Can today be as frenzied as Friday?
Posted on 7 June 2009 | 10:06am
There is a downside to political frenzy for the political journalists who feed on it. That is that the higher you crank it up, the harder it is to keep cranking higher.
There has barely been a day in recent times in which there has not been a TV talking head saying he/she had never known a day like it.
So today, as the European election results come in, we are likely to have another day like we have never had since, well, probably Friday. Only, probably, it won’t be.
For the cranking to continue, the results really have to be worse than expected, and given that there have already been suggestions of Labour finishing fourth in the share of the vote – admittedly a grim prospect – that seems unlikely.
So we know the results are going to be terrible, and we know there will be some who will call upon the outcome as further evidence that Gordon Brown has to go.
But politics is often about mood and moment, and I suspect the worst mood and moment came with the news that James Purnell – far more dramatically than Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears – was resigning from the Cabinet (one of those ‘never known a day quite like it’ days for the TV boys and girls rushing around with their Times and Sun front pages for the late late news.) Subsequent resignations have not been great for the PM, but none had quite that impact.
Friday may have been messy and difficult, and such was the mood of the media that GB was going to get written down for his press conference whatever he did, but he got his new Cabinet in place and headed for the scene of the D-Day landings.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet having been the expected source of a planned and concerted push as James Purnell quit, which never came, now attention turns to backbench MPs.
Unlike the whips, I have not been ringing round. But I would be surprised if too many outside the so-called ‘usual suspects’ will be putting their heads above the parapet tonight, while some of the usual suspects appear to be heading in the opposite direction, speaking up for calm and stability.
There is nothing ignoble in MPs making calculations as to whether they are more or less likely to win or lose their seats according to different sets of circumstances. They may well have heard ‘he has to go’ from some of their activists and constituents. But as I said here when The Guardian made that call, the ‘what then?’ questions really do have to be answered.
And MPs, however worried or angry they may be, know that a second unelected PM is untenable as a political proposition, so that a new leader, should there be one, would have to go straight to the country, and amid the current atmosphere created by recession and MPs’ expenses, that cannot be a happy prospect.
Today’s frenzy may not quite match Friday’s.