In a matter of months, each of the leaders of the three mainstream parties have had, or are having, their leadership challenged from within their groups.
After the crushing defeat at the European Union elections, there was plenty of talk of rebellion amongst the Liberal Democrats, understandably not content with being wiped off the face of the political Earth. There were plots aplenty, and some big names were said to be involved in them – Vince Cable, for example, was accused of both plotting against his leader and also failing to stop rebellions from brewing. Mr. Cable and Mr. Clegg have both survived in this game, though it is not very likely that the Liberal Democrats will do well in the forthcoming election.
However, neither of the leaders of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party seem to be safe either. A few weeks ago it was reported by the right-wing press that Prime Minister Cameron’s leadership depends on a clean and clear Conservative victory at the Rochester and Strood by-election, which is just days away. If the Conservatives lose later this month, rumour has it that the Prime Minister will face a vote of no confidence. My contact in the party says there is no such thing afoot, and although I believe him, I doubt anyone would say outright, “Oh yes, we are rebelling against the Prime Minister. What would you like to know?”
Ed Miliband is probably the most in danger at the moment, with fresh and clear suggestions that Labour backbenchers are sick and tired with their leader. They want to replace him with someone who gives their party a good image, rather than drag it down further in the polls (I heard recently that Ed Miliband is more unpopular than Nick Clegg – that’s quite a feat). The right-wing tabloids are already making their suggestions as to who would replace him – Alan Johnson, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham are the Daily Mail’s reported favourites.
Unfortunately for some Labour Members of Parliament, it is too late for a vote of no confidence to happen – according to the rules, these things have to be decided at a party conference.
The only combatant that seems to be safe in this arena is Nigel Farage, of UKIP. It seems apparent that Mr. Farage is a different kind of politician – he can answer questions with honest answers, he admits defeat when he is defeated, and will sack members of his party who take unpleasant or immoral positions on controversial topics. You can’t help thinking, without Mr. Farage, would UKIP be as strong as it is?
However, despite the incompetence and unpopularity of the Prime Minister, his Deputy and the Leader of the Opposition, isn’t it counterproductive to be squabbling now? The next General Election is hardly ages away, and what better way to throw your chances of winning into the wind than for your party to be fighting itself rather than the others. Unless there is a hero in the ranks that can be found well before May, it would be cutting off the nose to spite the face. For now, everyone must convince the public why they should back their parties.