In the years to come, 2008, I have no doubt, will be of major significance to the politics undergraduates of the future as they analyse and look at the premiership of Gordon Brown and where it all went wrong. In fact, it might even get worse and the study of this single year will become key to the demise of Labour after it swept to power in 1997.
It started in May with the loss of the London to the Conservatives, then followed up later that month by the destruction of the 7000 majority to Labour in Crewe and Nanwich, also to the Conservatives, and then on July 24th into the 25th, with a 22% swing to the Scottish Nationalist in one of the safest Labour seats in the country.
The question is what happens now? Gordon Brown is arguably a great asset to the Conservative Party, regicide is not a tradition in the Labour Party, or more correctly has not been in the past. Will they now turn on their man? Privately ministers are thinking about it, we know that, but will anyone wield the knife?
More correctly though, it is not who takes over that matters, but who is willing to take over and more than likely lose the next election. A change of leader, and consequentially a change of Prime Minister during a Parliament without a General Election is not unprecedented. However, doing it twice in the space of little more than a year would be.
If that happened then it would be very difficult for them to not call a General Election. It is unlikely that the public, let alone the media, would let them get away with it. The problem that faces Brown and Labour this morning is how much they take on the extrapolation of by-election results to the national scene.
As many will say, you cannot do straight forward extrapolation, but if you play fantasy politics, and use Scotland only, the Tories will have a majority. Add in the expected swing in England and it could imply complete wipe out for Labour for a very very long time. I imagine Brown is not going to have a good holiday, and will be stewing from now until the Labour Conference (assuming he can hold on).
They should have listened to John Hutton