Brown must step down this summer, says Labour donor

PM who 'seems to slip on every banana skin' should give new leader time to settle in before next election
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A Labour donor and leading constituency chairman last night called on Gordon Brown to stand down as leader and enable an "orderly transition" to a new leader to fight the next election.

Peter Carpenter, a member of the party's Thousand Club, said the Prime Minister needed to use his summer holiday to "come to the conclusion that he is part of the problem rather than part of the solution".

Mr Carpenter, who has donated more than £33,000 to the party since the last election and is also chairman of Putney Labour Party, cast doubt on Labour's ability to raise funds with Mr Brown at the helm. He described the Prime Minister as a poor communicator who "seems to slip on every banana skin that's about".

The move suggests that, besides the complaints by "usual suspect" MPs after the Norwich North by-election last month, there is a growing revolt among Labour grassroots and the donor community.

There were other constituency chairmen and donors who felt the same way and would speak out in the run up to Labour's party conference in Brighton next month, Mr Carpenter said.

The remarks follow an intervention last week by Peter Slowe, the chairman of the Labour Finance and Industry Group, that Mr Brown should step aside and allow Peter Mandelson to take over.

In an interview, also last week, Lord Mandelson failed to rule out stepping in as leader – even though this would mean the Business Secretary leaving the House of Lords and becoming an MP again.

Mr Carpenter, 61, told The Independent on Sunday it would be "too complicated" for Lord Mandelson to become leader, despite a proposed rule change allowing life peers to quit the upper chamber. But there were "two or three" good candidates who could take over, he said, including Alan Johnson, Ed Miliband or David Miliband.

Putney is a marginal constituency and was taken by the Conservatives in 2005. Mr Brown's continued leadership made it even more unlikely that Labour could take it back, the constituency chairman said. "It is going to be very difficult to raise funds under Gordon's leadership," Mr Carpenter added. "I personally have my doubts about Gordon Brown. He was an excellent chancellor, but the mistake with chancellors is they are never any good as prime ministers. He has handled the credit crunch very well, that is his strength. But he does have a communication problem. He cannot do non-financial policy. He seems to slip on every banana skin that's about.

"Talking to people, I am not alone in holding the view that it would be better for Gordon if he came to the conclusion that he is part of the problem rather than part of the solution."

Echoing the phrase that Mr Brown used to press Tony Blair to hand over power, he added: "We should have an orderly transition that could be done reasonably rapidly within the party rules. I just think that it's a credibility issue as far as Brown is concerned."

In a veiled reference to Lord Mandelson's favourite choice of jumper, Mr Carpenter went on: "I am sure that the men in suits, or as I say in the Labour Party the men in red pullovers, will be whispering in Mr Brown's ear."

Dr Slowe said last week: "Mandelson is the only one with clout, intellect and charisma in the Labour ranks who could realistically take on the Tories and win at a general election."

It emerged yesterday that Mr Brown was furious that Lord Mandelson revealed the premier would be prepared to take part in a televised debate with David Cameron, a move which was set to be announced at party conference.

According to politicalbetting.com, last Christmas Lord Mandelson was 200-1 to be the next Labour leader, but Paddy Power is now offering 16-1.

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