Gordon Brown, too little, too late

Quite an interesting “what-if” story in the Guardian today – what if Gordon Brown had decided to fall on his sword at the start of the election campaign in early April, instead of after he lost the election and the removalist vans were queued up outside Number 10?

As Patrick Wintour reports, it mightn’t have been all that far away from becoming reality:

Gordon Brown drafted a speech on the eve of the general election campaign setting out plans to stand down within a year of the poll, but was persuaded by senior ministers not to go ahead.

At a meeting on the eve of the election, his proposal to announce his plan to stand down was supported by David Muir, his director of political strategy and chief polling adviser. But Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander argued against the idea. One adviser, present at the meeting where Brown’s plan was discussed, told the Guardian: “Gordon was under no illusions about his popularity, or the degree to which he was a barrier to Labour’s re-election.”

I think Balls, Mandelson and Alexander were right – but what would have happened if the Prime Minister had done the sensible thing and decided to make way for David Miliband in April 2009? It is difficult to believe that we would now have a Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government in power, that is for certain. With a Labour pledge to reform Britain’s electoral system and clean up politics on the table and Miliband at the helm, with a year to build his stature, things could have been so much different.

Now he has a long road ahead.