Why the only eventual Blairite candidate against Brown left is John Reid? Reid cannot win a Labour leadership contest; even though he might win a general election (chance that, for the reason just given, Reid is not going to get). So not only Reid’s eventual candidature would not be meant to win; but also the present rumors over Reid’s eventual candidature are not aimed at defeating Brown. But this does not mean that keeping Reid’s threat hanging in the air is not a way of weakening Brown. I think it is, in fact, a way of making sure that the next Brown, the one who will be, in this order, Labour Leader, Prime Minister, and then Labour candidate at the next general election, will turn out to be a Blairite. Reid is, today, Blair’s insurance policy on his retirement years: a way of making sure that Brown does not turn around on the issues over which he might, conceivably, turn around. ID Cards, for example; but more generally Britain’s and the West’s relationship to Islam and ‘The Other’. That Brown, differently from what still too many believe, won’t be a different PM on economic and social policy than he is a Chancellor, goes without saying. It isn’t obvious, on the other hand, that Brown will maintain Blair’s take on foreign policy and integration at home (especially given that there might be a general shift away from there, already started with the Mid-Term elections in the US). This is why Reid is there: not so much to reserve his post as Blair’s Big Man in Brown’s next government. But because Reid’s ghost, or eventually his candidature, will make Brown commit himself from the beginning (from the leadership contest) to the side of Blair to which Brown is not ideologically committed. And, which is the most important, the fact that Reid is there to lose means that Brown has already accepted all this – finally becoming PM is well worth enduring some bullying – even though the bully is a pretty scary wide-jawed one.
Reid: Blair’s insurance policyDecember 11, 2006