Monday, April 21, 2008

Ferrets in a sack fighting? Or is that Canaries refusing to sing?

Nick Robinson at the BBC - spot on sir...

Canaries, you no doubt recall, used to be taken down pits to detect noxious gases. If the miners' yellow long feathered friends so much as twitched, trouble lay ahead. If they fell off their perches and dropped to the bottom of their cage, the miners knew they were done for if they didn't get out fast.
The Labour Party now has its own canaries who work in a somewhat different way to those in the mines. To test the health of the party you look at how and whether they can survive together. The odd squabble and pulling out of feathers, means everything's OK. If, however, they peck each other to death, the party looks doomed.
Given the behaviour of Labour's canaries over the last few days, the party ought to be worried.
The canaries in question are:
The backbench MP who has described the 10p tax revolt as his party's "poll tax moment" - Ian Gibson.
The minister who's warned about the "indulgent nonsense" of "private briefings against the Labour leader" - Ed Balls.
And the former minister who, in today's Times, warns Balls that his actions "take us back to the days of faction fighting and party-within-a-party that were so damaging in the 1980s" - Charles Clarke.
Why do I pick out these three? Because, despite their differences, they can often be found together watching their favourite football team, Norwich City - known to its fans as the Canaries. I, for one, will be watching hard in the next few days to see whether they can bring themselves to behave as if they're on the same side.


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