Comment at end of page
As a little preface to this page, let me let you into a secret: this blog permits me to see how popular each page is. Perhaps it’s to be expected on a blog called ‘Tony Blair’, but any page I put up which has “Brown” in the title or at the top, seems to do pretty badly, even when I move it up to the top of the list. So, I’ve decided to place all the Brown bits into this page in future.
Note, before I start: Apologies to Tony (not Tony B but Tony J, a regular commenter, for whom I have high regard but who thinks the sun shines out of … well, he admires Mr Brown.) Sorry about the segregated nature and other elements of this page, my friend. But this site isn’t called “Tony Blair” etc, for nothing.
18th September, 2007
GB/PM’s PREVIOUS JOB – DON’T MENTION IT!
When GB/PM came into Downing Street on that fateful day in June (!), he found himself thrown right into the big picture and coped reasonably well, it would seem. It’s been a busy summer for politics, one way or another. And now things are hotting up even more.
His main problem is his previous job. Since so much depends on the decisions made by a Chancellor, he is likely to be questioned over his decisions repeatedly as time and events progress.
For example, the present Northern Rock situation. Its condition, though largely due to American housing easy money, is seen as symptomatic of a wider malaise with the readies, which GB/Chancellor did nothing to discourage.
BROWN – A CAT OR A MOUSE?
For someone whose nickname was Prudence, some are asking why he did not make more of an issue of the increasing debt burden in this country while he had serious influence over economic policy.
But – guess what! The Invisible
chancellor, er PM – is not there. Mr Brown – didn’t your predecessor mention in his note as he handed over the reins – as PM you just CAN’T disappear. The buck stops with you!
Why don’t they name that new moggie in Downing Street, which I believe belongs to the current chancellor – Macavity?
16th September, 2007
POLLS: MIXED MESSAGES
It may not completely stop his plans for an autumn election but the slipping opinion poll ratings for Labour in today’s Times (see YouGov breakdown) will cause him some concern. Since he has been, by most accounts, making a decent fist of the new job, and Cameron has not, I’m not quite clear as to why Labour has fallen back 3 points and the Tories have gained 2.
Voting intentions: Con 34; Lab 39; LibDem 15; Others 12.
While Labour enjoys a five-point lead over the Conservatives, it has slipped three points from 42% to 39% while the Tories have climbed from 32% to 34%. The Liberal Democrats, on the eve of their party conference, have edged up from 14% to 15% but remain well down on their 23% share of the vote in the May 2005 general election.
And as for how well GB is doing as PM, 10% think he is doing very well; 52% fairly well, 17% fairly badly; 5% very badly, 15% don’t know. As for the expectations – 56% think he has done better that they had expected, compared to 7% who think he has done worse, and 7% who don’t know.
In April of this year Blair at, arguably his lowest ebb, was still polling at 35% happy with how he was doing in his job, compared with Brown today at 62%. Both perhaps better than might be expected.
Click through to the YouGov (pdf) file for a detailed breakdown. As for analysis of what it all means – well, there are statistics, opinion polls and events, dear boy.
SHAME ON YOU, GB/PM – TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A FRAIL ELDERLY LADY
It seems that GB/PM’s invitation to tea for Lady Thatcher upset a few people in the Tory party. An MP says that Brown was taking advantage of an elderly lady, whose memory is not quite what it used to be. What? Do they think she thought it was David Cameron in Number 10? Or Tony Blair?
It’s also possible that she knew full well what she was doing – upsetting young Mr C, who is discarding her legacy, bit by Blairite bit.
She was only being fair, anyway. She liked that nice young Mr Blair when he moved into Her Old House ten years ago. So, it was only right that she met his older brother now he’d inherited the crown, wasn’t it?
Whatever. There IS something going on that looks a little underhand to me, even for the skulduggery (as Blair put it in his last PMQs) of politics.
And now that Brown has asked The Lady if he could have a painting of HER in Number 10! Well, for goodness sake. Talk about upstaging Blair! Even HE would never have upset the Labour faithful THAT much.
What IS Brown playing at? Methinks he doth trust his personal attributes too much!
AND TALKING ABOUT TRUST
The latest poll, from the News of The World only puts Brown about 4 points ahead of his rival, in the trust stakes.
What do you mean, “So, Cameron’s doing all right then”?
I meant his REAL rival – BLAIR. Yes the guy THEY kicked out because, THEY said, WE couldn’t trust him, is only a few points behind the new, great, CHANGE, GB/PM in the trustworthy stakes, according to a BBC analysis of the latest YouGov opinion poll. What have we DONE!?
ANOTHER FINE MESS YOU’LL GET US INTO, DR DEATH
And now that David Owen is sneaking back into the Labour party – hah! What a joke! As one of the original “Gang of Four” who broke from Labour to form the SDP over 20 years ago, he was so anti-EU that he couldn’t even merge with the Liberals. He left the other three quarters of the Four and the Alliance to merge without him. The Liberals & most of the SDP had resultant problems in the constituencies as they merged, largely as a result of Owen’s dogged intransigence. Thus the new Lib/SDP party lost some good SDP members who felt the pull to remain loyal to Owen.
Oh, Gord – take my advice. Don’t trust David Owen. He hates Europe, so that’ll be no problem for you – yet. But he’ll also make your life hell over Iraq. And, no doubt you’ll remember what they used to call him.
Now, Paddy Ashdown. There’s a man who certainly used to have vision and leadership qualities. Not that you’re looking for the latter. Though perhaps Ashdown could be YOUR man in Baghdad, as he was Blair’s in the Balkans after Kosovo.
But he spotted the trap door at a thousand paces! He’s already turned you down.
Anyway, he’s Tony’s friend. So, like John Reid, he needs to be history. You can go TOO far with this inclusivity stuff now, don’t you think?
14th September, 2007
YES, PRIME MINISTER
Just spotted this video on YouTube. You really MUST go and take a look – it’s only a few minutes long. The grin that breaks out on the PM’s face, on hearing the bad news regarding his predecessor, appears and disappears just as instantly as that of youknowwho, don’t you think? Not that I’m implying anything, mind you.
BROWN THE “BRILLIANT STRATEGIST” (according to Blair)
As you will probably know I don’t really have a lot of time for GB/PM – he doesn’t inspire me, or fill me with trust. But now and again – especially as he lays the ground for a November election, (which I still think is a possibility if he averages a 10% lead over Cameron) – something happens that I feel compelled to mention.
IS TEA WITH MRS T – PURE POLITICKING?
If Mr GB/PM had just wanted to invite Lady thatcher to see the new curtains, it would have been a private affair at number 10. As it was, she was greeted at the door, fussed over in front of ALL the invited press, and waved off with a bow.
The pictures of Lady T with Tony Blair at the Falklands commemoration in June, had to be faded out of minds somehow, did they not? Couldn’t leave the thought in Tory/Labour floating minds that only Blair appeals to Lady T now, could we?
Amazing how the much derided Thatcher has now become such an icon, in her old age.
I’ve tried, but I cannot find any reference to GB/PM having praised Lady Thatcher before now. Tony Blair did – often. He made no secret of his admiration for her. But Brown? Nope. He even wrote a book damning the woman. Somebody send me a link to disabuse me of this impression I had that GB/PM did NOT admire Mrs T. Please.
And it’s true that, in 1997, Mr Blair met Mrs Thatcher the day before his first visit to the Netherlands as Prime Minister prior to the Amsterdam EU Summit. However, Blair had a good political reason. He wanted to be absolutely certain of Britain’s negotiated position. And, in any case, he had often admitted admiring Mrs Thatcher, something, which I repeat, I have never heard GB/PM do, until yesterday.
And it wasn’t more than a few months ago that Lady Thatcher, in her broadcast regarding the Falklands, made it clear she was empathetic to the difficulties Blair had in deciding on Iraq.
So what is this tea & scones at number 10 about? Well, imho, it’s just one of the tactics Brown is using as part of the Big Brown Strategy for ‘Change’?
In reality there’s not a lot he can change in New, New Labour as Blair’s already done most of it. So, he has to prove all his critics wrong, show he’s an inclusive politician, not a control freak, and listen to all the voices-off.
And somehow, by virtue of that and having a low, monotone of a voice, and no charisma, he will excite us all!
Er, ye- e- e-s, as Paxman might say.
But even this inclusivity is not exactly new in New Labour. Blair, probably the most un-Labour Labour leader ever, (self confessed), did it instinctively. He was also the ONLY Labour leader EVER to win three general elections in a row.
Did you know that from 1994 – 1998, starting well before he came to power, for four years – FOUR YEARS! – Blair held secret meetings with Paddy Ashdown? They discussed their shared vision of re-uniting the Left and Centre of British politics, by an eventual merger or at least coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats after the 1997 election “whatever the majority”!
Kept that one quiet, didn’t they?
Well, Paddy Ashdown wrote it all down in his diaries, and they make interesting reading. See ‘The Ashdown Diaries, 1979 -1999’.
“BLAIR AND ASHDOWN’S PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WAS, AS THIS BOOK REVEALS, FAR CLOSER THAN THAT OF ANY OTHER TWO PARTY POLITICAL LEADERS IN TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITAIN. This makes Ashdown’s judgements about the character of the man with whom he was dealing particularly authoritative, and probably the most acute that have yet appeared in print.”
Even after the (failed) event, and Ashdown’s recent disappointment at Blair’s actions in Iraq, Ashdown still believes that Blair’s intentions were good and genuine.
They even made soundings towards like-minded Tories at the time, so were not exactly impervious to the attractions of the right-of-centre of this country’s politics. so what happened to “the project” or “the full monty” as Ashdown refers to it?
BROWN STRANGLED BLAIR’S INCLUSIVITY BABE AT BIRTH
Brown was by no means the only one not fully committed to the project. John Prescott was even less so. But for four years Ashdown & Blair invested much trust in each other and it seems fair to say that they found closer soul-mates politically in each other than in many in their own respective parties.
So why didn’t it work out if Blair & Ashdown were as committed as their four years’ conversation would indicate? Well, mainly because Labour did TOO well.
Winning in 1997 by a huge landslide, the largest ever win by Labour, Blair’s goose was effectively cooked by two Big Beasts in cabinet – Prescott and Brown! The party, they argued, would never permit it. They had won a landslide and would rule like that! Prescott admitted that if Ashdown walked into Cabinet, he (Prescott) would walk out.
Blair still wanted to continue “the project” – a measure of the man that he didn’t just say, “Sorry, Paddy, no need now.”
But rather than support Blair’s efforts, Brown just let events take their own course. He watched for 18 months into their first term of government until Blair & Ashdown were prised apart like reluctant sobbing siblings split by parents almost re-united but in reality determined to separate.
The power of the Blair-bolstered party was uncontainable even by Blair, and hardly humble.
Only the main architect and front man of that success, Tony Blair, was willing to sacrifice the heights of power.
But Brown walked away with the same thought in his back pocket; some sort of merger, or coalition of the willing, if needed, for future reference.
Yes, Brown The 2007 Inclusive, was THEN Brown the 1997 Exclusive.
Although Blair, the PM who could have been expected to wish to selfishly bask in the limelight as the sole superstar, was willing to give seats in the cabinet to Ashdown and other Lib Dems, Brown was not convinced enough to fight Blair’s corner.
Perhaps due to pressure from Prescott and the Left, and his wish to retain his Left credentials to impress the party faithful when Blair fell, (or was expected to fall), out of favour in a year or two (!)
Perhaps because Brown is, or at least WAS NOT an inclusive political animal.
But history shows that he found it a step too far and, thus, Blair’s new Lib-Lab baby was strangled at birth.
Today’s Brown is a different kettle of fish – or cup of tea.
THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION
It’s all about the next election, and how GB/PM can win it. Below is a chart of the latest projection of the results of the next general election, as at UK Elect. This projected date was 2009 / 2010. Whether an election in 2007 / 2008 (just two years after Blair’s 3rd victory) will yield the same results, is harder to know.
To think we could still have had Mr Blair as PM until 2010, if Labour, in their wisdom, hadn’t decided otherwise.
On this calculation Labour is projected to win by only 21 seats! Too close for comfort for GB/PM, I’m sure. And at 44 down from Blair’s ‘poor’ result of 2005, hardly a ringing endorsement of Brown. This might explain the hand holding with opposition members and Lady Thatcher.
|Scottish National Party||7||+1|
This is based on the assumption that the percentages used for this forecast are:
Lab 36%, Con 36%, Lib Dem 20%.
Notes: The maps, graphics, results and predictions included on this web site were all produced by UK-Elect. The forecast base was the 2005 General Election constituency situation – it should be noted that many constituency boundaries will change before the next election. A uniform percentage swing method was used, and the percentages were applied to GB constituencies only. The assumption was made that up to 10% of the electorate would be prepared to consider voting tactically against the Labour Party (Note to UK-Elect users: the simulation was set to take account of party vote transfer preferences. The number of iterations was set to 3.) No attempt was made to apply more accurate Scottish or Welsh poll percentages to the forecasting of constituencies in those areas (hence the forecasting of Nationalist gains or losses is likely to be less accurate). Results from Northern Ireland are based on those of the last election and included for completeness only. The Labour majority figure here simply excludes the speaker from the calculation (Note: normally, in the event of a tie, the Speaker will vote with the Government.)
So, without a 10 – 15% swing from Labour to the Tories, Mr Cameron’s prospects are not as yet too good. But if GB/PM waits until next spring, there may be more worries, economically or with other issues – the unions, EU constitution, to weaken Labour’s vote.
Since people vote for all sorts of different reasons, Brown’s strategy is to combine sufficient tactical moves to persuade the as yet unconvinced voters that, without Blair, Labour still has something new to offer.
So it is highly likely that Brown may win an overall majority on his own for Labour. They have to keep sweet with, well, whoEVER! Even Tories, just in case.They may expect some swing back to Labour in Scotland as the campaign progresses, especially if the pro-union parties decide to work together, tactically, which I believe they probably will. But we should remember that it is in the south of England that Labour needs to work hardest to keep its strength and seats up. The previously converted Blairites must be persuaded that Brown is just as worthy, although – different – of course!
It’s not an easy message to sell. So GB/PM has started wooing southerners yesterday by inviting Lady Thatcher back for a look around her old house.
In the meantime, the southern lurgy, foot and mouth, which last week he was pleased to say had been ‘eradicated’, has raised its ugly head!
Events, dear boy.
I’m sure David Cameron is not exactly pleased about this, as Brown tries a one-to-one bleed off of Cameron’s people. But, I foresee it bouncing back on Brown, who is much more deeply dipped in the soul of the party than was Blair. The reason they wanted Brown to replace their winner was that the winner was polluting their soul with the dreaded ‘change’ of modernity and inclusivity. Go here if you really want to understand selfless inclusivity. And find out WHO exactly stood firmly against the very idea!
Oh, how the worm has turned.
But for how long Labour’s Old Left stand silently by while Brown wears Blair’s clothes?
Well – I give it until next week’s party conference.