Today has been an extraordinary day in British Politics. In July 1962 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan organised a major Cabinet reshuffle known as the ‘the night of long knives’ (after the nazi purge of the brown shirts). Eight Ministers were sacked in one go.
Today the knives have been directed at the prime minister. Less than 24 hours after criticising James Purnell for his resignation Caroline Flint added hers to the growing list of ministerial resignations. Her resignation became public knowledge whilst Brown was in mid press conference insisting that he would continue to lead the country and the party and though neither “arrogant” nor “complacent” believed himself to be the best person for the job. Whilst resolute Brown’s assertions were reminiscent of Thatcher’s insistence at a Paris press briefing in 1990 that she would stand in a second ballot for the Tory leadership. She didn’t.
When the European results heap more humiliation on Labour on Sunday the heat will be turned up another notch. Next week like so many before it will be a long one for Labour and for Brown.