No, but for a very brief moment in Sept 2008 I was uncertain
then in April 2009 we have the Damian McBride business- good grief...
and the row about sorting out MPs salaries and expenses...
and Hazel Blears!
In May we have the question of the Gurkhas
and the Parliamantary Allowances cockup
In June the resignations....
The media and opposition claim government has ceased - in fact it goes on regardless
June 8th - The failed rebellion will start again because of the local govt and EU elections..
September 26th 2009....  The Party Conference
November - the Sun acts as predicted
Jan 6th 2010 - Hoon and Hewitt panic
But the Government stays firm
The End and Milibandia
Blimey, it's Ed. Didn't he do well!

SEPTEMBER 10th 2008
This morning I saw the beginning of the end for Labour. Harriet Harman decided to give an example of what she judged to be an
important example of persistent inequality that had to be reversed in British society.

In the past, she tells us, women expected to live longer than men. Now, she tells us, a rich man expects to live longer than a poor woman.

It is not Gordon Brown who will bring this government to its knees. It will be aberrations such as the election to significant office of a woman as irredeemably thick, catastrophically ignorant and incapable of formulating and expressing any logical thought as Harriet Harman. [that was very rude but I make it a rule not to erase remarks I write in these diaries, even if I regret them - See October 5th 2008 below. Furthermore, as the banking crisis has evolved I have to admit Harman has made more sense than most people. I have to accept that the remarks on which I judged her were apparently not representative of her intelligence. This is the first time since 2002 in all the files on this web site I must hold my hand up and say I made a wrong call - but for pity's sake, what was she talking about?]

Meanwhile Gordon is handling things very well. It is extraordinary when we have a PM who has taken so many good decisions and continues to take them on important matters is criticised for a few cockups that in long run are completely trivial and which were substantially corrected. Most of his critics are completely clueless. [Note for the reader: I am not looking forward to the end of the labour government nor is it inevitable, but the symptoms need to be dealt with if this is not to be the start of it]

SEPTEMBER 12th 2008
Now we have Siobhain McDonagh [] calling for a Labour leadership election. This is a woman who has done some effective arguing in the past to get some things done [I suppose the same could be said for H.Harman, but her confused rambling above exasperates]. In this case I think McDonagh probably doesn't know what she doesn't know. The Rumsfeldian 'unknown unknowns' are usually the reason for people proposing seriously bad ideas. Paradoxically, these ideas sometimes have to come to fruition to move things on in ways unexpected by the proposer. This well-meaning airhead has just admitted on radio that, although she has not decided whether or not to stand for election herself as the leader of the Labour Party, she might not necessarily be the best for the job. But it is clear she thinks she could do better than Gordon because although she thinks "he's a really good man", the problem, she tells us, is: "it's a really difficult job!"

Wow! She ought to meet up with Sarah Palin, they would get on so well, I feel, with this cutting edge, new wave thinking.

SEPTEMBER 13th 2008
Now there are others following McDonagh's lead. They know as much about Gordon Brown's job as they do about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, but there you go. In Iran, the man and woman in the street is turning on their useless leader Ahmadinejad only now that the price of food has gone up, which he had nothing much to do with. They think his foreign policy stinks too of course but they were prepared to let that ride while they could still eat well. Here, Gordon Brown is the subject of intense unpopularity because of problems which, even if he had seen them coming in great detail, he would have ben prevented from taking.any action to prevent by a combination of the public, the media, business and free world economic forces. Leave the man alone for pity's sake. He's been given a hard enough task as it is.

SEPTEMBER 20th 2008
By now, a modicum of sense is permeating the public mood and that of the Labour Party. Harman in particular has gone public in her support for the PM. Unfortunately there are many who will now demand or expect a humdinger of a rousing speech from Gordon at the part conference. I would advise against it, personally. A calm briefing would be more in order though unfortunately, since the conference is a public event and politics a competitive art, it is not a brilliant idea to discuss the finer points of either party or UK national strategy in the presence of a global audience. I guess the usual formula will apply to a significant extent, but I would like to see powerful contributions from the rest of the cabinet as well as a good summary from the PM.

So far the only thing that has struck me as really awful was a You-Tube Video which was shown at the conference showing people talking about what they wanted from a Labour government. It was the most crappy production imaginable, with typical sound editing and musical background for morons. Conference did NOT enjoy it (the presentation style was seriously insulting to their intelligence and that of most You-Tube viewers) and when it was over half a dozen people applauded for a few seconds before giving up when they realised they were alone. How is it possible to employ such losers and hope to win elections?

Then we had Ed Miliband talking about universities and how young people without what he called 'the networking opportunties' could not go there as they thought it was 'not for them'. Instead of talking about networking opportunities he should realise that the teaching of reading, writing, listening, speaking and counting is what these young people need. Never mind about networking, train the teachers and allow them to run disciplined classes. That is the only way to a fairer society.

After Ed Miliband we had a Questions and Answers session devoted to the economy with a panel of the PM, Chancellor, Industry Secretary, Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper (Treasury sec).. It kicked off with an address by the PM explaining the current situation. He did this well though he had difficulty winding up without repeating himself, There were then various questions which were quite well fielded with answers that made sense. The PM looked relaxed, and he managed to explain to the conference some of the work he has been doing internationally to stabilise the international financial situation. There is no doubt that to change PM at this time would be an absurdity and to change this government for a Tory one would be at best meaningless and at worst a disaster. On the other hand I think Gordon's claim that he was in some way responsible for the oil price coming down recently was a bit outrageous!

One thing is certain, a high degree of international coordination will be required to stabilise the global economy. Gordon Brown is aware of the problems and the possibilities. There is certainly evidence of the classical play of Hubris, Nemesis and Catharsis, and it will be difficult for him even now to balance self-confidence and leadership with what will be seen by some as over-confidence and overruling interference, but when the opinion polls are skewed by idiotic Labour supporters blaming him for the price of oil it must be tempting not to claim the credit when it comes down.

SEPTEMBER 22nd 2008
I detect some spirit rising in the cabinet to fight back against the dismal mutterings of the few, while recognising the results of the opinion polls. Neil Kinnock and John Prescott rightly analysed the position of Charles Clarke as 'sad' - that about sums it up. Miliband and others told Martha Kearney where to get off on today's World at One. Geoff Hoon asnwered some more intelligent questions from Andrew Neil on 'Hard Talk' and I have to say that was good interviewing from Andrew, giving Hoon time to reply. As for Gordon he remains in good shape and good humour. As I hinted on September 12th above, the absurd suggestions of McDonagh and co. have had the very reverse outcome to the one she advocated and intended. It has woken up the realists and prodded some to take the gloves off when dealing with the media. Good stuff!

When it comes to Gordon Brown's major speech he will have in my view a lot of ammunition in is locker. The charge that he did not see what was coming and may have had a hand in bringing it about will be countered by the evident truth that international agreement was required on all the measures that could have been taken and he was amongst the leading figures in world economic power to advocate this. It did actually take the collapse of the American mortgage market to bring American politicians to reality, so absurd were their Rumsfeldian dreams of liberty where 'stuff happens' and that's OK, all part of life's rich tapestry. Brown is also free of left-wing dogmatism that would drive him to the other extreme. We are faced with problems here of biblical proportions and Gordon is the right man in the right place at the right time. .

SEPTEMBER 23rd 2008
The PM's Speech
After a rather boring and ritualistic start (brightened admittedly by the effective and snappy introduction by Sarah Brown) Gordon did get to talking sensibly about policy and how it related to the real state of affairs. At once he seemed master of the script and in talking about a 'new settlement' he was actually convincing. The message he was aiming to get over was, clearly, that this crisis was an opportunity. I have to agree. The biggest irony is that it is taking the collapse of the old settlement, in the United States, a settlement that Gordon had to work with and gain the respect of all those who work in, that gives him now the chance to take the lead in ideas that he has espoused for a long time in respect of global finance. These will be critical as the effects of climate change accelerate - and accelerate they will, I can tell you.

There are also some policiy announcements on the domestic front which I go along with. I am closing this log at 15:05 before the end of this speech as it has gone OK after a very average first few minutes. Job done. The usual standing ovation will follow.

Summary at 10:15 pm - The speech was perfect for the conference. Unfortunately it will not affect the public opinion polls as too many people haven't the slightest idea of what was important in the speech and what was just dressing to convince labour dawdlers and opponents that he was in charge. They have little idea of the realities of global finance or global economics and how the mastery of these as well as the domestic treasury holds the key to the future. So do not expect the polls to show a Labour lead tomorrow or the next days. The real gain of this conference will be to allow the government to get on with the job.

Tonight on Newsnight we had Paxman interviewing Geoff Hoon. The contrast between this and Hoon being interviewed by Andrew Neil yesterday was an eye-opener. Neil asked hard, intelligent questions and got interesting answers. Paxman asked silly questions and got patient answers but due to the Paxman's zero level understanding of all economics and most politics, it was not an interesting exercise. Paxman's facial expressions were supposedly meant to express his understanding of the answers, as such they did achieve some sort of purpose.

SEPTEMBER 24th 2008
Today we had Ed Balls, balling on and on about everything and nothing. How every child and every person can do everything all the time and everybody should go to university. He loves his own voice. While it is possible to agree with him on the ineffectuality of most Conservative governments, at least they didn't inflict this hogwash on us. My children went to university, took at look at it and left almost immediately to get on with their lives and proper jobs. They had been taught to read and write and speak and listen and behave and that gave them all the start they needed. Their education is a lifelong project.  If what Balls meant is that every child should have the chance to go to  university on the basis of competitive entry exams, regardless of their background, then he should give them all a proper primary and basic education.

Iain Gray, on the other hand, leader of the Scottish Labour party, is a great speaker and had a lot to say. All of his contribution was interesting, relevant and factual, so the aspirational side of it made some sense. More like this and Labour can stay in business and on target.

Unbelievable! In an attempt to counter Gordon Brown's ' time for a novice' jibe, Cameron is pretending along with some media commentators that it referred to Miliband. In the past, UK Prime Ministers have left the economics to their chancellors and if, a decade or so from now, Miliband became PM, he might well do the same. But Gordon Brown was not referring to his Foreign Secretary, who is not even an outside chance to become PM in the next few years. He was referring to Cameron, a man who the British Public is just capable, if not woken up, to elect as PM with George Osborne in the Treasury. Fortunately they should wake up. Cameron remains in his weird dreams.

OCTOBER 4th 2008
Gordon Brown's first cabinet reshuffle. Excellent - that's all I have to say.

OCTOBER 5th 2008
I have just been listening to Peter Day (a usually sensible man) telling Harriet Harman she has not been radical or strident enough in forcing through new policies to get more women in the board-room. Harman resisted him and said what he recommended was unwise. I am moved to modify my opinion of Harman in some respects. The boardroom of any particular company should contain the people best suited to the job. I can imagine some companies with few if any men in the board-room at all and that would be quite appropriate. Legislation of the sort he recommended would be an appallingly stupid idea. I cannot imagine what Day has going on in his head.

NOVEMBER 23 2008
The good handling of the UK and global banking, insurance and credit problems has been covered elsewhere on this site. The PM has done well all the way through. Even Charles Clarke has had to just 'get over it'.

Ex-critic backs Brown amid turmoil

Sunday, November 23 07:15 am

Press Assoc.

Charles Clarke moved to bury the hatchet with Gordon Brown, acknowledging the Prime Minister had done "really well" over the past two months. Skip related content

The Blairite former home secretary voiced concern in the summer that Labour was "destined to disaster" under Mr Brown, then under attack from a section of ministers and backbenchers.

But Mr Clarke said that the premier had demonstrated "genuine economic and political leadership at a time when it was both desperately needed and difficult to do".

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday and Observer newspapers, he said Labour could now win the next general election.

"I'm not well known for being one of Gordon's biggest fans, but I do think that since the Labour Party conference he's done really well in meeting the challenges of the world financial and economic crisis," he said.

His comments pave the way for a second major rapprochement for Mr Brown after his old foe Peter (now Lord) Mandelson joined the Cabinet as Business Secretary last month.

They suggest the Prime Minister could finally be moving Labour on from the divisions between Blairites and Brownites which have dogged the party for more than a decade.

Mr Clarke said there remained a "political debate about the past", but added: "In the present Gordon has earned the right to support from across the political and business spectrum."

He went on: "It's been a real surprise to me but, to be fair, Gordon's economic self-confidence has made him more decisive on the political front.

"Winning the general election, particularly in the marginal seats in the South East, remains a really tough call but Labour's obviously back in the race and can do it."

But let us not forget that what is about to hit us is not just a sticky patch in our domestic economy. This is global and we need to export and have a vibrant tourist economy spending here and a busy services sector providing for a global demand.
Four out of five workers fear they will lose their jobs as recession looms, while most struggle on their current salary, according to new research.

FEBRUARY 13th 2009
Today, Gordon Brown was quizzed at length by the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons on his role during the collapse of the UK banks and the measures the government has taken and is planning. He came through well.

FEBRUARY 14th 2009
Unfortunately the number of people who actually watched all of the above session is a very small proportion of the electorate. The following report is therefore not surprising. The normally sensible Kenneth Clark accuses the PM of making a big mistake in allowing the Lloyds-HBOS takeover. Er... what do you think he should have done Ken? It was the action most people agreed with at the time and in hindsight still looks like the best in the national interest. Very rough on Lloyds shareholders I admit and they feel very aggrieved with Lloyds management, but an error at the time down to Gordon Brown? I think not.

Breaking News

PM Misery: Poll Rating Nosedives

SkyNews Sky News

A new poll shows Gordon Brown lagging badly behind the Conservatives, with support for Labour slumping seven points to just 25%.

MARCH 3rd 2009

I hear Gordon Brown has just finished a really great speech to the US Congress. For some reason commentators are still asking if he should have apologised for the credit, crunch, crash and global slump. This is rather a tough one.  He has said already he didn't see it coming, because if he claims he did people would expect even more that he was responsible through negligeance for allowing it to happen. The truth is a great many people saw the very distinct possibility of it coming and he was one of them, but there was nothing government could do in a country such as ours or a global community such as had developed and that, said John (with apologies to A.A.M), is that.

The world of banking has been run by by institutions that have evolved over many years and regulators had very, very limited powers over what risks they could take or what models they used to assess them. Those who saw the inevitable were scientists more than bankers, Bankers of the 'old school' who also saw it for different reasons were not considered to be authorities or in positions of power. Brown had to manage the government of a nation amongst nations as best he could. He crashed along with the rest of them. Had he tried to pull the plug earlier, it could have caused the crash we now have and no apology on earth would have satisified those now baying for blood.

APRIL 14th 2009
This (the Damina McBride affair) is the most unbelieveable bollocks. It is the most damaging thing ever to occur to this and maybe any government. Are we really to believe that Gordon Brown has to have people like this on his staff? Is the scum level now so high in the media and the political hangers on who live on and off the dealings and wheelings that the Prime Minister of the UK has to employ arseholes to deal with them on their own level?  It does seem to explain some of the rubbish we have been fed in the newspapers over the past decade which at times has led to the resignation of some quite competent ministers.

I find it only too likely that Brown knew nothing of this, but if he accepted the 'culture' surrounding Downing Street had sunk to this level then I wash my hands of him. I rather liked Alastair Campbell, I don't see his image here.

The last thing I would want to see is the useless David Cameron and his lot in government, he hasn't even the guts to say here and now he would repeal the anti-hunting act and does not even know why he should; but let us restrict politics to policies. Why invent untrue stories about these people when the truth about their ignorance is quite enough to laugh them out of the running?

And why was McBride given time and the chance to resign? And why was he there. Do we REALLY need people like that walking the streets?

BBC Report:
Adviser Damian McBride resigned after unfounded claims about Mr Cameron and other senior figures were revealed.

The government has defended its response to the e-mails scandal, saying the prime minister had "taken action".

Mr McBride stood down on Saturday, after it was revealed that he had sent e-mails in January to former government spin doctor Derek Draper, containing allegations about Mr Cameron, shadow chancellor George Osborne and Tory MP Nadine Dorries among others.

APRIL 6th 2009
The PM has made a full apology for the Damian McBride behaviour and taken full responsibility. He was right to do so.

APRIL 28th 2009
For the last week or two Gordon Brown has been under attack from all sides because he decided that the sorting out of the business of MPs salaries ad expenses, which would take till the end of the year and would be handled independently from Parliament, [ ] needed an interim solution.
Knowing that he would never get the parties to agree on even an interim solution, he constructed one himself and announced that Parliament would have to vote on it.

In all of this, the PM was totally correct and right, but it drove the leaders of both the other parties and many of the senior members of his own party up the wall. They saw they were being bounced into action and they resented it. One ingredient of Gordon's solution was to link allowances to attendance. "Its as if we were paying MPs to turn up and and do the job!" snorted Cameron, apparently oblivious that these are the terms on which all the people who make the country run have been bound by all their lives.

In his own party they are upset that he did not consult and inform them before making an announcement in a YouTube clip on the Web about his plan for this. Yet they approve of him taking the initiative to get things moving. The fact is this is a hideously complex problem of which te vociferous public have little or no understanding. Margaret Thatcher decided years ago that putting up MP's salaries was an unpopular move so she gave them liberal expense accounts to cover their staff, travel and accommodation. If not abused, these are very sensible way of dealing with the problem. Unfortunately a few MPs have milked them to their utmost value, and others have earned resentment from a public now suffering the credit crunch because of the state funding of their London homes.

It seems so obvious to the public that MPs have their snout in the trough, but in reality all that is needed is transparency on the expenses and the ownership of the secondary homes reverting to the state when the MPs retire or fail to be re-elected. The complexities in getting the details worked out and the extent to which they should be restrospective do however pose a very great problem. MPs have very different circumstances. Some are men, some women. Some have families, some do not. Some have constituencies far from Westminster, some do not. Some have honestly seen their expense allowances as compensation for a comparatively low salary and extremely long working and travelling hours, others have other jobs and income.

The fact is Gordon Brown had every reason to suggest an interim solution to satisfy the public but he only had two choices - to give the public a tough lecture and shut them up, or to tell the MPs to sort themselves out pronto with an interim solution. He chose to schmooze the public and talk tough to parliament and his own party. Since the other course would have had its own dire consequences, it could be said that in the long run both cause him trouble and both will be got over in time, but the ant-Gordon press are making the most of it.

In my view, the British public are capable of voting 'for change' at the next election and Brown, if he tries smiling, could lose it. Having never voted in my life for any party, on the grounds that I have never been against any of them, I may well vote this time as the current Tory bunch are not my idea of an acceptable government.

MAY 2nd 2009
Hysteria against Brown is rising amongst some notorious political prima donnas. I trust he will ignore it all and concentrate on the job of pulling the country through the recession and coordinating the global financial picture on which recovery depends. If people do not follow his lead things could turn quite nasty. If they do, this is the opportunity to rebuild on a sustainable ecological basis. Nevertheless, if the Labour Party depends on its electoral support on people with the historical and political understanding of Frank Skinner, lovable nitwit though he is, they will not get enough votes at the next election to prevent a hung parliament. Let us hope Brown can get enough done before hand.

MAY 3rd 2009
"You Tube if you want to, but there is no substitute for knocking on doors" - Hazel Blears in an article in a daily newspaper.

What did she mean? Clearly not that Gordon Brown could or should go knocking on doors, but that party members and workers should do more to explain Labour's policies. The problem here is that many (most?) of them can't do that because they haven't the mental equipment to understand the policies, let alone explain them to others. A large propertion of Labour supporters fall into the Frank Skinner level of political understanding - indeed this simpleton comedian's popularity explains quite easily the problem Gordon Brown has. Many of the Tory supporters who hate Brown understand his policies and their soundness very well indeed. Most of Brown's top level colleagues do too. But unless they can explain it to the Frank Skinners of this world they cannot hope to turn out the vote in sufficient numbers either bye-elections or a general election. This has caused those who imagine Labour without Brown to play to the public gallery; but in blaming 'the party' they implicitly blame their leader. Personally I think he should ignore all this - it is the usual wind and piss. It is up to Labour MPs to get their brains into gear and win the respect of their constituents for both themselves and their party and the PM. If they can't do that, then the country can do without them and their party.

MAY 09th 2009
am an admirer of Joanna Lumley, but she is definitely not, to use a phrase invented in fun by Frank Muir for another lady, 'The Thinking Man's Crumpet'. She readily admits she knows nothing about politics. It is a speciality of many of those with the gift of the gab to be great campaigners on subjects where they have personal experience of grievances.  Understanding the whole context is a handicap. It was always said of Rab Butler that he could never lead a cause or a party as he understood only too well the case on all sides and the compromises that had to be made. So Lumley is a great campaigner.

The Gurkhas never had the right of UK residence. It was not part of their contract, and as men of honour and men of their word they know that all too well. UK residence was never envisaged and never expected. Those who glibly repeat "Anyone prepared to die for Britain has theright to live in Britain" are, like all those who repeat mantra, mottos and phrases, not thinking. Many people all over the world have fought and died as supporters and allies of Britain and millions of Britons have died fighting for and liberating other countries. The Gurkhas did not fight for the right to live in Britain. They joined the service of the British Army because they believed in its attempt at beneficial rule and the bringing of law and order through the use, when appropriate, of disciplined force to empower a social contract and defeat tryranny. They also joined to get the training and the money. Their own country approved of this and benefited from it too when they retired to their homeland as respected elders.

With the advent of globalisation and modern medicine, the case has arisen for ensuring that those who have been injured in the course of service for the British armed forces should receive the suport that can be offered by UK medical facilities, on a level commensurate with British soldiers. The present government had therefore engaged in allowing a number of those who had served since a certain date to make a case for UK residence. This led fairly quickly to difficulties in deciding who should be eligible.

Enter Lumley, and today on the BBC's Any Answers a listener was given the time to seriously suggest Lumley should not only become a politician but would make a good Prime Minister. Yes, he was serious.

I think, on balance, this should allow our current PM to relax. Cameron, Lumley, Clegg... his job is looking safe. He could even bring his party through to win again as long as the next time he goes on YouTube he gives it to them straight. Just don't smile, Gordon. As for the Gurkhas, a proper solution can probably be worked out without involving the lovely Joanna and taking into account instead all the proper and relevant conditions.

MAY 21st 2009
The Gurkhas are now sorted, Lumley is happy, I am happy with the result but not with the means by which it was achieved. It would be delightful to administer 'justice' to all, and the mess we would be in if we tried would be colossal. Human life is far more complex than that and part of a much more significant process. The good part of what has happened has been the dialogue between impassioned supporters and ministers and the PM. How excellent that we can have such a dialogue. The bad part is the commentary on this by the media, degrading it, trivialising it, reducing it to matters of 'loss of face' and the sort of barriers to rational poilitics that we used to make jokes about in some eastern countries. The plain fact is the government and its civil service advisers had to come up with an anwers to satisfy the will of parliament and the public as fired up by a brilliant campaign by Lumley. As I have said, if we applied that to all cases of injustice we would find there is no justice of any sort on the face of the earth. Life is not only about justice, though we love to administer it. I am sad I will not be here for another 50 years to see the lessons that are about to be learned. Unfortunately I have to go.

For the Parliamentary Allowances fiasco, see this link.

JUNE 5th 2009
Now we have resignations, by Blears (probably inevitable) and Hutton (not sure why, perhaps to avoid the media interfering with personal life? A big loss). And James Purnell (for all the wrong reasons in my book).

Here is a view similar to my own, from an article in The Independent:

June 5, 2009

Stephen Foley: Ditching Brown looks crazy from here

American business leaders see a prime minister completely on top of his subject

How odd it looks, from this side of the Atlantic, that the British might be about to plunge a fatal knife into their prime minister.

Just a few weeks ago, Gordon Brown was corralling the rest of the world's leaders in the desperately complicated but desperately needed effort to re-shape global finance. Even today, the conversation here is about how Brown masterfully steered the UK away from catastrophe during last autumn's financial panic, in contrast to the confusion and interminable policy switches of two US administrations.

While the world is just tiptoeing out of this crisis, it looks simply perverse to ditch a leader who took his country unburned through that fire, and who is most engaged in the effort to prevent such a fire from igniting again.

Brown's alleged sluggish response to an expenses scandal that has not touched him personally and is only a few weeks old, his apparent inability to "connect" to the British people on a personal level – these things seem trivial compared to the great issues or failings that should bring down world leaders. It looks from here as if Britain is in the grip of a political anarchy.

It sounds from the headlines of the past few days that Brown would struggle to run the management committee of a church fete, let alone a cabinet and a major world government. But that was not what business and political leaders here saw when he was in New York and Washington in March, laying the groundwork for the G20 economic summit meeting.

Then we saw a man totally on top of his subject, capable of steering not just the UK economy but also the global financial system through the treacherous waters that must be crossed in the next few years. A breakfast audience of Wall Street bigwigs and political grandees expressed surprise not just at the depth of his analysis of what has gone so wrong with global capitalism, but with the number and sophistication of his ideas for reforming the international financial architecture.

There was no sign of the hesitations and sluggishness of which Brown stands accused back in the UK, where every last move of his now seems to be interpreted through that unfair prism.

The prime minister's second engagement that day – a discussion on "a new multilateralism for the 21st century" at New York University – was his own idea, marking him as a rare politician without "an allergy to complexity", according to his gushing host, John Sexton, the university's Chancellor. This is stuff that is easy to deride. If Brown is so much happier in the wonkosphere, why doesn't he go run Edinburgh University's economics department? More seriously, perhaps his talents would be better suited to the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, where he can try to put his ideas into action.

But this is to miss the point. The critical economic and financial challenges facing Britain will be tackled precisely in this arena of international co-operation and in the global markets. At a moment when the country seems poised to ditch him, his expertise seems more invaluable than ever.

The G20 meeting was more than the usual talkfest. Economists here were impressed that it produced real money to stimulate global trade at what was then the darkest hour of the recession. It was not the "new Bretton Woods" that Brown dreamed about, but it kept up the pressure for the international cooperation needed if we are ever to end the imbalances in the global economy that underlie the financial meltdown and which haven't gone away. Similarly, if bankers are hemmed in by one country's rules, they will go elsewhere to make their mischief. This is stuff that cannot be done alone, and which must be done if the financial crisis is not to repeat and repeat in the coming years. With the immediate catastrophe averted, the pressure for this vital action will dissipate without leaders such as Brown.

It wasn't just Downing Street's spin machine that manufactured the notion that Brown was leading the world through the financial crisis last autumn. When the Bush administration was careening about trying to find a free-market solution to the implosion of free markets, Brown poured money into the worst-hit banks. Economists marvelled at the quick and clear-headedness of the British response, and the US followed within weeks. In the flavour-of-the-month phrase in US political debate, lawmakers insist that they "get it" and that their opponents "don't get it". On economic and financial matters, Brown simply "gets it".

Removing him is not just perverse. It looks a little dangerous, frankly. For a frenzied few minutes yesterday lunchtime, currency traders were seized by the notion that Brown was about to pre-empt his ouster by announcing his resignation, and the rumour sent the pound plunging. When Downing Street's response – "nonsense" – was flashed up on screens, things returned to normal. It's not that currency traders love Brown, per se. Partly, they just love exciting rumours. But mainly they hate uncertainty.

Financial markets matter – not a one-day wow in the currency market, of course, but over the long term. For all Western governments, which have had to empty the public purse to prop up the banking system and stimulate economic activity, financial markets matter a great deal. Britain, which could have the biggest budget deficit compared to the size of its economy next year and a government debt rising to its highest levels since the Second World War, retaining the confidence of financial markets is key to surviving the next decade without a disaster. If foreign investors won't buy British government debt, we won't be talking about cuts around the edges for public spending. There will have to be a wholesale re-think about what the government can provide in public services. It will be a very nasty decade.

There are very few politicians in the UK who are better placed than Gordon Brown to keep the confidence of financial markets. Certainly none of the candidates for prime minister in any party can match him.

The US has just ditched a dumb leader for a smart one. The UK looks from here as if it might be about to do the opposite. []

JUNE 08 2009
Is it possible to be an electoral liability and also by far the best person to be Prime Minister in these 'interesting times'. Yes, is the answer, if your party cannot unite around you. However, if you do not have to call an election, the party has time to get itself sorted out. Those who say an election would be a 'cleansing process' and the right thing for the moment are clearly suffering from attention deficit disorder, as the Tories have no policies, the Liberals are unpopular and the public are not going to be given anything new and meaningful to vote on or a better leader to implement it.

The recent UK voting on Europe and local Government has been influenced by the expenses scandal (see my latest entry at allowances), by an argument over the part privatisation of Royal Mail, to which neither Tories or Labour have yet found an alternative, and the opportunistics attacks of the ambitious. It is true that since Gordon Brown has successfully shaped the first stage of a possible recovery from the recession, we could now stagger through without him; but removing the controls from a team and leader that, despite some past mistakes and because of them, has a reasonable understanding of how the world works and passing them to a bunch who have not given the smallestindication of any ability other than being able to sell fridges to eskimos, would be crazy. Unfortunately the loudmouthed opinion makers in politics and the media are showing every sign of insanity.

SEPTEMBER 26th 2009
The Labour Party annual Conference is now in session in Brighton. I would be the last to maintain that either Peter Mandelson or Gordon Brown are attractive speakers. For that matter, I can't think of many politicians these days who are. But the thought of Cameron and his lot running the country is absurd, so I welcome the rallying of some political will and particularly the acceptance by Gordon Brown to debate policies in the run up to the next election face-to-face with Cameron.

Much of the rhetoric from minor speakers at this conference is complete rubbish. Some of the accusations of bad faith flung at the Tories are worse than any from Old Labour 40 or 50 years ago. If they were to stick to accusations that the Tory leadership is uneducated and inexperienced it would make more sense, but since some of the speakers are too, they are reduced to name-calling. None of that will win any votes from the TV audience or impress most of conference. As to whether the Party 'loves' Peter Mandelson, who cares? We could do with him in the next government whoever wins

The media claim polls tell them if Brown stood down, Labour could win the election. The reverse is the case. If Brown stood down, absurd though it would be the Conservatives actually could win. God help us.

I don't know why I go on buying The Independent, Johann Hari's piece on The Queen Mother reveals he is an ill man with serious psychological problems and no idea of realities that go beyond his own emotional dis-ease.

SEPTEMBER 29th 2009
Gordon Brown's speech today was a speech to the Party, not to the country, to get its self together and prepare to regain the initiative. Of course Murdoch will bale out, he can't afford to back anyone but the favourite - he has never done anything else in his life - its the easiest way to win if your bet actually affects the real odds.

Brown reeled off a string of policy implementations that he and his party could take the credit for. Not difficult, given the lack of domestic initiatives from the previous Tory governments. The greates irony was perhaps in Education. Put at the front by Tony Blair, Labour did not get it right any more that the Tories, who had been hopeless. They just made different mistakes, while many of he state schools were driven into the ground by the National Curriculum on the one hand or on the other hand useless teachers or, worse, teachers with a political agenda that put learning on the back burner and emotional sociology on the front.

The fact remains that Brown was perfectly correct in holding that barrinng a few inconsequential mistakes he called it right on all the big issues time and again, while the Tories called it wrong or had nothing to say.

Personally I think it will be a good thing to have Murdoch on the other side now. He is the man who has had his day, his support could be the thing to finally sink Cameron.

NOVEMBER 10th 2009
The Sun newspaper's pathetic attempt to make Gordon Brown look inept by ecouraging a grieving mother to complain about his handwriting and spelling (B's eyesight is none too good) is just what I expected. This newspaper that now epitomises the dregs of journalism serving the whims of the deluded Oz magnate is on the predictable road to oblivion, though it may take ages and it will no doubt survive in some form - after all the Daily Express is still here! But at least it may rally sufficient disgust to prevent it having any influence in the next election and from having a Tory government that hasn't even the nous to repeal the fox-hunting bill. The joke is that the Sun thinks its readers respect it. Maybe half of them do, the rest are just curious or need a laugh, when not disgusted.

JANUARY 6th 2010
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt (usually intelligent) decided without consulting anyone else to call for a secret ballot to unite the Labour Party behind Brown, or not behind Brown. They meant well, but really, guys, coming up with a good idea without selling it first or thinking it through....
If I were Brown, I might take this up. But he doesn't have to as it will die.

FEBRUARY 24th 2010
Over the last 6 weeks, every imaginable accusation has been flung at the PM and his cabinet from being useless to conspiratorial, that the PM is a bully, that he is at war with his chancellor etc.etc.  So far they have all backfired on the accusers. If this keeps up, Labour could win the election hands down. No matter how mistaken some policies of this government may have turned out, to have any truck with the other two parties having looked at their methods and supporters is frankly distateful. That nice Mr Hurd (sorry, Lord Hurd) was on Hard Talk yesterday and talked some good sense, nicely, but he is of another era. Modern Tories are mostly anti-European and out of touch with reality. As for the ridiculous Rawnsley he is just trying to sell his book - it might be useful to Al Qaida I suppose to convince its trainees to get tough with the Brits because they are bullies...can't see much of a public elsewhere.

FEBRUARY 26th 2010
It seems UK is certainly now growing again as an economy, however slowly. Meanwhile the media are obsessed with The Chancellor's remark that when he decided some time ago to point out that we were heading into the worst recession for 60 years that 'The forces of hell were unleashed' against him. He must now be regretting what was meant to be a humourous exaggeration. Of course at that time anybody with more thah 2 working brain cells knew he was right, what shocked some was that he came out and said it. However he was quite right to have done so. As chancellor, it was his duty when the facts were clear and the global situation beyond doubt, to be the first, not the last to put words to the reality and address it publicly for the UK public and others to hear. It is possible that Gordon Brown voiced the opinion, overheard by his minions, that it was perhaps not the moment or the language to use at that precise moment, for purely tactical reasons. It is possible that his aides jumped up and down for a bit. But why this should be thought of any consequence or evidence of a battle between Brown and Darling is beyond reason.

AUGUST 31st 2010
As we now know, and as covered elsewhere on this site, Labour failed to get a majority art the election and a coalition was eventually formed between Conservatives and Liberals to form a majority and a government. Tony Blair, who kept quiet during Gordon Brown's time as PM, has completed his memoirs.

In extracts released to the Guardian in advance of publication, Mr Blair said Mr Brown's time as prime minister "was never going to work" partly because the former chancellor had "zero emotional intelligence".

Personally I was happy to do without the 'emotional intelligence' and was happy to see substance, albeit with some mistakes. I think we should all be very grateful that Brown was in charge when the credit bubble exploded. The fact is Brown was very far from a disaster. He handled a lot of very difficult people (the UK public and American politicians to name a few) very well indeed.

Far worse for the Labour Party is the ridiculous emergence of Ed Miliband as a challenger to his brother for the leadership, not on the grounds of any policy differences but clearly, again, on what one of them sees as his 'emotional intelligence'. With David Miliband we had a chance to stay with the substance and his experience. Ed should,  if he has a following, thrown it behind his brother. Seriously bad judgment.

SEPTEMBER 25th 2010
Well, I have to eat my words here for the second time only on this web site, both in this small file! The electoral method used by the Labour Party is a sound one, it was evidently honestly administered, and Ed Miliband won by a very small majority, due to his courage and outgoing personality. The word from the Unite union is that this is the end of 'New Labour'. In one way, it will be, but probably not in the way whoever it was (I didn't hear) is thinking. There will be some changes in the party's policies, no doubt, but the biggest change that has to come in the immediate future is not from government but from the unions. They are going to be more important players in this decade than they have been in the past one. They have been sidelined by government and their own potential members because they screwed up, big time, in the past. They are screwing up now, but they have a chance to make sense and play a vital role. To do that they need to be able to negotiate properly and handle the facts as as they come to light. The strike weapon belongs to the past century. In this century it is suicidal.

It is not without significance that the method of attack by backward looking people in quite a few countries these days is suicide. It is the same mentality. Negotiations require two sides who are rational and make no assumptions as to their own rights, other than those that can be granted and sustained in a possible, rational future. That goes for management as much as employees. In a democracy, history has shown that transparency is required at some stage in such negotiations. It makes no sense for negotiations to take place in secret if at the end one side accuses the other of dishonesty. The true details of such negotiations, if they reach such an impasse in future, must be exposed to the public so they can make a judgment. In the past, both management and unions have resisted. They will not put their cards on the table because they are playing a game on behalf of their members, shareholders or customers against competitors within or outside the acknowledeged scenario. That has got to come to an end in this century. We are up against a new reality. Games are over, chaps, it is time to grow up.

SEPTEMBER 27th 2010
It has to be said that Ed Miliband's first address to the Labour Conference was extremely good. He may well be the right man for the job. This may mean his older brother takes a year or two off so as not to cramp Ed's style, but he'll be back for sure when needed. Or he might stay. But I think the best move might be to take a break making it clear he'll be back later. Of course the professional commentators will say that's impossible but, as we know, they just comment based on past experience and the future always surprises them.

SEPTEMBER 29th 2010
David Miliband took the right decision for all the right reasons. As far as the UK public is concerned this is to give his brother a clear run in the job. As far as he is concerned it is the right life, family and career decision. As far as the Labour Part is concerned he remains as an MP and a researcher and a source of ideas. There really is no down-side to this, and he has 50 years ahead in which to return to the front bench if required. Once again the interview with Nick Robinson showed in stark relief the measure of these two men. One could take the charitable view that Robinson deliberately plays a juvenile twit so as to represent some of the listeners and viewers but since I have never witnessed him play any other role we have, eventually, to accept it as his limit. We have had good value from Andrew Marr in his new roles but as his replacement there are surely others the BBC could use to play devil's advocate without appearing to be totally engulfed in the mentality of the pre-hominid era.

Since writing the above two entries, I have unusually to revise my opinion on two matters.
1. I can't see Ed Miliband as an effective leader of anything.
2. Nick Robinson has redeemed himself, by apparently growing up and by his excellent series on past British Prime Ministers. His rather juvenile cynicism seems to have died and his understanding of the political realities has emerged as a result.
3. David Cameron, although still capable of some comments that do not express even what he means or thinks, even when what he thinks is dubious, has risen considerably in my estimation. He is still a tribal animal, but I guess this is necessary to do the job.

SEPTEMBER 27th 2010
A year has passed. It is the Labour Part Conference. Ed Milliband speaks..... but it is only to say what is so obvious in most cases that one struggles to find the need to have a conference to listen to it.

The Labour leader claimed Britain was crying out for a new kind of society in which the right people - responsible "grafters" - are properly rewarded.

He attacked "predatory asset-strippers" and the "fast-buck" culture.

And he vowed to fight for "a new bargain in our economy so reward is linked with effort".

What he failed to get over was how he would achieve this any sooner than the present government.