Clarke to run?
After he was telling people to stop plotting leadership campaigns only a few days ago, the Sunday Times reports that Charles Clarke is going to run for Leader himself.
This could of course, all be an April Fool, but I fear not.
I simply do not understand what Clarke expects to achieve.
If as stated, his objective is to provoke a debate, it implies he has serious policy differences with Brown. We know he is anti-Trident replacement, but other than that I can only assume that the policy differences are regarding domestic issues where he is in some way further to the right than Brown. Is there really a constituency of party members, trade unionists and MPs that think that Brown is too leftwing and wants a harder line on say reform of public services than Brown will provide (and is simultaneously prepared to overlook whip-breaking outbreaks of unilateralism)? If there is I haven't met them. All that Clarke provoking a debate will do is measure how little support there is for an "ultra" position.
If it's about Brown's personal qualities then Clarke is hardly the alternative, youthful, fresh face to take on Cameron - and unlike Clarke's tenure at the Home Office, Brown has actually run the Treasury well.
I find the whole scrambling around for an anti-Brown candidate - I wouldn't dignify it with the term "Blairite" because most level-headed Blairites are backing Brown - laughable, and worse than that embarrassing - for the Party as a whole and my end of it in particular.
The worst thing is that because some of the people involved are close to Blair (presumably not Clarke since Blair sacked him) this risks tarnishing Blair's legacy - the self-proclaimed bearers of the flame will risk not getting nominated or doing so but getting a derisory vote and thereby sending out a signal that a) Blair himself was unpopular and b) the new premiership is a complete break with everything achieved over the last ten years.
The "anyone-but-Brown" campaign is the politics of the strategically stupid. Actually it isn't even political - it's about personalities. And politicians who can't rise above their personality differences are doomed to look divisive and petty.