Gordon Brown out, Labor in?
British Prime Minister Gordon’s Brown offer today to step down is good news for those who hoped that Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats would form a coalition government with the Labor Party rather than with David Cameron’s Conservatives.
As I argued in my column this morning, Clegg would pay too high a price if he were seen as propping up Brown, a leader clearly rejected in last Thursday’s election. Now the way is open for a new government under new leadership.
Brown could be a difficult man, but he was a smart and effective leader, particularly in the midst of the economic crisis in 2008 and early 2009. He also cared more about people in the world’s poorest countries than did most other G-20 leaders. I hope he stays in public life – perhaps a new government could use him to help deal with the European economic mess created by Greece’s difficulties. But Brown has been under a lot of pressure from his own party to quit, and I suspect he does not want to be the main obstacle to Labor staying in power.
We’ll see how this all turns out, but Clegg may have been a cannier negotiator than many expected. While carrying on talks with Cameron over the possibility of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, he also kept his lines open to Labor. For a guy whose party did not meet the high expectations set by the polls of a few weeks ago, he seems to be playing his hand very well. He also has to be aware that many in his left-leaning party were horrified by the prospect of going into government with the Conservatives. But this bazaar is still is open and we await more news on who is willing to pay the price of power.
| May 10, 2010; 12:58 PM ET
Categories: Dionne | Tags: E.J. Dionne
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