The knives are out for Gordon. Before or after Tony’s birthday?

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    Comment at end

    22nd April 2010

    [Point of information: TONY’S BIRTHDAY? 6th May. Election day.]

    The present PM, on election tour yesterday (Photo: Martin Argles)

    As we await tonight’s Big Show from Bristol, to see if the newly discovered(?!), down-pegging answer(?!) to all our disillusionment(?!) can do it again, what’s afoot with the Mandelsonians/D-Milibandians, formerly known as the Blairites? Here are three takes on what’s-a-happening behind the scenes, where it all happens dontcha know?

    Guido suspects [Lord Philip] Gould and Mandelson’s real game now is to make Miliband leader with Mandelson as the Dark Prince Regent…

    From one of his “contacts” at San Francisco airport came this to Guido Fawkes, the right-wing blogger who pretends to be politically neutral:

    ‘I’m in the BA lounge at SFO and the guy next to me was receiving some attention. I didn’t recognise him so I ogled his boarding pass. It says “Gould Philip Lord” and I do at least recognise his name. Anyway, he’s not as discreet as he could be. He’s just emailing peter mandelson and I could get a read of the message if I had more balls. Listening to him speak, though, he openly said to someone that he was worried by the polls. He thinks that Labour & Libdems will gradually sink, leaving things clear for Tories. Hoping so…

    I’ll email more if he stays indiscreet.

    And another email reached the inbox a little later…

    To: guido.fawkes@order-order.com
    Date: Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 11:41 PM
    Subject: Philip Gould in San Francisco airport

    He got an upgrade to first class and is now in seat 01A. He says he “feels so guilty about this first class thing”. He just bought 3 boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

    IP tracing confirms the email was sent from California. Guido suspects Gould and Mandelson’s real game now is to make Miliband leader with Mandelson as the Dark Prince Regent…

    UPDATE : Just realised Lord Gould will still be mid-Atlantic and won’t know about this until he lands.’

    LEADING THE FUTURE?

    So, it seems we may have PM Miliband before too many weeks have passed. Or will we? Meanwhile where is that other guy? You know the one? Used to be prime minister. Oh, yes. Well, he’s in Malaysia and then Singapore until the end of the month talking about leading the future. You couldn’t make it up. He’ll be back for the last few days of campaigning to lend a hand, volcanoes and other things permitting.


    Then there’s this: according to Andrew Porter at The Telegraph, Torygraph, something is definitely afoot.

    “So poorly has Gordon Brown performed that the Tories have dismissed him entirely as a credible threat. Yet Mandelson remains curiously upbeat. Here is why.

    Polling experts are saying that the Lib Dem surge could see Labour come second in the popular vote and yet still secure the most Commons seats. No one is banking on it, but it is more possible than at any time in the past six months.

    For the likes of Lord Mandelson this represents an opportunity that he probably believed had gone forever. Could he be the man to stitch together a centre-Left coalition with the Lib Dems that marginalises the Tories in a way he and Tony Blair used to dream about?

    Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, yesterday became the first Cabinet minister to encourage people to vote for a hung parliament.

    For some at Labour’s top table, this is the moment they have been waiting for; when they can kill off Gordon Brown – a sacrifice demanded by Nick Clegg in return for his support – and install a leader with more appeal. That person would be David Miliband.

    If Labour wins most seats in a hung parliament, so the scenario goes, Lord Mandelson would do a deal that sees Mr Clegg serve as deputy prime minister with Vince Cable as Chancellor. Lord Mandelson would take over the vacancy left by David Miliband at the Foreign Office, fulfilling a career-long ambition; Alan Johnson would stay as Home Secretary and leading Lib Dems David Laws and Chris Huhne would be found middle-ranking government positions. Ed Miliband would ensure the smooth running of the coalition as Cabinet Office supremo.

    There are risks. Would the public wear a prime minister who was not on the scene during an election a few weeks before? Would Labour MPs wear David Miliband or a deal with the often hated Lib Dems?

    Lord Mandelson and his acolytes would argue that Labour MPs would wear a leader who gives them a poll bounce and keeps Labour in government.

    Harriet Harman and Mr Johnson are the possible brakes on the plan. Both know what is going on. They, along with Jack Straw, would fancy the idea of being a two-year caretaker leader while the coalition beds down and Labour chooses a new leader.

    The Prime Minister is powerless to stop the plotting. Why? Because at the centre of it is Lord Mandelson, the man who saved him from political oblivion last year.”

    Jonathan Freedland at the still largely Labour-supporting Guardian insists that a manacled Brown needs to be unleashed. I call that making the point and missing it at the same time.

    Excerpt:

    “What explains this curious neutering of the prime minister in his own campaign? The obvious reading is that his colleagues have decided that Brown’s much-discussed limitations in the communications department mean he’s better kept out of sight. But others suspect a different story: that Brown has lost out in a battle for control with his one-time nemesis and new ally, Peter Mandelson.

    In this reading, Mandelson has dispatched Brown to the provinces so that he can remain in charge at the centre. It was Mandelson who did the crucial Today programme interview yesterday morning, Mandelson, backed by Alastair Campbell, who is directing strategy and message from London. Even seasoned Mandelson watchers raised their eyebrows at the business secretary’s treatment of the PM at the Monday morning press conference at Bloomberg’s headquarters. Brown wanted to take more questions, but Mandelson, in the chair, overruled him, telling him he had other things to be getting on with. Neither he, nor anyone else, dared talk that way to Tony Blair.

    In 1997, the Blair battlebus was the centre of the action. In 2010, if an announcement comes on board the Gordon Brown Express, it usually echoes news that’s already broken in London. Brown seems sidelined.”


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    Gordon Brown blocked Blair’s benefit reforms man




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