Although the Tory press seems determined to present Charlie Whelan and Ed Balls as heirs to the Loony Left crown, in reality these two men remain nothing more evil than the unpleasant bullies they have always been. Their alliance with bonkers Young Communist Kirsty MacNeill is one of convenience – a means to the end of making contact with Gordon Brown’s tympanic membrane.
However, the Unite/Dromey/Harman axis really is a hardline Leftist group modelled on the Stalinist Parties which dominated Eastern Europe after the Second World War. This lot are the direct descendants of those 1970s local councils obsessed with Muscovite syntax, fraternal greetings, and deliberately ruinous economics scattered by the onset of Margaret Thatcher after 1979. Anyone requiring further evidence of this should view the rant offered to the US media by a BA Unite organiser after landing in New York yesterday afternoon. It was pure unadulterated Ken Leninspart circa 1975.
The key to this barmy army’s success before (as opposed to after) the General Election is the unstable and thus highly receptive personality of the Prime Minister. Gordon Brown is searching desperately for evidence that he may yet defy his critics and emerge victorious next May. His recruitment of anyone and everyone in accord with this fantasy has put Scottish firebrand porg Kirsty MacNeill into a position of immense power, much to the dismay of Lord Mandelson.
If the press is to be believed, Ten Downing Street must be like a soccer ground half-time public convenience at the moment: rushing in and out of its famous front door, we are told, have been Whelan, Balls, Darling, Dromey, Purnell, Mervyn King, Tiger Woods and several European finance ministers. But a brief message from The Slog’s Tenmole confirmed that Mandy really was in there at some point after lunch yesterday. One must assume that the Business Minister wished to know what hymns the Prime Minister wanted at his political funeral. Certainly, the original Spinmeister must be wondering what it takes to fix Gordon’s brain firmly to the real world. I was informed last night, for instance, that Alistair Campbell told friends on Tuesday the thought of working on campaign strategy with both Mandelson and Whelan was too much even for him to contemplate.
Although in reality the two regimes appear very different, the parallels with Major’s last days are irresistible. Despite the cast of characters and economic circumstances being entirely unrelated, there is the same sense of frantic jostling, frenzied stabbing and enmity. The plotters referred to by John Major as ‘bastards’ (hardline Thatcherites) were of course against him, whereas the ancient tattered vestiges of Labour’s pre-Blair ignomy are goading Brown towards their lunatic vision of a far-Left Britain just waiting to declare itself. The feeling of inevitable disaster is strangely reminiscent of a divided Tory Party tearing itself limb from limb from 1995 onwards.Only this time, we are perhaps seven weeks away from a General Election.
Whether or not all the nonsense calms down remains to be seen. My own instinct is that this kind of multivariate rebellion only takes place when the Alpha-status of the Top Dog is severely in doubt. Gordon Brown may have survived several coup attempts, and numerous media attacks on his character. But the task ahead of the Prime Minister now – to stop a full-scale civil war and calm an increasingly doubtful nation – is surely beyond him.
As always of late, the only person who might restore order is Lord Mandelson. But with so many of his allies heading for retirement and pastures new, even the great fixer may find recovery impossible.