In all likelihood, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be gone by June, probably after having led his Labour Party to a singularly humiliating defeat at the hands of David Cameron and the Conservative Party. However, recent events indicate that his exit may be even messier than originally thought.
In a rather stunning development earlier this month, two former Labour cabinet ministers recently called for the party to hold a referendum on Brown's leadership. Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt and former defence secretary Geoff Hoon co-signed a letter asking for the ballot in order to solidify Labour around a strong leader. Their plan fizzled easily, as they didn't have much support within the party, and the entire current cabinet has come out against the idea -- but they did get a little support from non-cabinet members of the Labour caucus.
Furthermore, for any Labour members to be calling for a leadership review just months before an election is an indication that something is seriously wrong. If they think it's worth the risk of plunging their party into a bloody leadership battle and then launching their shell-shocked new leader into an election campaign -- then the only conclusion one can draw is that Gordon Brown has become such a burden to his own base that even a political doomsday scenario seems more palatable.
This should be cautionary lesson for politicians here in the States. If Brown had been smart, he would have called an election immediately after taking over for Tony Blair. He might have lost, but he could have at least made a strong showing, salvaged his credibility, and showed some respect for British democracy. Instead, he looked at his mediocre poll numbers and decided to wait for them to go up before calling a vote. When they kept going down, he simply decided to hold onto power for as long as he legally could. Now, after several years of dealing with Brown's despotic malarkey, the voters are sick and tired of an unelected leader who is concerned only with holding power at all costs. Labour's poll numbers have collapsed, Brown is about to be thrown out on his ear, and his only consolation will be that he imploded in a blaze of egotistic glory unrivaled in British history.
Likewise, U.S. politicians need to remember that they will be held accountable if they thumb their nose at the people -- and that they will implode entirely if they thumb their nose at their own partisan supporters. Dede Scozzafava learned that the hard way, and Barack Obama is now drawing fire from both the public writ large (embodied by Scott Brown) and his hard-left base (embodied by Howard Dean) with regard to his crazy-quilt health care proposal.
Ultimately, the lesson here is that voters are smart enough to know when they're being hoodwinked -- and if we can learn anything from the tragedy of King Gordon the Arrogant, it is that hell hath no fury like an electorate scorned.