Simple answer: no. But neither do I think should she be underestimated.
Westminster seems to be rife with speculation that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is lining herself up to replace Gordon Brown. The rumour mill is in full swing.
She is certainly popular with activists and party members. She got a good reception in my own constituency, Islington, when she addressed members during the Deputy Leadership contest. But then you might say you would expect that in a place like Islington North. She has been around a long time, has good name recognition – compared to many of Labour’s front bench women – and is obviously very ambitious.
It was a surprise to me that she won the Deputy Leadership election but this probably goes to show how hard she works and how well liked she is with party members and the unions. She has certainly fought her own personal battles with colleagues over policy and I suppose this means she is something of a survivor.
But I think Harriet (for all her qualities) would be a stretch as leader. I just don’t see it.
I don’t think other Labour MPs would vote for her and the Right of the Party would simply not allow it. It would lead to a mass civil war. I also think there are stronger characters.
However, it is impossible to predict what will happen when and if Gordon Brown goes. In fact it is really too early to speculate. Who knows what the circumstances will be like in a year’s time or eighteen months? Everything is possible.
But for now, the Prime Minister is not going anywhere this side of a General Election. At the moment he is the best person to do the job.
And anyway, speculation like this isn’t really helpful. Is Labour really going to replace its leader in the middle of the worst economic recession in seventy years? No.
We should stop our naval gazing and get on with sorting out the economy. The public are the priority. Labour needs to remember this and so do those who are angling for positions now.
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