Party does not.

For several hours everyone (well, about fifty people) was on tenterhooks: will this succeed? No Minister has come out to support Brown, we were told breathlessly by one of the Tory bloggers (and I forget which one). This will lead to an early election, was the opinion heard everywhere (well, on Tory blogs and Facebook pages). Brown will have to go; Brown is a coward because he will not go; Brown .....

Well, there we are, ladies and gentlemen. By this evening two leading Labour Minister, David Miliband and Harriet Harman have come out in support of Brown and the crisis, it would appear, is over. Here are a few links that give the story in greater detail. ToryBoy blog tells us what Conservatives want from the Snowstorm plot (oh dear, the wit), then tells us that Hoon and Hewitt agree with Cameron that "we cannot go on like this", then assures us that the snowstorm in the teacup will be wonderful news for the Tories (having told us that if it succeeded it would have been wonderful news for the Tories).

Iain Dale spent most of the day updating the story with the odd interruption for the Peter Robinson story, which really should be of no concern to any journalist and blogger. (A politician's wife has an affair and tries to commit suicide is not something we all have the right to know about.)

I have no problems with wishful thinking; indeed, most of politics is wishful thinking. Therefore, I accept that the Tories got all excited because the Labour Party was about to tear itself to pieces over a leadership challenge. It might have been a good idea for them to find out whether this challenge ever had the slightest chance but that would have been realism not wishful thinking.

However, there are a few points one needs to make. In the first place, it might be a good idea for the Tories and their various bloggers to make up their minds whether they want Gordon Brown as leader or not and whether his presence is a good thing from their point of view or not.

Then it might be a good idea to make up their minds whether having an early election (which we shall not have, as this blog and EUReferendum have consistently predicted) is actually such a good idea from their point of view. Would calling an election in the middle of a really cold winter (an insane thing to do) make people feel warm about politicians at all?

Thirdly, the Tories should look outside the Westminster bubble. As far as most people are concerned today's non-events were of precious little interest. At present the Tories' lead is not so spectacular in the opinion polls as to justify their complacency and if this is the best they can do by way of political campaigning, they are not going to attract many more votes.

Fourthly, it is time to understand that the election will solve nothing. Regardless of who wins the most seats, the government in Brussels will not change any time soon.

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