Is the Compass pointing Gordon Brown to the exit?

Gordon Brown may face yet more discussion about his leadership in the next few weeks...

The political thinktank Compass may be about to deal Gordon Brown a knock out blow to try and unseat him as Labour Leader.

Generally the rule would appear to be that if there is an ‘r’ in the month then there is talk of a coup against the Prime Minister, but this time The Guardian would have us believe that this is a prospect not to be ignored.

David Miliband’s decision not to decamp to Europe might also be a factor in the thought process that perhaps things are not as bad as they might be and perhaps, with a quick game of musical chairs in Downing Street, Labour might be able to stand a chance at the election.

The Guardian argues that; ‘A dialogue has begun within Compass and some central figures argue that other candidates such as home secretary Alan Johnson and foreign secretary David Miliband may support centre-left policies that the group wants Labour to back.’

A spokesman for Compass confirmed that a majority of the management committee of the thinktank thought Gordon Brown should go before the election, to give the party a better chance of success when the election comes.

The timetable, being discussed, is that a leadership contest would follow the pre-budget report with a new leader being in place by early January.

Like all the other putative leadership contests it seems clear that it will probably fizzle out, but the fact that the moderately loyal Compass is moving against the Prime Minister, when it resisted moves in the summer, may be significant.


Alan Johnson knows it’s not just the class of the drug that matters…


Alan Johnson knows that class matters in drugs and politics

The sacking of David Nutt has caused sensational headlines, media frenzy and middle class scoffing.  Dr Nutt’s advice to the government, that cannabis was not as harmful as other Class B drugs and should be downgraded, is reasonable, but just because he says so does not mean the Government is duty bound to take his advice.

Liberal Democrat members, and voters, are generally people who have received a higher quality education, come from professional backgrounds and are generally, what Alan Johnson would call, middle class.

As such they speak, and think, like middle class people, and on drugs policy they tend to be, unsurprisingly liberal, seeking the decriminalisation of activities that they seem to be relatively harmless.

Importantly this is one they, themselves, have almost certainly indulged in.

All this seems very reasonable.

But, with respect to Liberal Democrats, Alan Johnson is not speaking for middle class people, or to the people who vote Liberal Democrat; he is speaking to his constituency.

Alan Johnson knows that drugs policy is a totemic issue, and one that people are more concerned about in less leafy suburbs.  These are areas that see the detrimental social impacts of drugs, of whatever class, and lump them together as being a negative effect on their area.

These are areas in which Liberal Democrats are campaigning hard to unseat sitting Labour MPs, and are areas that are more receptive to a tough stance on drugs.

By his sacking of Dr Nutt he has, however unsubtly, raised awareness tha the Government is tougher than their Liberal Democrat, and modern Conservative, opponents.

The failure of the Conservatives to be quite as vocal as the Liberal Democrats on this subject might have something to do with this article, about David Cameron,  in today’s Times.