Gordon Brown rallies support for his IMF bid

Cameron is powerless to veto his old rival’s appointment.

Gordon Brown had started to campaign to become the next head of the IMF even before Dominique Strauss-Kahn's career imploded on Sunday. His article in the current edition of Newsweek (written before DSK's downfall), is a transparent job application:

The IMF showed a few months ago that if the world worked together, up to 50 million new jobs could be created – millions of them in Europe and America – and 100 million people could be taken out of poverty. This November, at the next G20 summit, under the leadership of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama, we have the chance to take control of the huge and historic changes confronting us. It is not our fate to be at the mercy of financial chaos, decline and recession: there is an alternative. Securing it will not be easy, but, as I have said before, it is in the space between the possible and the perfect that campaigners for justice must always be.

Today's Financial Times reports that Brown has told friends that he still has a chance of winning the top job and that "he's not taking no for an answer". So, is Brown worth a flutter?

As a European, he is eligible for the post (by tradition, the head of the World Bank is an American, while the head of the IMF is a European), and although David Cameron is free to state his opposition to Brown's appointment, he is powerless to veto it. In addition, the former PM can point to the fact that he sat on the IMF policy committe for ten years and that his rescue of the UK economy was imitated across the world.

But, as things stands, he's unlikely to get the nod. Should the IMF appoint another European, it is most likely to opt for Christine Lagarde, the politically astute French finance minister, who would be the first woman to hold the post.

Alternatively, as France has held the top job for 26 of the past 33 years, the job could go to Germany's Axel Weber, who resigned as president of the Bundesbank in February and has the backing of Angela Merkel. Then there is possibility that the IMF will break with history and appoint a non-European. On either count, Brown is not the man to beat.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Jeremy Corbyn challenged by Labour MPs to sack Ken Livingstone from defence review

Former mayor of London criticised at PLP meeting over comments on 7 July bombings. 

After Jeremy Corbyn's decision to give Labour MPs a free vote over air strikes in Syria, tonight's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting was less fractious than it could have been. But one grandee was still moved to declare that the "ferocity" of the attacks on the leader made it the most "uplifting" he had attended.

Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, told the meeting: "We cannot unite the party if the leader's office is determined to divide us." Several MPs said afterwards that many of those who shared Corbyn's opposition to air strikes believed he had mishandled the process by appealing to MPs over the heads of the shadow cabinet and then to members. David Winnick declared that those who favoured military action faced a "shakedown" and deselection by Momentum activists. "It is completely unacceptable. They are a party within a party," he said of the Corbyn-aligned group. The "huge applause" for Hilary Benn, who favours intervention, far outweighed that for the leader, I'm told. 

There was also loud agreement when Jack Dromey condemned Ken Livingstone for blaming Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq for the 7 July 2005 bombings. Along with Angela Smith MP, Dromey demanded that Livingstone be sacked as the co-chair of Labour's defence review. Significantly, Benn said aftewards that he agreed with every word Dromey had said. Corbyn's office has previously said that it is up to the NEC, not the leader, whether the former London mayor holds the position. In reference to 7 July, an aide repeated Corbyn's statement that he preferred to "remember the brilliant words Ken used after 7/7". 

As on previous occasions, MPs complained that the leader failed to answer the questions that were put to him. A shadow minister told me that he "dodged" one on whether he believed the UK should end air strikes against Isis in Iraq. In reference to Syria, a Corbyn aide said afterwards that "There was significant support for the leader. There was a wide debate, with people speaking on both sides of the arguments." After David Cameron's decision to call a vote on air strikes for Wednesday, leaving only a day for debate, the number of Labour MPs backing intervention is likely to fall. One shadow minister told me that as few as 40-50 may back the government, though most expect the total to be closer to the original figure of 99. 

At the end of another remarkable day in Labour's history, a Corbyn aide concluded: "It was always going to be a bumpy ride when you have a leader who was elected by a large number outside parliament but whose support in the PLP is quite limited. There are a small number who find it hard to come to terms with that result."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.