Courtesy : S J Howard
Gordon Brown was quoted in the Telegraph saying that he spends “every day that I wake up” trying to keep the economy on track. Does he not wake every day? Are there days where things are just too bad to get out of bed?
Last week he made two great Bushisms in his speech to the Scottish TUC:
- “I remember the 1940s.” Gordon Brown was born in in 1951.
- “The Government has done more for poverty over the past fifteen years” Yes, beginning when John Major was in charge of the government.
- He also told Sky’s Adam Boulton last week that Britain had been “diversifying into gold” by selling Britain’s gold reserves. And it was the Tories fault anyway.
- “Nelson Mandela was freed in our lunchtime.” Well, Prezza’s lunchtime…
- “Britain and China are both centres of invasion….”
Do send Guido any more Brown language mangling Bushisms to the usual Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.
At PMQs Dave called Gordon “a loser not a leader”. The hastily cobbled together deal placated Frank Field this morning and he withdrew his amendment. Apparently the sticking plaster for the lower paid will be backdated and will include “changes to the winter fuel payment system, tax credits and the minimum wage in order to compensate those losing out from the ending of the 10p rate.”
Nice and simple. Not.
Cast your mind back to last week’s U.S. trip. On the flight to Washington Gordon personally briefed the Lobby on the usual off-the-record basis that “No one will lose out.”
He dismissed Lobby hacks claims that dozens of Labour MPs were set to rebel over the issue, saying: “It is just one or two MPs asking questions.” The Mail on Sunday was not on the trip, so was not bound by Lobby terms, it accurately reported Gordon claiming
“You’re wrong. No one will lose out. Come on . . . you guys have exaggerated it all.”
When BBC political editor Nick Robinson insisted there was a sizeable Labour revolt, Mr Brown fired back*: “No it isn’t. There are just one or two MPs asking questions.”
When a journalist from a Labour-supporting paper insisted that the rebellion was far bigger, Mr Brown scowled: “Really? Really? That’s what you say.”
He was equally abrupt with ITN political editor Tom Bradby, who had asked him at the White House about the resignation threat by ministerial aide Angela Smith.
Mr Brown was forced to break off from his White House talks to beg Ms Smith not to resign. “You said a Minister was going to resign, but she didn’t,” Mr Brown told Mr Bradby.
Asked “What did Angela Smith say to you?” Mr Brown replied: “She just phoned me to say she wasn’t resigning.”
BBC Newsnight political editor Michael Crick asked sarcastically: “She phoned you up at the White House to tell you she wasn’t resigning? Do all your Ministers do that?”
Another journalist put Mr Brown on the spot: “Do you acknowledge that there will be some losers from this tax change?”
The Prime Minister replied: “No. It’s not as simple as that.”
Such was the extraordinary nature of the exchanges with the assembled Lobby that the papers, even though bound by Lobby terms, were full of phrases hinting along the lines of “PM Privately Furious” the next day. Downing Street spin officials were horrified by the disastrous briefing. The PM appeared to be either in complete denial or out of touch with reality. He was also close to losing self-control and on the edge of throwing yet another tantrum. Gordon was convinced by officials he should give another personal briefing during the trip in an attempt to repair the damage done.
Clearly if you start talking transparent bollocks to the Lobby when you are off-the-record, you will inevitably get a bad press. The whole point of the Lobby and off-the-record briefings is that they are supposed to allow candid honesty in return for non-attribution. Gordon’s psychological flaws and unwillingness to accept criticism make it impossible for him to accept that when he has made a mistake, and this was a huge mistake, he has to openly make amends. His usual bullying didn’t work in this case – he has now made a humiliating U-turn – not an act of leadership.
*Nick Robinson has obliquely confirmed the Mail on Sunday’s version of events. He blogs that “Gordon Brown had shouted down those who told him there were many many losers from his last Budget as Chancellor and those who told him he faced a real political crisis as a result.” Guido suspects that Nick himself was, as reported, one of “those” shouted down.
UPDATE : U-turn letter (pdf) here.
He has just told Brillo on the Daily Politics that he would rather support McCain against Hillary Clinton. This puts him to the right of many Cameroons…
Perhaps they need another £50 billion…
Britain is getting more and more like Zimbabwe every day, a leader afraid of elections, food prices soaring and now petrol prices jumping 25% in a week.
The Rix garage in Kirkcaldy has been charging an outrageous £1.45 a litre for diesel and £1.25 for unleaded petrol. Not that this will bother Gordon – he has never had to pay for petrol.
The Grangemouth oil refinery is on the verge of shutdown as it looks like a two-day strike by staff will go ahead this weekend.
Reports from around the country tell of queues of panic buyers worried that the 200,000 barrel-a-day Grangemouth refinery closure will force the BP Forties Pipeline System, which transfers oil from more than 50 North Sea fields, to be turned off. If the dispute lasts for more than two days Britain will run dry…
Sky’s Jon Craig, who didn’t join the Lobby to stand around in bars speculating idly, is playing What If…
- Gordon loses Monday’s vote to double the 10p tax rate on low earners on Frank Field’s rebel amendment?
- What if Ken Livingstone loses to Boris Johnson in London on May 1?
- What if Labour rebels throw out 42-day detention for terrorists next month?
The first would be a personal defeat for Brown, he introduced the 10p rate, he is abolishing it. If Londoners voted for Boris it would put real fear into Southern Labour MPs. If the third vote is lost, and most Labour Party MPs and activists don’t have their heart in needless 42-day detention, it will surely be curtains for Gordon.
Who would the PLP then want to lead them in times of trouble? Not one of the young pretenders. Jack Straw would be their Michael Howard figure. Safely captaining the sinking ship, hopefully without the loss of too many lives / seats. The PLP would vote for Jack ahead of Cruddas…
Such as: www.labour.org.uk/downingstreet.
Clever? Not really. Hacked in 30 seconds. Type in below (or something ruder) to your browser…
Hat-tip : LibDemVoice
UPDATE 17.25 : The spoilsports have blocked it now. Does Ed Balls know the party site is promoting “Excellance [sic] for All“?
UPDATE 17.45 : The geeks at Tangent, Labour’s web specialist should check this out.
Ineos Group is proceeding with the shutdown of its 200,000 barrel-a-day Grangemouth refinery as talks with unions to avert industrial action look bleak. The plant takes crude from BP’s Forties Pipeline System, which transfers oil from more than 50 North