Another thought struck me this morning: what if Gordon Brown already knows when he’s resigning?
We can safely assume that if he was to resign that the General Election countdown clock would start, with the dissolution of Parliament likely happening within a week of the announcement of the new Labour leader. So, what if Brown and his aides have worked backwards from a May 2010 election and pencilled in a date based on that?
Brown can then come back after the Christmas break and announce that he’s decided that ‘for the good of the party and the country’ he has realised that it would be best that he not lead the Labour Party into the next election. He will thus resign as Labour leader, but not as Prime Minister, to enable the Party to choose who should lead them into the election while he concentrates on saving the world, or whatever his speechwriters think will sound best there. The Labour Party NEC then agrees to hold a leadership election that will declare its result sometime around March 20th, and this time the party will ensure that they have a proper contested election, even if it’s going to end in the sort of result that makes John Smith vs Bryan Gould look like it was a close-run thing.
So, while Brown can get on with governing and lobbying Obama and Merkel for an international job of some description, Alan Johnson and whoever the agreed sacrificial lamb of the Left is get to tour the country, generating headlines and – perhaps more importantly – keeping David Cameron out of them. Around the end of March, the new Labour leader is announced/coronated and then Brown hotfoots it to the Palace, with the hope that they can get to the election before anyone notices how flaky the paint is over New New Labour (now with extra shiny Johnson Man Of The People Power).