22 September 2008


I was planning to get to Manchester for Labour conference but a mixture of work commitments, the utter hopelessness of Britain's railway system and my own incompetence means that I'm not going to make it.

Bah! But so far it seems that the comrades are making the best of a very bad job. Alistair Darling is never going to be the world's greatest orator, but his speech today (here) was a sober assessment of the current financial crisis and its implications, and I didn't disagree with much of it.

David Miliband (here) was rather hesitant and nervous but said all the right things about foreign policy – he made a credible, reasoned defence of the democratic left interventionist position – while managing to steer the fine line he had to between expressing loyalty to Gordon Brown and placing himself as the front-runner to succeed Brown if and when Brown's position becomes utterly hopeless.

For what it's worth, my own hunch, as it has been for some time, is that the shit looks very likely to hit the fan for Brown next spring as the polls remain as bad as they are and Labour is humiliated in the European and local elections – not before. But my old comrade Meghnad Desai demurs today in the Evening Standard, and he could be right.

I don't think, however, that Brown's speech tomorrow is really quite as make-or-break as most of the commentariat is claiming. It's certainly important, but it will be the key moment in his demise only if he really bombs, which right now doesn't seem too likely.

To sum it up in two hoary old journalistic cliches: this show looks as if it will run and run, but we shall see.

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