I have recently got home to North London from speaking at a meeting of Lewisham East Labour Party. The meeting was fixed months ago and at that time there was no indication that the political scene would be quite so volatile, so the topic I had originally been asked to speak on – “the outlook for the London Council elections in 2010” – was hardly relevant. Instead, I talked about the events of the last few weeks, leading up to today’s reshuffle and the implications of the local election results emerging since last night.
The discussion was lively and the prevailing message was that the disunity amongst members of the Parliamentary Labour Party must not continue. Party members were divided on what they wanted to happen next, but all were clear that the crisis around the Leadership must be resolved within days.
Some commentators are tonight, of course, saying that following the reshuffle the Leadership crisis is over. I am not so sure. The European election votes have yet to be counted and it will be critical what the mood is when MPs return to Westminster on Monday and, in particular, what happens at the meeting that evening of the Parliamentary Labour Party (at which Gordon Brown will be speaking). I wouldn’t like to predict how the next 72 hours will play out, but what I am clear about is that – whatever else happens – Lewisham East Labour Party members are right: the lack of unity must not be allowed to go on beyond the next few days.