Monday, 22 September 2008
A respite for Gordon
MANCHESTER - I've been up to the Labour conference for a night to speak at an SMF fringe meeting on higher education last night. There is still the sort of buzz to conference that one has experienced over many years, despite the dismal opinion polls. And there is no doubt that Gordon has had a respite as a result of this week's economic crisis. But there is also a real sense that the Prime Minister is on probation, with many MPs awaiting the results of the Glenrothes by-election, likely to be held in early November. One side-effect of last week's events has been the loss of David Cairns and Frank Roy to running the by-election campaign; by common consent Cairns ran a good campaign in the last by-election, though there was an inevitability to the SNP victory. Fellow Labour blogger Tom Watson now seems set to be the de-facto campaign manager in Glenrothes; a lot hangs on the result there. The likelihood is that if Labour loses in Glenrothes, the pressure will be on the Prime Minister again, and that it will be far more challenging then. But for now he has a temporary reprieve and a chance to show his mettle, not only in tomorrow's speech but in his activities over the next month.