In his Observer column on Sunday, Andrew Rawnsley cautioned those who imagined that removal of Gordon Brown as leader would solve Labour's problems: "It really is a terrible delusion to think that everything can be blamed on just one man."
I entirely agree with Andrew. It's an illusion to think that everything can be blamed on just Gordon Brown: this is a team effort. Gordon Brown is a useless prime minister; but he has created a government in his own image. I've commented many, many times that outside the highest posts, the quality of minister under New Labour government has been generally low. This is true even if, allowing for the fact that every government will have its dud ministers, you discount the most obvious of those from the past 11 years: David Clark, Gavin Strang, Mo Mowlam, Chris Smith, Glenda Jackson, Angela Eagle, and so many others. The quality of the more durable ministers has been almost as bad: consider John Prescott, Harriet Harman and (as, ludicrously, Foreign Secretary) Margaret Beckett.
This is a party and a government that for more than a decade was carried by Tony Blair. Remove him from the domestic political scene and Labour is no longer even a credible prospect, let alone a dominant political force. It gives me no displeasure to point out that this was predictable, and was indeed predicted by commentators as politically diverse as Daniel Finkelstein and me. (See this article from last October by Daniel, in which he presciently remarks: "I didn’t vote for Tony Blair to be Prime Minister, but for those who did to walk away from him now is worse than a crime. It’s a mistake.")
There is much that can be said on this theme, but the clip below expresses it more briefly and eloquently than I can. (I found it from the Spectator Coffee House blog.) It's from last night's edition of Newsnight. Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is defending to Jeremy Paxman the Government's handling of the backbench rebellion over the 10p tax rate. It's not comfortable viewing, but if you watch it you will immediately see a governing party in deep trouble.