Was Brown’s ‘resignation’ honourable or did he play a sharp card?

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    10th May 2010

    To answer my own question – BOTH actually.

    That’s how politics (and life) is at times – complicated and contradictory.

    Mandelson & Brown yesterday. Mr Brown, like Mr Blair, is likely to find his political afterlife may be more satisfying and suited to his abilities. The IMF?

    This morning as we roll into another day of non-government, these are some of the thoughts of politicos and opiners  – see BBC’s Live Event (you can also watch live political TV news here.)

    9:54 – A couple of today’s cartoons for you. Matt, in the Daily Telegraph, imagines “Lib-Lab sports day” where the podium has the first place competitor on the lowest tier, and second and third much higher, their occupants arms raised in celebration. “Trying to defuse an amateurish explosive device,” is the caption in the Times. It shows Gordon Brown and David Cameron dressed in protective gear working to neutralise a Lib Dem “bomb”.
    9:45 – “Signs are, we’re witnessing a strange Lib Dem power clash,” writes Peter Hoskin, of the Spectator. “Nick Clegg is perhaps the most naturally right-leaning leader in his party’s modern history, and someone who has good ‘chemistry’ with David Cameron. But the party machine is doing all it can to push him in the opposite direction.” He says “big hitters” like Lord Ashdown and Sir Menzies Campbell are pushing Mr Clegg towards Labour.
    9:39 – “The idea that the two parties that suffered most in this election, that were rejected by the electorate, that in the case of the Labour party lost a hundred of its seats, should put together an illegitimate government, this is the Robert Mugabe style of politics,” says Conservative MP and former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. “It’s exactly what Mugabe did you know, he lost the election and scrabbled to hold onto power.”
    9:16 – “The discussions between the political parties have now reached a critical and final phase,” says Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, outside his London home. “I’m as impatient as everybody else to get on with things, to resolve matters one way or the other.”
    9:13 – Angus Robertson, from the Scottish National Party, says a multi-party coalition including the nationalists could work, and is the best option in his view. “Why? Well, 85% of voters in Scotland did not vote for the Conservative Party, and the idea that we could have a coalition cobbled between the third and fourth parties – because that is what they are the Tories and Lib Dems are in Scotland – would be totally unacceptable,” he says.
    9:08 – David Cameron said he had made “a very full, very open, very reasonable offer to the Liberal Democrats” in order to try to deliver stable government. He said he hoped the Lib Dems would now make “the right decision”.
    9:04 – Lord Ashdown, former Lib Dem leader, says a Lab-Lib coalition – without any other party’s support – could work even though it wouldn’t have a Commons majority. “Although there would be a technical majority which could overturn that, [such a] political majority could never be assembled.” The reason? It would require the nationalists, notably the SNP, to vote with the Tories, something Lord Ashdown says they would “never” do.
    8:56 -“The most disgusting aspect of yesterday’s events was not Gordon Brown’s pathetic attempt to escape the judgment of the electorate; it was Nick Clegg’s sudden decision to alter the terms of his negotiations with the Tories because he had received a supposedly better offer,” writes Damian Thompson, in the Daily Telegraph. “The Lib Dem leader reminded me of a blackmailer in an old movie.”
    8:25 – Mr Osborne says he doesn’t think the idea of the Tories “going it alone” is an option. “We can’t just turn up at Buckingham Palace and say we would like to form a minority government. We would need the consent of the Liberal Democrats to form a minority government,” he says.
    7:50 – A prominent Scottish Labour MP has expressed reservations about a coalition deal between his party and the Liberal Democrats. The MP for Glasgow South Tom Harris said such a deal could be a wasted effort and result in a Government “supported by the nationalists when they feel like it”. He also said he was worried about what it could mean for the Labour Party if it was seen to be “scrabbling around in a very ungracious way” to hold on to power.
    7:44 – David Blunkett says the Lib Dems are behaving “like every harlot in history”. He says Labour should not be seeking to form the next government.


    Reid, the FT, Abbott, Hattersley & assorted others on the shenanigans

    John Reid, former Blair Minister, on BBC rolling news tonight said that he thinks we should allow the Tories to take over government.

    Old Labourite Roy Hattersley is really excited about burying New Labour.

    Leadership After Brown? Let Battle Commence.

    Lance Price, former Blair aide, on BBC Radio 4 News at Ten says that there are likely to be two main candidates, David Miliband and Ed Balls.  One is a Blairite and thus a ‘winner’, the other is a Brownite.

    George Parker at The FT describes Brown’s resignation as ‘potentially a political masterstroke’


    ‘Peter Mandelson marvelled at the sheer audacity of it all. Gordon Brown’s resignation announcement at 5pm was a moment of political theatre of the highest order, potentially a masterstroke.

    Lord Mandelson believes Mr Brown’s brief statement in Downing Street has unlocked a possible Labour deal with the Liberal Democrats completing the “progressive” coalition of the two parties once envisaged by Tony Blair.

    But in the days since the May 6 election, Mr Brown has taken soundings from the people whose judgment he respects the most, including Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, his fellow New Labour architects. On Sunday, he made an unusual visit to a local church in his Fife constituency before flying down to London. After arriving in Downing Street, he talked about his plans to others, including Harriet Harman, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.

    According to those who know Mr Brown, he made up his mind to quit on Friday, the day after the election, when he also spoke to Mr Blair. “He said that it was clear he wouldn’t be leading Labour into the next election,” said one ally.’

    So. He spoke to Tony Blair, the old enemy, whose judgement the FT says he respects.

    But of course, the bitter Diane Abbott, who fell out of love with Brown despite her adulation for him for “doing in” the previous leader blames it all on Blair and the Blairites.  What the hell is she doing in that party anyway if she ends up applauding the demise of all its leaders? Go off and start your own little party, Ms Abbott. And take Roy Hattersley with you. Then you can both fester contentedly in old, class-based socialism.


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