What Labour needs is direction. The single most important role of a leader is to provide a clear sense of the end destination. Labour is a crusade or it is nothing. But where is the crusade leading? Brown should step down. But the idea that his departure will magically transform Labour's fortunes is clearly nonsense. The last thing Labour needs now is a 'caretaker'. The whole movement needs to be rebuilt, with a commitment to radical political reform, a new approach to party activism and more plural approach to other political parties, including the greens and liberal democrats.
Jon Cruddas has written in the Sunday Mirror today, and his comments have been written up elsewhere as a statement that getting rid of Brown would be 'madness'. In fact, as you would expect from such a thoughtul figure, his message is much more nuanced than that. Here's part of what he wrote:
"In a way, it is a leadership question. But it is not about who leads us. It is about where they are leading us and why. The scandal over expenses means that reform is needed now...Everyone knows our Government is in trouble. Serious trouble. But to suggest that we’ll tackle those problems simply by chucking Gordon Brown overboard is madness."
Cruddas is right. The renewal of the progressive left will require a huge amount of time, thought and organisation. 'Simply' chucking out Brown will certainly not do the job. But whether Brown stays or goes, the renewal has to begin now.