UPDATE: Thursday 08:30: LabourList now has 20 emails from MPs rounding on Hoon and Hewitt. Some are very strong indeed:
The attempted move against Gordon Brown appears to be stalling badly as Labour MPs used a group email exchange to attack Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. Political Scrapbook (@psbook) had an initial leak and LabourList has more.
Barabra Follett said:
Dear Patricia and Geoff,
As someone who has known and worked closely with you both for over two decades, I am more disappointed than I can say by this unwise and totally uncalled for e-mail. I am also at a loss to know how people of your obvious intelligence, experience and achievement could possibly view it as helpful.
It fuels the speculation and uncertainty you purport to want to end and, worst of all, it betrays the very causes you have spent your lives fighting for. I do not know what led you to do this but I do know that in sending this e-mail you have lost my respect.
Christine McCafferty said:
I am frankly amazed that a former Government Chief Whip, has so little knowledge or understanding, of either the individual or collective view of the Parliamentary Labour Party, let alone the wider membership.
I hope you are satisfied that the media are now gleefully reporting that you have “wounded & crippled” the PM, at a time when we had the Tories on the back foot.
I am appalled by your egocentric agenda and lack of judgement, at this critical time.
Chris McCafferty MP
Jim Hood said:
Spiteful; Disloyal; Treacherous are but a few caveats that best describe the actions of “the gang of two” today. It was an act of treachery beyond comprehension; betrayal of the Labour Party, our Government and the causes we have fought for all our lives. I await an announcement of future memoirs from either or both.
Our history is littered with traitors, I have just added another two to my list
Jim Hood MP
David Clelland said:
I am less surprised at Patricia, who has always had considerably more confidence in her own opinions than everyone else, but I am amazed and disappointed that a former Chief Whip and someone who our party has been very kind to should damage Labour in this way. It also reveals a complete ignorance of the constitution and rules of the Party – drawn up for very good reasons – to think that the PLP could hold such a ballot in isolation from members and affiliates. At a time when there are rays of hope and Gordon had a particularly good day this represents an extremely damaging initiative that will not be understood or forgiven by those who rely on Labour.
John Robertson said:
You are spot on. These people have an agenda that does not include a Labour 4th term victory. I wonder what it is?
Joan Walley said:
And its those who depend on Labour for whom our colleagues have shown total disregard.
I cannot believe the arrogance and failure to understand that loyalty counts.
Joan Walley MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods said:
Dear Geoff and Patricia
I am writing to let you know that I completely agree with the many colleagues who have written to you to voice their anger and frustration at the action you have taken today.
As an MP standing in a marginal seat I have simply no idea how you thought making comments such as these about the Prime Minister could possibly help me or any other Labour MP standing for re-election.
Your timing is particularly unhelpful because, as Lynne Jones pointed out, we are now starting to get more positive news on the economy and it is important for all of us that the credit which is due for steering us through the recession is given to Labour and the PM. What we absolutely need to do is focus people’s minds on the different policy agendas between Labour and the Tories. It is important that our constituents know that Labour’s plans to tackle the deficit and build recovery are much better than anything the Tories have to offer. Your actions are an unnecessary distraction but I hope they are short-lived and that we can all get on with the job of defending Labour’s record and putting together a manifesto and campaign that will help us win the next election.
Martin Linton said:
Yes, David [Borrow], I agree too. I also think we should give the media a “period of silence” when they ring or text us for quotes. If the story’s got no legs, it won’t run.
Martin Salter said:
Dear Geoff and Patricia,
I have to say that I agree entirely with Lynne Jones about your ill-judged circular calling for a leadership ballot.
I also happen to feel that it is inappropriate, to say the least, for a former Chief Whip and a current member of the Board of British Telecom – who is standing down at the next election – to be advising hard-working and full-time Labour MPs on who would be best placed to secure a Labour victory and their future employment prospects! The fact that you have chosen to broadcast your views to the media rather than in the confines of a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party speaks volumes about your true intentions.
Lynne Jones said:
As one of the few Labour MPs who did not nominate Gordon Brown as Leader and am known not to have been a great fan of his, I detect no deep division amongst colleagues or in the wider Labour movement about his leadership at the present time.
I am therefore dismayed that you have given ‘legs’ to such a story given that the best prospects for Labour at the forthcoming election is to contrast the deft handling of the recession by Labour in Government with the disastrous consequences of the Tory approach in the 80s and 90s arising from the unemployment that followed.
Whatever criticisms I may have of Gordon as a Leader, there is no doubt in my mind that he can take considerable credit for the improving economic outlook. This is the narrative that we need to get across to the electorate and your actions jeopardise this.
I cannot believe that you had the best interest of the Labour Party at heart when you sent out this circular.
Tom Levitt said:
At a time when Britain is setting examples to the world on managing the economy and tackling climate change, four months before an election, it is highly damaging to rock the boat like this.
The email – which comes from two people I call friends – talks of ‘deep division’ within the PLP but this is not the case. There is deep frustration, as any governing party fighting a recession not of
our making, ten points behind in the polls, would suffer. But with no-one saying ‘Look at me, I could do a better job’ then what is the point of a vote?
Having been criticized two years ago for holding a poll with only one leadership contender it is bizarre to suggest that we now hold one with no candidates at all.
There is no appetite for a leadership election within the Party as a whole and it is irresponsible for a handful of MPs to suggest otherwise.
Gwynn Prosser said:
I can’t agree with your suggestion. I think what you are doing is wholly wrong, disloyal, damaging to the Party and bordering on treachery.
John Heppell said:
I can only imagine you have taken leave of your senses. God knows what harm you have caused with your indulgence. I am sure your view is not shared by the majority of the PLP or ordinary party members who you arrogantly assume should have no say in this process. I am sure there will be no appetite for your proposed distraction and it will disappear as quickly as your credibility.
Steve Pound said:
In my opinion the forming of a circular firing squad is never a good idea. You don’t just shoot yourself in the foot you wound the Party – and,more importantly, those who depend on Labour.
Andy Love said:
John [Heppell], I share your anger and frustration at the indulgence of our two colleagues and the distraction that it has caused. Whatever their motivation it is difficult to believe that they had the interests of the Labour Party uppermost in their minds. Now that we are into the New Year we should be fighting the Tories and not ourselves.
Diane Abbott said:
Dear Geoff I do not always agree with John Heppell. But I, also, can only assume that you have taken leave of your senses.
Steve Ladyman said:
John [Heppell] is right. As you know mine is the tightest of marginals but I’m still fighting and still hoping – but sometimes it’s like two steps forward and three back when ill timed calls of this nature are put in the public domain. Now is the time for fighting the Tories – not each other.
David Borrow said:
Thank you for your e-mail. I am very disappointed and I disagree with you in every detail. I do not believe that the Parliamentary Labour Party is divided over the question of leadership, other than by a very few malcontents. I did not expect you to have become one of them.
Any leadership ballot (whatever the result) would be seized upon with glee by our political enemies and be immensely damaging to the Labour Party and our prospects at the forthcoming election. I believe you and Patricia have misjudged the mood in the PLP and I feel there is no pressure for a ballet only months before the General Election.
I would suggest, for the best interests of the Labour Party and your Parliamentary colleagues, that you now provide us all with a period of silence until after the next election.
John Austin said:
Thanks David [Borrow]. I agree absolutely and am sure that the majority of the PLP do too.
Dai Harvard said:
Your disingenuous public assassination attempt on Gordon to me is not surprising but no less dull and better for that.
The public nature of your actions and the idea that any decision should be reserved to MP’s gives your game away.
The blank version of your email which was originally sent out by your office was the better version – you would have done us all a favour by sticking to it!
If you were so concerned about allowing Gordon to validate himself, or not, and make his leadership a settled issue why didn’t you or Patricia stand to promote an election, when you had the chance?
I don’t remember either of you arguing for such a thing at the time. When some of us argued that a contest and a vote to do that very thing was a good idea at the time you told us we were wrong.
I always thought that Gordon’s ‘political accommodations’ to try to ‘buy a peace’ with you and the others in your political gang rather than deal with the politics of the situation would not work – but that was his decision.
Perhaps you and those who support you feel it was his distribution of baubles from the patronage bag as part of that process that was wrong? Or was it that he took some baubles away when you thought he should have been more generous?
You are clearly ‘deeply divided’ from the Labour Party. As already semi-detached MP’s I suggest you take your overweening arrogance and contempt for the affiliates and membership of the Party in choosing our leader with you and do us the favour of a bit of ‘radio silence’ whilst you both pursue your ‘other challenges’.