FEBRUARY 17th 2006
It is time to shake the dust off this Gordon Brown corner now that the
media have started to discuss his suitability as the next PM. "The dour
Scot", he has been called. Gordon has had the good sense to know that
one of the greatest qualities a Chancellor of the Exchequer can have is
to talk as little as possible. That goes with the job, and its a job he
has taken very seriously. So, he miscalculated with the Pensions and
precipitated the crisis due to the stock market crash. That's because
none of his treasury advisors foresaw the stock market crash, and that
is because they are mainly economists. Economists may know nothing of
the science and technology that decides what happens next and so could
not see coming what was painfully obvious. Investors failed to realise
that being able to reach the whole world did not mean they could all be
winners. The market was finite, and furthermore demand has to be backed
by wealth, not just bodies. So he chose an option that was flawed for
reasons of timing. That was his only really big mistake and he was not
alone in making it. he remains the best man to take on the job in a
world he has now experienced in some depth and width. I hope the public
will have the sense to understand this.
Now we have to deal with those who say it is wrong for Gordon Brown to
succeed to the leadership without a challenge. How right they are. Just
what do they think the last few years have been about if it was not
that? I can't believe that any party has not learned the lessons of
recent months. There is nothing more ridiculous than a bunch of guys
who are trying to convince the public that their party is a coherent
organisation with policies they understand, while at the same time
trying to convince the same public that their colleagues at the top of
the same party who mount the challenge are confused, or incapable, or
too old, or too ambitious. A party with any sense studies the past
decade and takes soundings within and outside. They then, unless they
are so riven with dissent, jealousy and cross purposes, decide on their
next leader. In the case of the Tories, because of the Europhobic
element, they could not do this. In the case of the Liberals, because
of the unplanned collapse of stout parties, they could not do it
either. If the Labour Party wants to emulate this, good luck to them,
but I would hardly advise it.
SEPTEMBER 8th 2006
What an incredible mess. There is serious doubt in my mind now if
Gordon Brown would make a good PM. He has allowed Blair's openly stated
position to be undermined by bogus arguments about foreign and even
domestic policy amongst his doolally camp followers, egged on by the
media. Boring, pathetic, damaging and counter-productive. There are
indeed serious issues to be addressed - but not by rhetoric or postures
doomed to failure. The Palestinian situation is the main one as far as
foreign policy is concerned. But that is no reason to call for Tony
Blair's resignation before the proper time. In an article written for
the SUN, http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006410725,00.html
, Brown does not address that issue but writes strongly in
favour of Blair's other foreign policy and domestic security issues.
This business of allowing idiots, whose support he mistakenly thinks he
needs in any election, to undermine the government, is not the stuff of
which statesmen are made. I said at the start of these comments that GB
was PM material. He has about 24 hrs to prove that now.
SEPT 12th 2006
The chancellor has gone on TV to explain that all of the above fracas
was none of his doing. Sorry, that does not impress. He should never
have allowed it. He may have succeeded in bringing this farce to a
temporary end but he cannot undo the damage. Unfortunately Charles
Clarke (who should never have been sacked as Home Sec) has seriously
damaged the credibility of GB for a large section of the electorate.
Since GB is the candidate still likely to win the Labour leadership
contest, however this is organised, he has done the party no favours.
That would be no problem if the Conservatives were a serious, coherent
party able to take on the role of government, but they are most
certainly not, even if they have some very reasonable and likeable
people amongst the leadership these days.
I would say one thing in Gordon Brown's defence. He has been accused of
being incapable of teamwork, of being a closed in person who works on
his own and does not discuss his thinking with other. But the position
of Chencellor of the Exchequer is a very difficult one in this era of
open government and predatory press. The complexities, dangers and
incalculable risks have grown enormously. All in all, the mistakes he
has made by not sharing his plans and reasoning in advance have
probably been outweighed by the catastrophes avoided by keeping his
mouth shut and his thinking private, even round the cabinet table.
Think about it.
GB's mistakes, financial or personal, can sometimes be put right, by
the man himself. Assumptions about his character failings based on his
performance may not be as simple as Charles Clarke, a man who is
admittedly superb at explaining his thinking frankly as well as
clearly, claims. It remains to be seen.
SEPT 23rd 2006
Over the past few days GB has put these mistakes right as far as I am
concerned. They should have been avoided, but let's face it, Gordon's
way has been to keep his mouth shut a lot of the time unless he has
something new or of importance to say - and that is quite a good modus
operandi for a Chancellor. He opened his mouth at the Labour conference
today to clear up some important points and no doubt now looks forward
to keeping it shut again till needed.
Yes, indeed....but there is a chicken-and-egg problem here
Brown calls for overhaul of UN,
World Bank and IMF
says bodies are lagging globalisation
· 'New world order' must serve developing nations
Larry Elliott in Bangalore
Wednesday January 17, 2007
and far-reaching reform of the United Nations, the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G7 is needed to make
old-fashioned international institutions fit to cope with the “seismic
shifts” of globalisation, Gordon Brown said today.
chancellor used a keynote speech in India to call for fast-growing
developing countries to be given a far bigger role as he outlined what
is likely to be a central theme of his premiership if, as expected, he
replaces Tony Blair as prime minister later this year. In his first
major foray into foreign policy this year Mr Brown said the world had
moved on since the UN, IMF and World Bank were created at the end of
the second world war.
“The post-1945 system of international institutions, built for a world
of sheltered economies and just 50 states, is not yet broken but - for
a world of 200 states and an open globalisation - urgently in need of
modernisation and reform.”
chancellor, on his first visit to India, paid tribute to the work of Mr
Blair on the international stage, with Mr Brown’s aides saying the
domestic political message of the theme was to highlight David
Cameron’s inexperience in foreign affairs. Mr Brown said he was relaxed
about the prime minister’s comment that he expected to still be in
Downing Street for the EU summit in late June.
said reform of international institutions was needed to make
globalisation work for all. Winning the fight against terrorism meant
both a commitment to security and victory in the battle for “hearts and
minds”, he said.
Looking back to the end of the cold war
with the collapse of communism in 1990, Mr Brown said it had not been
foreseen how rapidly the world would change politically and
economically via globalisation. “Globalisation requires at its heart
what democracy provides best - openness to the flow of ideas, people,
capital and goods, the potential of every individual unleashed, and
public institutions capable of holding decision makers to account,” he
Responding to demands from civil society groups that
the stranglehold of rich countries - particularly the United States -
on international bodies should be weakened, Mr Brown said there was a
“need to make globalisation work for all by building an alliance for
economic and social justice and environmental care - an essential
element of the new world order - and by comprehensively and on all
fronts overcoming the challenge of violent jihadist terrorism.”
Brown said the G7 - the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and
Japan - should be expanded. “Beginning with the UK presidency (in
2005), India has been in attendance at meetings of G7 finance ministers
and as part of the G8 plus 5 group has attended the G8. It is time to
formally recognise on a more consistent and regular basis the reality
of this emerging new world order.
“Together and in the same
spirit we should focus on modernisation of the United Nations, so that
it has the right role for the modern world, not least as an effective
peacemaker and peacekeeper.” Mr Brown commended India for being the
third biggest provider of UN peacekeepers and called on other countries
to share the burden.
America has exerted particularly
strong influence over the fund and bank, but the chancellor said they
could not be effective unless modernised - “the IMF to ensure the
stability of the whole world economy, with its primary role no longer
to manage balance of payments crises but on crisis prevention through
the surveillance of our economies.
“There is now a case for bringing together some of the work of the
IMF and the World Bank and even some of the work of the UN.
as a bank for development, the World Bank should have a focus for the
first time on energy security and environmental care.”
Former head Whitehall mandarins Turnbull and Wall have described Gordon
Brown as Stalinist in behaviour, ruthless and secretive, not brooking
discussion on policies he had set his mind to. While I know there have
been quite a few great civil servants and many in the ranks who have
been expert and dedicated to public service, in my view it has been
those at the head of the civil service who have been responsible for
the utter failure over the latter half of the 20th century to get to
grips with the domestic policies that every other European country has
at least attempted to tackle and some succeeded. We should be grateful
to have seen the back of the Turnbulls and the Butlers and their ilk.
The Chancellor ignored their remarks (which were given off the record
a newspaper) apart from a joke at the start of his budget speech. The
budget itself was sensible but not exactly breathtaking. I think he
reckoned the electorate was a bit fragile so tried to reassure them. No
great green budget then.
JUNE 24th 2007
Today, Gordon Brown took over as Leader of the Labour Party, and
Harriet Harman was
installed as deputy leader of the Labour Party and also chairman. It
remains to be seen who GB will choose as Deputy PM. It can't do any
harm to have a woman in those posts though I do remember thinking after
Thatcher stepped down that it might be some time before we wanted
another woman PM. On the other hand I have always thought Margaret
Beckett was one of the clearest thinkers and speakers in politics,
hugely underrated by most commentators. Harman is a bit of a rambling
speaker compared to her and I don't detect and great insight. She is
undoubtedly serious and consciencious and may now have the experience
to do the job. Revelations in the Independent that after the last
election Blair toyed with the idea of sacking Brown as Chancellor carry
no importance for Blair, Brown, the Labour Party or the Country. He
didn't do it.
JUNE 27th 2007
Gordon Brown takes over as PM (I was a bit premature on the 24th!). The
BBC commentator seems surprised at the length of time GB is spending
with the Queen at Buck House. They should be more surprised that he
doesn't spend a few hours there. There is much to discuss for a
'listening PM'. The Queen is a source of information and opinions from
a great number of current sources as well as her long experience.
The longer he spends there the more people can have confidence that
wires are not going to get crossed on some of the most difficult issues
this country has faced. The exchange of information between the head of
state and the new Prime Minister is critical.
JUNE 28th 2007
GB has picked his cabinet. Pretty good. Only Des Browne keeps his old
job - which he was good at, despite the hiccup. Presumably David
Miliband has been made Foreign Secretary in order to have someone
capable of explaining foreign policy to the domestic audience, since
even the Tory party pretend not to understand it as far as the EU is
But there is something strange here. There is a lack of people to stand
up to GB. Beckett has gone, Hewitt has gone, Reid has gone, Clarke long
gone, only Straw and Darling look as if they will not automatically tow
a line. So we have cabinet government but....it looks as though its
task will be to deliver Gordon's agenda, not to have a debate about it.
But since lack of enough delivery, not policy, has been the gripe,
maybe that's the plan.
As for the appointment of the 'outsiders', Digby Jones, Lord Stevens,
etc. that all seems perfectly legitimate to me. Horses for courses.
JULY 14th 2007
So far, so good. The only complaint I can detect as having any validity
is that GB is inclined to announce initiatives that have already been
announced once or twice before. I think in fairness it should be
pointed out that most of these initiatives were interrupted by matters
of overriding importance not of any government's choosing. That they
need to be re-energised and re-announced is not surprising. As for
announcing the proposed contents of the Queen's Speech in advance, that
is only common sense if there is to be no early general general
election but some changes in government policy which require debate in
parliament. So far, Gordon Brown is coming over as strong on
logic and substance and not too bothered with presentation. This is
probably what people want. The media will of course try to interpret in
their special media way rather than take anything at face value, but
then music critics can never just shut up and listen either.
On the home front, the resumption after many years of home building by
councils is an idea whose time has definitely come. The reason is we
now have the technology to build modern, ecologically designed houses
and councils through economy of scale can do this at a very much lower
cost per unit.
SEPTEMBER 4th 2007
So we are told that 'the honeymoon period' may be over for Gordon
Brown, on the basis of some opinion polls. Let us face it, a hefty
percentage of this country do not understand what is going on or why
any policy, domestic or foreign, civil or military, is appropriate,
essential, optional, desirable, difficult or disastrous. I do not think
Gordon was ever interested in a honeymoon, he is going to try to make a
fist of the marriage of public and policy and, through its application,
encourage those responsible for moving and shaking this country, to
pull it through difficult times. Naturally a strike on the London
Underground such as we have today, lasting till Friday, is not going to
help with the state of mind or the economy, but the short strike by the
prison staff was to my mind more serious and could have been avoided.
Both sides were at fault there. The PM is fit for purpose, but maybe
his team are not yet confident enough to show initiative without asking
permission, particularly when the bureaucracy behind the communication
paralysis is linked to economic rules put in place by the PM when he
was chancellor. Joined up government has to be flexible at the joints,
not arthritically rigid.
With regard to the tube strike,
The RMT rail union says it wants guarantees that the collapse [of
Metronet] will not lead to job losses or pension cuts.
TfL and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone say they have already given
that is the case, what is the reason for the strike, other than a Bob
Crow ego trip? It is a bit worrying that anyone would want to join him
on that, so are they all subject to deliberate misinformation? I think
the answer is contained in the second sentence of the first paragraph
of today's entry, which leads on to the question: WHY? The failure to
communicate is even greater than the failure to educate. People choose
their own media by which to form their opinions and actions; and the
worst of the media, in this country, is indeed likely to mis-inform.
There can be no doubt that many are in financial difficulty and this
strike reflects anger, but the strikers have chosen the wrong target.
Neither the travelling public or the underground railway that provides
the striker's not insignificant wages are to blame for their troubles.
Gordon Brown's first address to the Labour Party Conference as Prime
Minister took place today an was well received. The media seemed
preoccupied with whether or not he would go for an election this year
or early next year, but this speculation is of absolutely no interest
to anyone. There is no reason for him to call an election this year or
next, but obviously he would do it if there was any business that
needed to be done which required a new manifesto commitment. That's all
there is to be said on that. Events, therefore, could decide a
premature election, but little else.
SEPTEMBER 26th 2007
Listening to the drivel talked by Ed Balls is enough to turn anyone off
politics for life. This man will say anything if he thinks it is what
his particular audience wants to hear. But Yesterday he talked about
Gordon Brown having to decide if it was a greater gamble to go for an
election now, or not to go for it now. The public could not give a
monkeys uncle for an election right now and if one is called most
people wouldn't bother to vote We have a PM and a government and the
public will let him know if they want an election before his allotted
time is up. If he was to call one now when they do not want one he
would lose a lot of centre ground support. No doubt Balls and some in
certain constituencies would like to take advantage of a bit of a wave,
but if Gordon falls for that he is not the man most people hope he is.
The was never a chance Gordon would have called an election - but he
should have made that clear earlier.
Brown rules out autumn election
Gordon Brown has said he will not call a general election this
The PM said he wanted a chance to show the country his "vision for
change" and to develop his policies further.
He said an election could have been held based on "competency" in
dealing with crises, but he wanted to develop housing, health and
Conservative leader David Cameron said Mr Brown had shown "great
weakness and indecision", and had made a "humiliating retreat".
Opposition leaders had challenged Mr Brown to end uncertainty over
whether he would call an election after mounting speculation in recent
Mr Brown, speaking exclusively to the BBC's Andrew Marr on Saturday
Downing Street, said: "I'll not be calling an election. I have a vision
for change in Britain and I want to show people how in government we're
| He's been trying to spin his way
into a general election campaign and now he's had to make a humiliating
"Over the summer months we've had to deal with crises, we've had to
deal with foot-and-mouth, with terrorism, with floods, we had financial
"Yes, we could have had an election on competence and I
hope people would have understood we have acted competently, but what I
want to do is show people the vision we have for the future of this
country in housing, health and education.
"And I want the chance in the next phase of my
premiership to develop and show people the policies that are going to
make a huge difference and make a change in the whole country itself,"
The prime minister was asked by Andrew Marr whether there would be
no election for a long time to come.
Mr Brown said: "I think it's very unlikely that this will happen in
the next period.
"I think the important thing is that we get on with the business of
change in this country because people do want change and I'm responding
to that demand."
Our correspondent said: "I would say in effect, unless
something extraordinary happens, he is ruling out a general election
either this year or in 2008."
| He should have stated his
intentions, clearly and unequivocally
Liberal Democrat leader
Speculation had been mounting that the prime minister would call a
November election after changes to Parliamentary announcements, such as
a statement on Iraq next week.
Mr Cameron said: "The reason the prime minister has
cancelled this election is that the Conservative Party is making the
arguments about the changes this country needs. People are responding
very positively to our proposals.
"The prime minister has shown great weakness and indecision.
"It's quite clear he's not been focussed on running the country
last few months, he's been trying to spin his way into a general
election campaign and now he's had to make a humiliating retreat."
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the prime
minister's decision showed "a loss of nerve".
"He should have stated his intentions, clearly and unequivocally.
inevitable conclusion is that he's been acting in the interests of the
Labour Party and not in the interests of the country."
| This is a considerable
embarrassment for Gordon Brown
political editor Nick Robinson
The two dates that were most widely touted for an election had been
1 and 8 November.
Speculation had grown when the government also moved forward plans
outline its Comprehensive Spending Review - which sets long-term
spending plans - and pre-Budget report to Tuesday, rather than late
BBC political editor Nick Robinson suggested the main
reason for not calling a snap election would be an unfavourable poll of
marginal seats showing a swing to Tories.
A poll to be published by Sunday's News of the World
puts the Tories ahead by 6% in marginal seats, with the party overall
at 44% against Labour's 38%.
Translated into a general election, it would mean a hung Parliament
with Labour holding 306 seats and the Tories 246.
Our political editor says the prime minister wants to win with a
mandate for real change, but does not think he could do that with an
early election, and consequently may not call an election until 2009.
Own goal to Gordon.
Great victory to Cameron
He says Mr Brown will now plump for a "verdict election" - one based
his actual performance, not on how people think he may do in the
"This will be a day, a weekend and probably a week of
red faces, of awkward headlines and embarrassment for those around
Gordon Brown," he said.
The decision would damage the morale of the Labour Party, he added.
The BBC's head of political research, David Cowling, said the
speculation had had to be stopped one way or another.
"The polls post the Conservative conference have been very good for
Conservatives, the poll that's coming out in marginal seats is very
good for them, so it's all drifting in the wrong direction and it's not
the sort of moment I think at which a prime minister could turn to his
troops and say: 'Well the tide's against us - forward to victory!'
"It wasn't a realistic scenario and he's now having to put a stop
Other recent opinion polls have suggested that Labour's lead over
the Conservatives has fallen.
An ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper on Friday suggested the
Conservatives and Labour were level - on 38% - compared with a 7% lead
for Labour one month ago.
The poll surveyed 1,008 adults on Wednesday and
Thursday, after Mr Cameron's address to the Conservative conference in
And the results of an earlier YouGov survey for Channel
4 News - which interviewed 1,741 people, also on Wednesday and Thursday
- suggested the government, on 40%, was four points ahead of the Tories
compared with a lead of 11 points last week.
Gordon Brown's interview
with Andrew Marr can be seen on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One at 0900
BST on Sunday. The programme will be streamed on the BBC News website.
A bit of classic knockabout in the Commons today at PM's Question Time.
The PM took a few blows, but it was all utterly inconsequential as the
decisions he has taken, which were at issue, are beyond criticism. A
referendum on the EU Constitution is impossible as there is non. A
referendum on the Treaty would be impossible as it is not a singular
item. To call an election would have been so unpopular that it would
have actually lost votes, and the policies he is accused of stealing
(e.g. on taxing planes rather than passengers) were the right policies
anyway. So PM's question time as far as Cameron's input is concerned
was a waste of time, the very thing Cameron had sworn to change.
OCTOBER 11th 2007
We are subjected to endless replays in sound and vision of David
Cameron saying Gordon Brown treats the British public as fools. On the
86% of men are expected to be overweight
within 15 years and 70% of women within 20 years, Professor Klim
McPherson of Oxford University and Tim Marsh of the National Heart
Brown is certainly right. The idea of giving the British public a
referendum on anything, until we have purged or passed beyond the
current generations overwhelmed by so many who can't read, write, speak
or think, would seem to me the height of folly or pure political
Anyone who listened today to PM's Question time and the National
Security Statement and the questions session that followed must now, if
they did not before, realise that Gordon Brown is the best post WWII PM
we are likely to see in our lifetime. How anyone could imagine any of
the time-wasting airheads on the opposition taking his place in the
next 10 years at this critical time in history is beyond my
understanding. At the moment, the top post-war PM is TB, followed by
Thatcher who did at least a few things right which were important but
would have been rightly chucked out earlier had it not been for the
That is not to say the the financial situation left by his long stint
as chancellor is rosy. We have indeed had some stability, but this has
been achieved by very particular methods. The strain has been taken
where it could be, but that has been achieved by living in a state of
denial on the personal debt front. Whereas the French (for instance)
have racked up a massive national debt, the UK has allowed more than
half of its citizens to get into serious debt - something France has
not allowed. Prudence on the national debt also gave way at the end in
the UK as far as the national debt is concerned though the claim is
that the expenditure is 'investment' and therefore not breaking the
'golden rule'. This is technically true. The fact remains that the
situation is only not a a disaster because other 'western' nations have
been fcing the same sort of problems or their own different versions of
So we have in Brown a person who is extremely able to deal with the
terrible problems ahead, some of his own choosing (rather than his own
making), as it was a case of choosing which particular version of the
21st century's opening financial gambit to play.
The critics of the PM are on a role with all the recent 'events'. Of
course he can be brought down any time the public turn against him.
Rupert Murdoch just wants to be on the winning side, and if the public
are turned against GB by the media first stirring the pot and then
pouring the contents over the PM, he has no hope. At least 50% of the
UK public will turn against anyone if they are told the reason they are
£30,000 in debt is his fault, not their own. It makes then feel
so much better. Self esteem is the buzzword of the decade.
NOVEMBER 27th 2007
Gordon Brown is struggling to square his ignorance of Mr Abrahams with
his credibility as leader of his party. He told reporters he had had "no knowledge" of more than
£600,000 of donations from David Abrahams, which could "not be
money was not lawfully declared so it will be returned," he said.
My own view is that it has become impossible for UK political parties
to obtain funding, as making donations in the glare of publicity is
such an unattractive option to either individuals or companies, who may
have no special wish to support a particular party but just wish to
support the democratic process. Even those who do support a particular
part may not wish to broadcast their preference. After all the ballot
is suposed to be secret so that we can keep our political feelings and
prefereces at the time, which may change, private.
So if the Labour Party is hauled over the coals by he public it can
only be because their party is the one that enforced transparency on
all, and the charge is therefore hypocrisy rather than fraud. Once
again the business of government, which is what all sensible eletors
want done, is interrupted by a squabble between the parties. The press
love it. For most of the public it is a crashing bore. On the other
hand, if Mr Abraham has somehow been buying planning favours, that is
quite another matter. But it may be hard to find a connection even if
there is one. It seems to be outside the comprehension of journalists
that Mr Abraham just wants to use his money to support politics and the
Labour Party. Unless more of our citizens do support our political
parties democracy can fail.
NOVEMBER 28th 2007
I agree with Roy Hattersley that these events have absolutely no
bearing on the competence of the PM or his ability to be a first rate
holder of the office. I find Cameron and his abusive prattle in the
House of Commins absolutely pathetic. He should be put back in nappies
and given a dummy to suck on.
DECEMBER 4th 2007
Stephen Sackur is an accomplished and intelligent BBC interviewer but
in today's "Hard Talk" Roy Hattersley won every point and several times
has Sackur completely lost for words. I never thought Hattersley would
be my hero but today is certainly is. He demolished the charges of
incompetence that Sackur was attempting, for reasons I do not
understand, to justify. In fact he demolished almost every point Sackur
was trying to make, other than the ones he agreed with, whch were fair
DECEMBER 23rd 2007
The press commentators are busy writing Gordon Brown's political
obituaries. I hope he does not get too depressed by this. Gordon is a
poor tactician, it is true, but he has a grasp of reality that his
political opponents do not possess in even small traces. We are coming
up to perilous times and I don't want to see any of them involved
in the government of the UK at any price. They can by all means pick up
on GB's errors and make him correct them where possible, but that's as
far as it safe to have them engaged in matters they have little real
JANUARY 24th 2008
As the economic chickens come home, the commentators and the opposition
are desperate to be the first to hold Gordon responsible not only for
the economic chickens but what they claim is his failure to show
leadership in handling them. Personally I think the government's
handling of the Northern Rock affair has been about right. Peter Hain's
big cockup of his campaign funds is a loser, it has to be said. I
can't really blame him for trying to win the post he was after, and in
marketing terms it was not a lot of money and it was, as far as we
know, contributed by people who thought he would do a good job, This
does not help Brown. Portillo says his cabinet is hopelessly weak, but
John Hutton does not sound weak to me and who is strong in the other
parties? They make noise, but what do they know? Very little. What is
absolutely certain is if there are things Brown could have done or not
done in the last 5 years, that he should have/have not done, he would
have been opposed utterly and ruthlessly by the other parties and the
press. That is what makes the current song and dance so pathetically
APRIL 14th 2008
I find the crash in Brown's rating due to the onset of recession
combined with the credit crunch understandable, as such a combination
has never happened before in living memory. But we ten have to accept
that the previous era of steady UK expansion with stable low interest
rates had never happened before either. George Brown had the choice of
how to ride the last wave: join the Euro or go it alone. He had to go
it alone as the City would not accept the Euro and Industry chickened
out of the Euro and the Eurosceptics in the country would not support
entry. Brown therefore had no choice but to ride the wave as UK Ltd,
and enterprise with diminishing manufacturing but an increasing
banking, investment, services and property sector. There is no good
berating him now for not following a policy the self-interest of key
elements of UK society would allow parliament, whatever government was
in power, to follow.
So all those now baying for blood and panicking over the financial
crisis deserve nothing but my utter contempt, which I hereby deliver
with knobs on. Brown is not going to bother to spin this one, so it
would be quite possible for a combination of our press and asinine
pblic and political commentators to bring him down. Thie idea of having
that ass Cameron and baby Hague and co in charge is to ridiculous to
think about and Clegg, though he means well and is right about a few
things, does still not understand life, the universe and arithmetic.
That said, the budget has made GB very unpopular as it helped few and
hit some who were really not ready for it. He will be accused of being
out of touch, and of no having prepared the public for what is
happening. That is true.
APRIL 24th 2008
The troubles Gordon Brown has had with the abolition of the 10p income
tax band were unfortunately inevitable from the day he himself
introduced it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. This was it:
9 March 1999
REFORM OF INCOME TAX RATES AND ALLOWANCES
The Chancellor today unveiled a three year package to reform the
structure of income tax and meet the Government's commitments to
improve work incentives and help both pensioners and families with
A new 10 pence rate of tax will be introduced for the new tax year,
problem is that this tax rate would apply to only a limited range of
taxpayers, some of whom would be transient but some more permanent, and
the relief it afforded would soon become built in to their finances,
their expectations and needs. When later on Gordon, as Chancellor,
introduced many other measures to help the least well off and also
reduced the basic rate of income tax further to 20 pence in the pound,
he realisd that the 10p band should be and had to be removed. Had
Alistair Darling tried in the last budget to copmpensate all those who
would find themselves worse off because of the removal of the 10p band,
though better off because of all the other measures over the last 10
years, the complexity would have been such as to cause perplexity and
even derision amongst critics. Let's face it, when Gordon introduced
the 10p band he gave a hostage to fortune, one he could have got away
with had it not been for the global financial collapse coinciding with
its removal. But for that he might even have been able to lift the tax
which begins on 6 April. The 10p rate will be the lowest rate of
income tax this country has seen for more than 35 years, and will
ensure that people on lower pay keep more of what they earn. And
from April 2000, the basic rate of income tax will also be cut by a
penny, taking it to 22p, the lowest it has been for almost 70 years.
Together, these changes will improve work incentives by making work
As it is, the bubble that hid the flaw in not just Gordon's economics
but every other western country has thankfully burst. It's going to
hurt, but there you go. It is really not interesting listening to
Cameron or even Cable wittering on. Gordon has agreed to find a way to
help those who have lost out who are in a category where it is evident
they are disproportionate losers. I think Frank Field di quite a good
job, and for once the BBC's Nick Robinson has got his head round the
subject and reported and commented with some insight on Radio 4.
Gordon has indeed been hoist by his own petard*, but that's life. Did
he deserve it? Not really, but it will have been good for him and we
will all benefit.
News details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7364344.stm
* Note: a 'petard' is an explosive device. The word 'hoist' here means
'blown up'. Media blatherers please note, you cannot hoist anyone ON a
MAY 4th 2008
The mathematics behind the local authority election results are
inescapable. A Labour majority vote depends on three elements:
1. Their traditional left-wing voters
2. Some of the floating voter that goes for any party that suit's their
immediate needs best
3. The poorest in the community who trust and assume that Labour is
more on their side than others
4. Previous Conservative voters who abandoned that party as hopelessly
divided, out of date and therefore unable to function.
Gordon Brown, after years as Chancellor, had got out of the habit of
'appealing' to any particular part of the electorate. He had got into
the business of world politics and Britain as a whole as a player. The
prosperity of the nation was his aim as he genuinely and correctly saw
that as the only way to help all in society. But he lost site of the
vulnerable at a time of critical importance. Giscard d'Estaing made the
same mistake years back in France. Gordon avoided boom and bust by
allowing a steady boom and hiding the bust in the nation's roll-over
balance sheets and the credit fed by the banks based on global growth.
So how does the maths work out? Gordon made some enemies amongst (1)
above. To compensate he would have needed success with 2, 3 and 4. But
he lost a lot of (2) by clobbering their automobile costs, dropped a
lot of (3) with his careless 10p tax range change just at the time when
they were clobbered by rises in costs they could not avoid (Council
tax, heating, food etc), and this at the moment when for the first time
in years the Conservatives had a leader who could take back a
considerable number of (4) above.
Add up the probable numbers of those who would therefore either not
vote or vote for other than Labour and you have the answer.
So what should GB do? Just get on with what he was doing, actually. His
mistakes have, ironically, come from trying to appeal to electors and
win at the political game, rather like Blair did. Unfortunately
this is what half the public seem to want, but he has tripped up doing
it. He should not play their game. Of course he is head of a party, and
the careers of all his MPs hangs in the balance, but running the
country and appealing to an electorate systematically confused by the
the media and by many of the supporters of all three parties are
probably mutually exclusive at this time.
What should Cameron do? Sit down with his party thinkers and decide on
their approach to the EU. When they have that agreed they could be fit
to form an alternative government, after the next election should they
win it. But they will be faced with the same problem that will face any
political leader: the population is hopelessly divided on every issue,
confused on every issue and ignorant of many realities. But there are
some realities the public are very close to with respect to their
perilous financial position and the lack of security in their lives.
Gordon Brown is less confused than any PM since Churchill or Atlee, but
he did not realise how desperate some of the electorate are. Neither
did Tony Blair, but people were hoping Brown would understand and act.
He might have done if the credit bubble had not blown up in his face.
Now, he needs to be more ingenious and imaginative than any PM in the
las 50 years if he is to continue to help the aspiring and positive
elements, help the needy, and at the same time avoid wasting public
money on empire-building bureaucrats or throwing money at the
undeserving to buy their silence.
MAY 5th 2008
I think Gordon has still not
got the message. He has now dithered on the excess rubbish tax.
Although the pilot scheme is to go ahead he has allowed news to leak
out that he is against it.
Gordon, dear boy, those
who throw out an excessive amount of rubbish every week are NOT in need
of help. They are over-consumers and wasters and you should tax them
till it hurts with taxes they cannot escape till they learn how to
behave. Of course a lot of these people are your supporters,
unfortunately, as you have in all good conscience helped the economy to
make them rich. Unfortunately many of these people have no idea how to
behave when they come off the breadline.
I thought you were the
man to govern this country properly without fear or favour. New labour
has had the support of many previous Conservative voters and many
Liberals, in fact all those who wanted to get the Tories out of the way
so we could move forward. Amongst these were traditional labour voters
as well.. But New Labour is a One Nation party or it is nothing. It
must allow the modest poor to live simply without being buggered about,
it must allow the aspiring movers and shakers to build and run
businesses and institutions. I mus be non-doctrinaire and privatise and
nationalise wisely as required, devoid of dogma. But it must not ever
seek the votes of those who are not aware what is facing this country,
Europe and the world if we do not stop arsing about. It is your duty to
take the right decisions whether it wins Labour the next election or
not and the right decision is to tax excess rubbish HEAVILY.
The only way Gordon and New Labour can win the next election is to do
the right thing. That alone will bring in a majority of votes, from
some of every constituency, voting across all parties and precedents.
It's as simple as that. This paragraph is an amber light. Don't make me
go to red.
MAY 7th 2008
I am having to face up to an awful truth. While I had reservations
about Gordon Brown I have always been a great supporter and an admirer
of his style apart from the albeit serious exceptional instances noted
in this file. But when he says this:
Gordon Brown has marked the 60th anniversary of the creation of
Israel, calling it one of the "greatest achievements" of the 20th
Speaking at Finchley Synagogue last night, the PM said
that Israel has faced "immense threats" since its creation. He called
for a future where the "children of Abraham" would live together in
peace as part of the same extended family.
I have to say that in my view racial isolationism is the curse of
global humanity, the idea of racial purity is the philosopy of Nazism,
the common identity of race and religion is the final abomination and
the state of Israel is founded on all of the above. The invention of
the modern state of Israel in the heart of a region inhabited by rival
Semites, Arabs, Iranians and other Muslims was the biggest mistake of
the 20th Century. It is a mistake we have to live with and that is the
best that can possibly be said of it. I can only assume Gordon reckons
Labour needs the money.
MAY 13th 2008
This looks like the only sensible way to set out the 10 tax-band
Basic rate taxpayers to get £120
Chancellor Alistair Darling addresses MPs
Chancellor Alistair Darling
has put up the personal tax allowance by
£600 - meaning anyone earning up to £40,835 will gain
£120 this year.
His £2.7bn tax cut for
this year came as part of measures to help those hit by the axing of
the 10p tax rate.
He told MPs he would lower the
level at which 40p tax is paid - so higher earners did not gain from
The Crewe/Nantwich by-election results are hardly surprising. Labour
ran a rotten campaign and many people are furious about the 10p tax
mess. However the idea that Cameron and his team are better equipped to
run the country at this time does not stack up. Gordon Brown gets
criticised for good judgement as well as bad. Meeting the Dalai Llama
at Lambeth Palace was a diplomatic gesture at a time when good
relations with China are in the interest of all Chinese and all
JUNE 9th 2008
I cannot agree with the proposal to ban the carriage of all knives.
Gordon Brown by associating himself personally with initiative risks
his credibility as PM. Every young person should carry a penknife or
Leatherman or Swiss Army knife as a basic tool. They should know how to
use it* or accept that they are totally dependent on those who do.
Parents, teachers and politicians who are worried about stabbings
should turn their attention to youths who are not amenable to
discipline or reason. They should have their privileges removed. At
school they should have to pass through a metal detector and be frisked
by uniformed police 3 times a day. They would very soon lose their aura
of 'respect' when everyone else at school had permission to carry a
knife and they were not.
In my youth, every
single person at school carried a knife, usually a penknife. They were
used for sharpening pencils, cutting notches, cutting string, carving
where required, cutting paper cleanly (along folds or scoring with the
point), cleaning fingernails and a hundred other things. The
alternative is to have pencil sharpeners and scissors and other tools
permanently in one's pocket which is ridiculous. A pointed blade is not
always needed but sometimes it is. Making all the points blunt would
not stop any sociopathic youth from sticking it into another anyway.
The puropose of education is to prepare people for responsibility. That
means giving them training in potentially dangerous tools and how to
handle them. Those who exhibit sociopathic behaviour need to be
discovered, treated and if untreatable restricted in their privileges.
The basis of civilisation is discrimination on grounds of behaviour -
not on other grounds.
JUNE 22nd 2008
See KING CANUTE
JULY 25th 2008
Yes.... the only possible response to the success of Alex Salmond and
his crew, and the bleatings of Cameron, is this (below).
I am sure Mr Salmond knows how to please a lot of voters, and Cameron
knows how to sell his wares. Brown is no salesman and never could be
and has made some poor tactical judgments but he has a grasp of the
realities and how to deal with them. There is no reason why the SNP
should not be a majority in the Scottish Parliament, it is only the
idea of independence that is daft.
I'll get on
with job, says Brown
Gordon Brown has promised to "get on with the job" of dealing
economy, following Labour's defeat in the Glasgow East by-election.
He told the BBC the government had to "listen and hear people's
concerns" over rising food and energy costs.
The Scottish National Party claimed the Glasgow East result was "off
the Richter scale", after overturning a Labour majority of 13,507.
Conservative leader David Cameron urged Mr Brown to call a general
"I think we need change in this country, and that's how change
should come about," said Mr Cameron.
Mr Brown is now meeting trade union leaders and activists to
discuss Labour's policies for the next general election.
His speech at the National Policy Forum in Warwick is expected at
BST and is being seen as a key moment in Mr Brown's efforts to turn
round party morale.
Ahead of his address, Mr Brown said: "I think what people want to
know is that we understand and we hear their concerns.
"People are worried every time they go to the petrol station for
and worry about the costs... These are concerns that are happening in
every other country.
"My whole focus and whole task is to take people through difficult
FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME
He added: "We've got to listen and hear people's concerns and
that's exactly what we are doing."
Mr Brown also said: "I'm getting on with the job. My task is
getting on with the job. It's exactly what people want me to do."
The Glasgow East seat became vacant with the resignation on health
grounds of Labour's David Marshall.
It has long been regarded as one of Labour's safest seats - but the
won it by 365 votes, achieving a swing of 22.54% from Labour.
It follows the recent loss of the Crewe and Nantwich seat, the
London mayoralty and poor results in local elections.
'Cost of living'
John Mason, the SNP's winning candidate in Glasgow East, said:
"Three weeks ago the SNP predicted a political earthquake.
"This SNP victory is not just a political earthquake; it is off the
Richter scale. It is an epic win and the tremors will be felt all the
way to Downing Street."
| Will it add to the pressure on
Gordon Brown? Of course
Political editor, BBC Scotland
Earlier, Scottish Secretary Des Browne told BBC Radio 4's Today
programme people do not vote for divided parties and Labour must unite
behind Mr Brown.
He said said the loss was "directly related to the cost
of living" and said "we need to do more of the sorts of things that
we've been doing".
"People do not think that the steps we are taking at
the moment are adequately responding to the circumstances that they
feel," Mr Browne said..
"We need to build on what we have been doing - and we
planned to do that in any event - but we also need to hold our nerve
and hold the course on the longer-term issues."
There was also a "Scottish context" to the defeat, with Labour
currently lacking a leader in Scotland and having lost control of the
country's parliament, he added.
At the Warwick conference, the unions, which now
account for the vast majority of Labour Party funding, are reportedly
putting about 100 demands on issues ranging from new rights for workers
to free school meals for all primary school pupils.
The three-day forum will be considering new ideas and amendments to
It brings together 55 Constituency Labour Parties and 30 trade
unions, as well as other socialist movements.
It divides policy into six areas - Britain in the world;
communities; crime and justice; education; health; prosperity.
There are calls for:
change in policy (whatever that means)
windfall tax on energy suppliers
All very bad ideas except that policy always adapts to circumstances. I
trust the PM will keep his eyes and ears open and carry on. He has made
a few bad tactical political errors over the past year or two but so
what? These are trivial compared to the real tasks.
JULY 31st 2008
Bob Marshall-Andrews says Brown must sack David Miliband because of his
article in the Guardian defending New Labour without mentioning Gordon
Brown. Marshall-Andrews brain is remarkable in its inability to imagine
or simulate the workings of any other brain, which explains why he
could never be Foreign Secretary. Personally I would have thought
Gordon would be relieved to know he had confident lieutenants such as
Miliband who can defend a party and policy without finding it necessary
to hang onto apron strings. Marshall-Andrews still lives in Ancient
Rome and paranoia rules his mind, the perennial backbench conspirator
who loves to speak his mind in safety and appear the soul of honesty
and wisdom. Can we never move on?
SEPTEMBER 6th 2008
There have been no entries here for some time as thee has been nothing
to comment about. The critics of Brown have been idiotic, whether
within his party or outside it, not that he has been without fault. He
has been wrong to accuse Russia of aggression in Georgia, but Miliband
has been even worse. I had until now approved of Miliband and his
recent behaviour is disappointing. Brown's silence on most other
matters, apart from what he has actually had to say, I find appropriate
and admirable. Thee is no point in getting involved with a lot of
people whose understanding of the current global economic situation is
nil and of the domestic situation personal only.
This file now ends as commentary will continue in the file THE END OF LABOUR. That title
does not actually predict the end of Labour Government, but to avoid
that Gordon has to get the idiots in his own party into line and then
to get the country to understand what he is talking about. I think he
will do the first, but the second depends on the electorate and I have
very limited confidence in them given our political press and their
need to appear as the readers' champion and the government the only
enemy they can find.