Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 2 November 2009

Alan Johnson's leadership chances are now finished

He always claimed that he didn't want it and wasn't up to it. Maybe we should have listened to him more keenly as the debacle of the last few days has shown Alan Johnson in a very poor light.

He sacked the head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Professor David Nutt on Friday which then garnered a lot of negative coverage. Professor Nutt did not go quietly and has appeared on the media numerous times and is also using the opportunity to get his message across with articles like this in The Times today about drugs harm. On top of that, more ACMD members have resigned over the weekend and more look set to this week. They have an annual meeting next week and there is speculation that any remaining at that point might resign en masse. There are also rumours that other government scientific advisers outside of the ACMD are very unhappy. The story is still top on the BBC News site after 3 days.

In addition to all of this, Alan Johnson appeared on Sky News yesterday morning and under fairly mild questioning from Adam Boulton he became visibly angry. His face was red and he was shouting and using very confrontation language. If you missed it you can judge for yourself on the embedded clip at the bottom of this post.

I also think it is quite telling that the audience on Radio 4's Any Question on Friday (still available here until Saturday on iPlayer) when asked by Jonathan Dimbleby whether they agreed with Johnson's decision did not have a single person raise their hand. I know it's possibly not a representative sample but it is indicative I think of a strong feeling across the country against what he has done. Quite a feat for someone who was supposed to have the common touch.

I think any ambitions Mr Johnson might have privately harboured about leading his party and the country at some point have now been sunk. The saddest thing is that this is a mess entirely his own making.

Mike Smithson on Political Betting also thinks this is the end of the road for AJ4PM.


Kalvis Jansons said...

Will Number 10 allow this petition:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to sack the Home Secretary.

A Home Secretary who does not respect scientific evidence does not respect the truth, and is therefore unfit for his office.

My submissions seem to get special treatment since "resign".

Anthony Burns said...

The more he reiterates his argument, the feebler it sounds ...

The saddest part (of many) is that Alan Johnson isn't even remotely ashamed of the concept of using scientific advice solely to "send a message" to the British public, and ignoring said advice when it doesn't support the scary content of the message. The impression given is that the Labour goverment considers its voters as a bunch of naughty children who will, of course, be smoking cannabis like there's no tomorrow unless they are told unequivocally that the Bogeyman will get them if they don't behave.

Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown apparently feel that there is still room in modern goverment for the "benign", paternalistic lie. I'm only grateful that neither of them are flaunting any strong religious convictions, or it would only be a matter of time before they start pressurising their advisers to produce scientific "evidence" that condoms are ineffective and the only way to stop AIDS is to recriminalise homosexuality ...

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

The Home Office is not known as a career graveyard for nothing.

Was Johnson's appointment the first astute move by Brown in a very long while? Recall when Johnson was appointed, many were expecting his next job, and soon, would be prime minister. lol.

Charles M said...

I agree with your comments entirely. This is a complete own goal for Johnson and is likely to damage him for some time. He has had the opportunity several times to move against the prime minister. He has not done so - it appears he will be remembered in history as a nearly man.
The interesting part of this is there is obviously a feeling that Brown + friends have been playing politics with this and fiddling around with the classification of certain drugs purely to aim for headlines in the Daily Mail and not for scientific reasons

Kalvis Jansons said...

Well, my petition was rejected! I wonder why?

The problem with the Number 10 e-petition site is that it controls the topics that you are allowed to petition about, and I do not think it should. In the days of paper petitions, we could petition freely, and this is an option that we have largely lost. I know that there are other petition sites, but it would be more useful if the government site was the focus, and for its petitions to be unfiltered.