Posted tagged ‘gordon brown’

Who’s Next In The Labour Resignation Game?

September 16, 2008

I’ll write up some more thoughts on the current drip… drip… drip… that the Parliamentary Labour Party are going though at the moment, but I wanted to point out one thing in the rapidly changing atmosphere.

Now David Cairns has gone, everyone is looking for, nay expecting someone else, slightly further up the political chain. The name Caroline Flint is being pushed in some quarters. If you, like some, are thinking that a certain Dr John Reid is behind this manoeuvring, then you would be shocked to discover who his PPS was in 2002-2003… yes, you’re right.

Caroline Flint.

Could a Glenrothes By-Election Skirmish Threaten Brown?

June 6, 2008

Rumbles today from Benedict Brogan’s Political Blog on a ‘potential’ upcoming by-election – with enough caveats about who it could be as the Member of Parliament is ill. By not mentioning who exactly it was, Brogan set the bloggers a hunting, and the evidence points to the constituency of John MacDougall MP, of Glenrothes.

If there were to be a by-election in the central Fife constituency, it should on paper be a safe seat for Labour. It’s slap bang in the natural stronghold of Fife; Glenrothes is the seat of power in the area both for the local council and Labour; and close by is Dunfermline and West Fife – likely to be the only Labour Gain once a General Election is called. There’s every likelihood that while it won’t be a family inheritance candidate such as Tamsin Dunwoody), it will be a strong, dare I say it ‘traditional’ Scottish Labour Party member (another ‘promoted’ Fife Labour Councillor in the form of Alex Rowley perhaps).

But it’s not that easy. The obvious electoral test is what happened in this constituency at the Scottish Election last year – Central Fife is the closest and saw a 7.6% swing to the SNP from Labour, and with that it was another SNP Gain. Something like a 14.5% swing (if my maths works out) would be needed for an SNP Gain (what was the Crewe and Nantwich number again?), the current majority is around 10,000. Is that do-able? In the current climate both against Labour, and with a credible by-election opposition in the SNP (who can now point to the Scottish Parliament and how ‘responsible’ they are when in power) it would be a very close run contest.

Personally I think it would still be a LAB hold, but with a much reduced majority. Even that would be a dagger in the Labour heartlands – the knives would be out for Gordon Brown if the SNP get within 1,000 votes here – who knows what would happen if they were to loose the seat. Especially as next door to Glenrothes is Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Brown’s own constituency. You’d think that an 18,000 majority would be rock solid, especially as Gagarin Way is inside the boundaries…

If there were to be a by-election, the drawbridges would have to be raised when it’s over. The friendly fire alone would require it.

Don’t Wait Dave, Go For The Kill

May 23, 2008

I’m sure there will be a lot of comment over what David Cameron and the Conservative party should do over Gordon Brown and his position as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party. There’s a strong opinion that he should ‘ease off’ on Brown because he is their best asset to win the next election.

I disagree with that.

The point of Opposition is to do just that. If there is something wrong, something that they disagree with, then they are meant to oppose it – this is their function in Parliamentary democracy. To challenge, to question and to oppose. Gordon Brown is not an effective Prime Minisiter, therefore it is their duty to continue to pressure him, and to do their bit for the country.

There’s alos the fact that this opportunity may not arise again (after all, the chance for Brown to call and iwn an election has never arisen again either) and they must not show weakness. I want to see decisive action on the part of Cameron, Osbourne, Salmond, Clegg and the other party leaders. The confidence to just go for it is one of the things that made Vince Cable the best leader the Liberal Democrats never had. Yes make sure of your ground, make sure you have the troops behind you (ahem, Wendy) but when the time is right, strike hard and fast.

If the Conservatives chicken out of taking the battle to Brown, then the may come to regret it as much as Brown’s non-election decision.

It’s All Going To Be In The Timing

May 23, 2008

When is the correct time to fire someone from a role? The generally accepted rule of thumb is “as soon as you have decided that they must go.” This question could well be on the minds of close to two hundred MPs as they try to grapple with the question of the leadership.

This is the simple maxim that Labour has to operate on. Make the decision, loud and clear, as a group. Stick with Brown, or stick the knife in Brown. But whatever they do, they have to make a positive decision quickly, and stick with the course of action. All the silly little notes of this showing indecision he who yields the knife never wins, and so on, miss one important fact.

Right now, Labour isn’t working.

And yes, I’m deliberatly aping the slogan, but it’s true. There is no trust in the party, and it stems in having no trust in the leadership of the party. Core values have been betrayed. Doubling income tax on the poorest workers? Is that really the Labour party? And will people who think that Labour is still the party of the worker listen to them on tax and spend at the General Election?

As I see it, the party should be looking at the three potential outcomes. The first is do nothing, and risk getting wiped out so disasterously that the Conservatives will have a three term run in Parliament. If they stay with Brown then this is very likely. A second outcome, which a new leader should regard as a success, is to limit losses and hand the Conservatives a Parliament with a very small majority (say 20-30 MPs) that would allow the Labour party to fight for a swift return after one term on the opposition benches.

There’s even a slim chance that a new leader could invigorate the party enough that the third outcome, a hung parliament, would be on the cards – and to be honest after the mess of Scotland under previous administrations, having the parties in the SNP minority administration working together on separate issues on a case by case basis I’d be more than happy to see that happen in Westminster.

To be effective, whoever leads the Labour party at the end of the party conference should be the one to take them to the ballot box in 2009 or 2010, and do whatever he (or she.., let’s be fair) can do to get to the most favourable outcome possible.

Look out, Gordon, there’s an Elephant in the room

May 22, 2008

I don’t think I was the only person watching Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday that knew exactly where David Cameron was leading with his “why aren’t you visiting Crewe and Nantwich” question to Gordon Brown. And there must have been a little part of him chuckling as Brown walked straight into it, with his “traditions” answer that allowed the Blair sucker punch.

Come on! This was even more obvious than a coyote pouring out a pile of “Free Bird Seed” under the Acme Road Runner Descending Cage (Patent applied for).

I can’t believe Brown didn’t see this coming. I can’t believe whoever was preparing the briefs for PMQ’s didn’t know that this was a potential line of attack and have something ready for use to at least make Cameron work to get his line out. Even a simple “unlike my predecessor I fully believe in the tradition of Prime Ministers not attending, much as the part opposite did when in power: (and then lead onto an attack on something they did in their 1979 manifesto.

A leader is also someone you can look to in times of crisis. Witness a certain Alex Fergusson after being knocked out of European and UEFA football in 2005, returning last night to a nervy, edge, very close victory. That’s a leader you could get behind and trust to make the call. Brown can’t even see a trapdoor, let alone avoid one. That’s why I don’t think he’s the man to lead the party, the Parliament, or the country.

What If Gordon Brown Is Telling The Truth?

May 15, 2008

Listening to John Humphrys interviewing Gordon Brown on Radio’s 4 Today programme this morning, I was reminded why I don’t like Brown’s style of Government and management.

Let’s start with one simple assumption. That he’s not being a typical politician. That what he is saying is true. The presumptions and predictions from the economy to public and private life in the UK and abroad are generally promising and uplifting.

But I don’t want that in a leader – not in a group, a business, or running the country. I believe that if you are in charge of anything, the most frequent question you should be asking yourself if “what if this is wrong? And if so, what will I be able to do?” There should be multiple ways forward at every point in the decision making process. Given the choice between a plan that has 100% good effects, but has absolutely no flexibility if conditions deviate from the expected, or a plan that has (say) 60% good effects if everything works as expected but can accommodate changing conditions to reduce any negative effects when it (inevitably) goes tits up, I want someone who chooses the later option.

Listening to Brown (and the members of his Cabinet) I hear zero evidence that they actually plan for the bad things to happen. The 10p income tax band doubling situation is evidence of that. Again, taking the Chancellor at his word, there was absolutely zero slack in the Budget to allow any adjustments to be made without ringing up 2.7 billion pounds of debt. More to the point, if the call on the 10p tax was really triggered by the changing international economic conditions, then the Chancellor is not even taking a short term view of ten weeks of what could go wrong and to make provisions in case of things not working out perfectly.

And the reserve cash before we hit the self imposed rule is only £100 million… which isn’t a reserve at all; it’s a single chip to tip the croupier after your gamble in Las Vegas fails. Remember I’m going on the assumption that we’re not being lied to; pop in the money in Northern Rock and the PFI’s and we’d be well over the 40% ‘maximum.’

I want a Government that believes in policies that have less reward, but that also carry less risk. There’s no replay option in real life. I want to know you’ve considered and planned for the worst case scenarios, and not just crossing your fingers that the best predictions are going to come true. I don’t get that vibe from the words or the actions of Gordon Brown and his government.

Alistair Darling’s “I’m Alright Jack” Bribe to the Middle Class

May 13, 2008

So let me get this right, we can’t re-open the Budget, we’ll look at it next year, it’s too complicated to go messing about with – but we can! Let’s just lift the personal allowance by £600, which should make up for the doubling of the basic rate of income tax for everyone… well, at least 80% of those that it made worse off.

All of a sudden we can find 2.7 billion pounds to fund a raising of the personal allowance, because thats the easiest way to get to some of the people affected by this. Yes of the 5.2 million hit by the doubling of the 10p tax band, 4.1 million will not loose out. And the other 18 odd million people who are in the £12,000 to around £40,000 annual earnings, what are we to make of the £120 going into their pocket? An early christmas present? A chance to buy an iPod?

If there was an election on the horizon, then this budget would look like a blatant come-on. I mean a General election, not jsut Crewe and Nantwich, although this may (may) act as a firebreak for Labour’s core supporters. But with the first stage of the refund, the lump sum of £60, not hitting anyone’s wage packet until September, and the likelihood that if Gordon Brown is to make way for a new Labour leader, then any post-conference bounce in the opinion polls could mean an election at the start of October. Just as everyone sees a bulge in the wage packet… Naw, it could never be that well planned.

This was a cock up. It was wrong last year when announced, it was wrong this year when it was let through, and the compromise is fatally flawed, misses the worst affected by the changes, and leaves some of the most vulnerable people in society significantly worse off (those on roughly £6,600 to around £8,000 per annum) while the middle classes get enough money to buy a posh meal and a night out.

This from a Labour government? From a government that would shout down any hint of an unfunded tax cut? Obvioulsy borrowing £2.7 billion to do this one off tweak isn’t unfunded. It’s just being paid for on the never-never. It’s tax and spend without the tax.

The double speak of “…the remaining 1.1 million households will see their loss at least halved. In other words, 80 per cent of households are fully compensated with the remaining 20 per cent compensated by at least half” is clear to the public. Over a million of the lowest paid people in the UK, at the very bottom of the income tax scale, are loosing money, while the rich are getting the full benefit of a tax cut.

PS: With roughly 600,00 households lifted out of income tax altogether, how long till this gets rounded up to “New Labour took one million households out of paying income tax altogether?”