This blog has repeatedly called for tactical voting to ensure that the Tories do not form a majority government after the election. The recent narrowing of the opinion polls has pointed to a hung parliament, while optimists hope that Labour can pull victory from the jaws of defeat. The joker in pack has been the Blairites, including Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, or as they are also known the Bitterites, who hate Gordon Brown more than they hate the Tories. They are, afterall, Tories in Labour clothes.
I had always expected the Blairites to put the boot in during the election campaign. They may yet do this. They have form, not least in 1983 when they openly attacked the Labour Manifesto even though many were standing for election on that very platform.
What has come as a surprise, though why it has shows my innocence, are the disclosures about cash for influence. The video footage of former Blairite Minister, Byers, has brought condemnation from his former colleagues, and there may be more to come in tomorrow’s Dispatches programme.
What Gordon Brown should do is withdraw the whip from them for the duration of this Parliament while the Party undertakes an investigation into their actions that clearly bring the Party into disrepute. The Labour Party has never hesitated doing so against the left, but will it, and Brown himself, have the courage to do it against the Blairite right? It would send a signal that Labour finds the alleged behaviour unacceptable.
But of course, Labour won’t do this, and Gordon Brown will at best remain silent, or at worst try to give the Bitterites some political cover. He thinks he needs them and that his personal prospects depend on their loyalty. They don’t and they won’t remain loyal. This will be another opportunity lost for Brown.