There are more than one, but this post will focus on this:
Why has it taken so long for a 'Gordon Must Go' bandwagon to get rolling?
I have a theory about this: It is that the media has a collective subconscious that works to ensure that there is always going to be an easy story to write for tomorrow's deadline. When Ken Livingstone first made it clear that he intended to run for London's mayoralty, for example, there was a unspoken collective decision made that this would be a good thing.
It would wipe the smile of Tony Blair's face for starters. At the time, this was a new and interesting possibility. And it would advance the trope that a generally friendly media was comfortable with:
New Labour are a good thing. They are very sensitive to the prejudices of newspaper proprietors, they are not making a mess of the economy, but even WE object slightly to being patronised in the way we are, and the stage management is getting a bit irksome.Thus 'spin' and 'control freakery' the first tentative punches to really land on the Blair project. The two bits of moany consensus-building that hacks could participate in without really annoying their bosses.
Ken Livingstone was a perfect vehicle for this. For over a year, he was completely soft-pedaled by the same hacks that monstered him a few years earlier. Red Ken, the honorary patron of Black Unemployed Anti-Vivisectionist Lesbian Anarchists Against The Bomb, the IRA apologist, the bug-eyed Marxist nutcase, became a cuddly, clubabble, lefty buffer. A reminder of when politics was about something, before all of this awful spin.
It was only when the blameless and reluctant Frank Dobson had been seen off and the mayorality was in the bag did the murmuring start again against Ken.
And Boris, I think, benefited from a similar conspiracy this time. Now, I know it sounds partisan, but I think that Ken genuinely has a grievance after the recent elections. He wuz robbed. On his watch, he got the Olympics here, pulled off a very successful implementation of a congestion charge, managed to secure massive investment in the Tube and finally got Crossrail off the starting blocks. Both Labour and the Tories supported the PPP that resulted in Metronet fleecing Londoners - surely the biggest failure of governance in the capital for decades? And who was the most vocal opponent to the original deal? Ken!
Did he get any credit for this? Did he hell. His many successes were ignored, and his numerous shortcomings were foregrounded. Boris' many weaknesses got the same treatment as Ken's virtues. Why?
Because newspapers have joined Project Cameron? Well, yes, partly.
Because newspapers want to give Labour a kick in the goolies? Yes, up to a point - but not overwhelmingly. The Murdoch press is STILL hedging it's bets and The Daily Mail hates Brown a lot less than it hated Blair.
But that collective subconscious knew that there was a general anti-Labour story, one that involved Cameron shaping up as a viable alternative by beating Labour on it's own manor, and it is a story that that could be rehearsed easily. But the main attraction of Boris is this: He is going to supply so much great copy for years to come. The strain was evident throughout the campaign. Every time the camera fell on Boris, you could see him struggling not to say 'cripes' or 'picanniny'. Not to offer some Auberon Waugh-ish general insult in the direction of a fairly blameless demographic somewhere, or to be caught in some clownish tableau that could be recycled again and again.
And how does this apply to Brown? Well, I think that there is no appetite on Grub Street for Labour infighting at the moment. Sure, Brown is getting stick on a number of fronts, and he deserves some of it. But there's not a nice easy story there yet.
There aren't any identifiable factions. There are no Hesseltine-esque pretenders in the wings that can polarise the audience nicely. If Brown is deposed, it won't be at the hands of an ideological nemesis. If anything, it will actually muddy a narrative that everyone has settled for considerably.
Labour may choose to replace Brown with a uniting figure (Straw) in which case, normal service will be renewed shortly (old out-of-touch Labour plutocracy -V- shiny new pretenders). Is this the reason that Straw is being touted so easily at the moment? I ask, because I've not met anyone who really believes that Straw would be offered a coronation, or that he could have the beating of Cameron any more than Brown has. Is Straw the candidate that will balls things up the least for the commentariat?
On the other hand, if Labour choose someone who can kick Cameron around the park a bit (the boy David), that would really balls things up for everyone. You won't be able to say anything that rings true on less than 150 words, and the next election could really go either way again.
It's odd, isn't it? I don't think that newspapers really like uncertainty, even though you'd think they'd love it. Could it be that they work overtime to avoid it? And is Brown going to lose his job despite the best efforts of the commentariat to focus on other things?