BBC NewsAndrew Marr Show


Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 11:10 UK

We're facing total disaster

On Sunday 07 June Andrew Marr interviewed

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Former Minister says Labour must change leader and direction.


former Labour Minister Nick Raynsford MP
former Labour Minister Nick Raynsford MP

Well the consensus was that the Prime Minister bought himself time with the reshuffle, but how much?

Following last week's resignations from the government, he's going to have some very discontented and possibly some very outspoken opponents on the back benches, but are there enough unhappy Labour MPs and are they sufficiently organised to force Gordon Brown to stand aside?

I'm joined by one of his critics, the former Labour Minister Nick Raynsford. Thank you for coming in, Mr Raynsford.

Now you were always known in the past as a Loyalist figure.

A difficult moment to speak out now, I suppose.

Why have you felt impelled to do so?


Well like quite a large number of my colleagues, I have been appalled by the consequences of the recent meltdown in the party's standing, by the very, very poor showing in the European elections, and by the prospect of an even worse showing in the…


(over) In the European elections.


…in the European elections tonight. The county elections were disastrous. Now what I fear is if things continue in the present vein, if we don't make a change we will end up with a disastrous general election, reducing the Labour party to an ineffective and very small opposition - as we were in the 1980s - and that would be disastrous not just for the Labour party but for the country as a whole.


Down to a hundred seats kind of territory?


I mean what we've seen in recent years is the consequences of governments winning very large majorities and oppositions ending up powerless, and that is not good for government. And in 1983, going back to that election, we had at that stage Michael Foot as the Party Leader. There was a sense in the party we had to pull together, we had to be loyal. And it was an understandable instinct, but the result was a disastrous election defeat which then left us powerless for 14 years. I do not want to see the Labour party getting into that position again next year.


The cabinet level plotters muffed it. Surely the same is going to happen with the back benchers; you're not going to get enough names, are you?


Well I don't know because I'm speaking myself …I have spoken to a relatively small number of colleagues and obviously to members of my own party, but I am not part of any organised conspiracy. I am speaking because I believe it is the right thing to say at a time when the Labour party is facing a very, very serious electoral meltdown which could have profound consequences for the future of the party and the future of the country.


But Mr Brown seems determined to stay. He comes back to Labour back benchers and says, "Fine, I'll walk out. I'll walk straight to Buckingham Palace and call an election", and at that point your colleagues, all of you, will back off him.


The problem is that we are in a situation of crisis management in which measures are taken for short-term political advantage rather than for long-term economic recovery and, above all, long-term political recovery. And that is the danger at the moment. We saw the measures the Prime Minister took to shore his position up with a cabinet reshuffle, but it's not really made a difference. And today's papers are full of stories of all the problems and the continuing unhappiness, and that unhappiness is very, very real and isn't going to go away.


It's not enough not to want Gordon Brown there. You have to want somebody else there instead. Do you have a candidate? Who would you like to see there?


I believe there are a number of possible candidates and I'm not going to name any individual at this stage. But I do think at the moment if you're looking at a situation of total disaster facing us, that it is not good enough to say more of the same. We have to be radical. We have to think of ways in which we can re-engage with the electorate, re-engage with the British people because there is a very good story to tell about what Labour has achieved and what Labour can achieve. And if we don't engage and convince people that we are a serious party with a capacity to win a general election, then I'm afraid the consequences will be dire.


The newspapers are writing up tomorrow's meeting of Labour MPs as being the crucial moment. Is it?


I think it will be a very important moment. I don't think there's a single crucial moment. We've seen over the last week a whole series of events all indicating the profound unhappiness of very many MPs and indeed many party members, and I'm afraid if we don't take the right decision now that mood of unhappiness will continue. We will have a long, lingering, downward decline towards what I see at the moment as almost inevitable electoral defeat next year. That would be disastrous.


Nick Raynsford, thank you very much indeed.


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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