According to the Guardian Gordon Brown wanted to announce his resignation before the recent election.Â I’m glad that he didn’t.Â OK it might have got us a few more votes, maybe even a few more seats, but it was a disaster when Tony Blair did that – everything he did as PM after the 2005 election was overshadowed by speculation about exactly when he would go.The whole idea of GB being over-eager to quit is at odds with the media narrative of him desperately clinging on to power, which was a pretty nasty co-ordinated campaign to portray him as a ‘squatter’ in Downing Street, and unfair too.Â As many people have pointed out, he was obliged to remain as Prime Minister until all the various negotiations were done.
I was reminded of when I lost my seat in the Crawley council election in (I think) 2004.Â At the time I was deputy mayor and because of the way things work, until the new council met to elect a new mayor and deputy I had to continue doing that job for a few weeks, even though I wasn’t even a councillor.Â It was very strange and more than a little unpleasant.
Having taken a kicking at an election there is a natural inclination towards hiding away for a while and licking one’s wounds in private, but I still had to be prepared to go out on official engagements and smile for the photographers.Â I imagine Gordon’s position was like that, but many times worse – because of the greater responsibilities, the greater publicity, and his well-known difficulty with smiling.Â Fair play to him for sticking around when I’m sure he would have preferred to slip away.
What if he had resigned as PM on Friday 7th?Â Â The whole government would have had to follow him and there would have been great pressure on the Queen to invite somebody to form a government very quickly.Â She could have just asked Cameron straight away and he would have had to form a minority government.Â The Lib Dem leader famously can’t enter into a coalition without getting all sorts of agreements from his party and there would not have been the time for that.
Godon should be thanked for remaining as PM and not pilloried for it.Â Apart from anything,Â it did nothing for the public’s understanding of how our unwritten constitution works to have such lazy headlines as those in the Sun and Daily Mail.Â The same goes for all those digs about Brown being an ‘unelected Prime Minister’ – they just encouraged the belief that we do elect a PM at a general election.
Maybe that suits a lot of people though: if the public really understood how the system works there might be more pressure to really change it?
Which takes me full-circle to the original thought.Â Maybe Brown wasn’t as unelected as the papers suggested because of Blair’s statement about not serviing a full term.Â Because of that, when the public voted in 2005 it could be argued that if they thought they were voting for a PM they were doing so in the full knowledge that they were voting for an unspecified Labour PM?Â Just a thought.