Hazel’s Honestyl

Hazel Blears has used the time honoured device of a “speech to her constituency” to deliver an uncomfortably honest message to her party.

My message to my colleagues is simple: get a grip. Our first loyalty is to the British people. If they think that we are more interested in our own jobs than theirs, they will not forgive us. If the mindset is all about what happens after some future election defeat, then the game’s up... All this political positioning just helps the Tories … I don’t detect a serious clamour for a Conservative election victory, people have not made up their minds, but they will if we fail to focus on protecting decent hard-working people. They will rightly think that we’ve let them down. We’ve a big job ahead of us – on the economy, on reforming the public services, on the environment. Divided parties don’t win the trust of the people.

Over on the grassroots site LabourHome there are more and more articles like Does anyone seriously expect Gordon to win?Meanwhile on the Downing Street approved LabourList, there is zero self-analysis of Labour’s problems, just tired articles by Ed Balls with headlines likeBritain is not Broken. When the Tories were in difficulties, ConservativeHome was a source of renewal and honest critical self-examination.

This lack of internal honesty when Labour is 20% behind in the polls is not going to do them any good. The fish rots from the head, with Gordon unable to admit that he did not abolish boom and bust, or in fact make any mistakes, Labour will remain on course for annihilation. Privately Labour ministers admit this, publicly apart from Honest Hazel, they pretend otherwise.

Harman Wants Brown to Sail Off into Sunset on “Lifeboat”

Jackie Ashley set the cat amongst the pigeons yesterday with this story:In it she claimed that Gordon was being lined up for an international job as a super-regulator by Angela Merkel. Jackie said the storycomes from quite close to the inner core.” Like the Deputy-Leader’s office? From another member of the sisterhood? Ben Brogan is pointing the finger at Harriet Harman, claiming that “Brown was the victim of a botched spin operation by the party’s deputy leader amid signs that his authority is weakening.” Who better to be a caretaker leader if Gordon goes off into the sunset on a lifeboat or for ill-health reasons than the current deputy leader? She could hold the party together as it takes the inevitable punishment at the polls, performing the same role that Michael Howard did for the Tories. Labour could do worse…

Clarke : Tony Wanted Me to Be Heir

Charles Clarke claims in an interview in the New Statesman that Tony Blair “wanted me to be foreign secretary because he thought that if I had been foreign secretary and home secretary I would be a credible opponent to Gordon, as the leader of the party. And this had been his long-standing strategy, and that was what he had been intending to do, and that’s what he hoped to do.”

Funny, he is rumoured to have wanted exactly the same for David Miliband. Who to believe?

Jeremy Corbyn Most Rebellious MP Again

There is something marvellously truculent about Jeremy Corbyn. He is once again, according to Philip Cowley’s analysis, the most rebellious whip defying MP. Given that part of the reason for getting rid of Tony Blair was to restore party discipline it is amusing to see that the parliamentary Labour Party is more revolting now than it was under Blair; “Gordon Brown’s first complete parliamentary session as Prime Minister, saw Labour MPs defy their whips on 103 occasions. That compares to 96 occasions in Tony Blair’s whole first Parliament.”

Download full analysis (pdf).

Hodge Quitting as Minister

Tim Walker is reporting in The Telegraph that Margaret Hodge, the Blairite culture minister and friend of Tony has had enough and will be standing down as a minister from Brown’s cabinet in the next re-shuffle.

Another day another Blairite departs.

Somebody wake McBride and tell him…

UPDATED : Who are the “Handful”?

N.B. This article was first published on the morning of Saturday, 13 September 2008, it is being updated and re-dated on a rolling basis as more names come out.

Guido has yet to see a list of the “handful” of MPs who want a leadership election. So with the help of you co-conspirators shall we compile the list? Guido will start it off:

Openly
Janet Anderson
Stephen Byers
David Cairns
Charles Clarke
Jim Dowd
Kate Hoey
Frank Field
Barry Gardiner
Ian Gibson
Mike Hall
George Howarth
Peter Kilfoyle
Fiona Mactaggart
Siobhain McDonagh
John McDonnell
Alan Milburn
Greg Pope
Gordon Prentice
Joan Ryan
Graham Stringer
Gisela Stuart

Coded
Karen Buck
Jon Cruddas
Patricia Hewitt
Kelvin Hopkins
Eric Joyce
Sally Keeble
Stephen Ladyman
Ivan Lewis
Martin Linton
Shona McIsaac
Denis MacShane
David Miliband
Margaret Moran
John Reid
Tom Levitt
Paddy Tipping

Add names and references in the comments.

UPDATE : Other likely suspects are Jeremy Corbyn, Anne Cryer, Ruth Kelly, Michael Meacher, Tessa Jowell.

UPDATE 20.30 13/9 : This represents the best information emailed in and from the news wires. Cruddas has arguably given an ambiguous steer. No doubt some left-wingers have been missed. The list has been updated throughout the day. Quite a few handfuls at the latest count. Michael White speculates that the numbers could be as many as sixty.

Rat Race Continues

The rats are bailing out of the Downing Street ship fast and furious nowadays. Last week Paul Sinclair jumped, this week it is the turn of Jo Dipple.

The Prime Mentalist’s strategic communications adviser is a former Daily Mirror journalist. She is leaving to become a lobbyist. No news on Stephen Carter’s exit, rumours still circulate in Labour circles that Maguire could succeed him. C’mon Kevin, save Gordon!

23 Requests in Total Rumoured

Tips, rumours, gossip and tittle tattle are coming in from all directions. Some are more plausible than others, here are five:
  1. Iain Martin took Guido to task for making speculative conjectures yesterday, today he speculates that John Reid could be the next Labour Party leader. Iain cites as “evidence” that Siobhain McDonagh was formerly Reid’s PPS. Conclusive? Just what the Labour Party needs as leader, another old Scot.

  2. Jack Straw has been in Vietnam over the weekend, apparently sorting out some stuff to do with judicial cooperation. A source tells Guido that this is a completely non-essential visit that could easily have been sorted out through the embassy in Hanoi. The fact that the “Lancashire Mafia” of MPs allied to Straw have broken cover when he is thousands of miles away from the “scene of the crime” can’t be a coincidence says Guido’s informant. Or perhaps it can.
  3. The number of non-awkward squad woman coming forward is evidence of the manicured hand of the sisterhood in action say some. Harman is to be the beneficiary and her husband Jack Dromey encouraged or allowed the names to come out from Labout HQ.
  4. Which leads Guido to something that had been bugging him. Dale and others say Downing Street leaked the “handful” of names. Why? That would only make sense if this was to be a spin firebreak. It isn’t, it is dangerously close to snowballing, which is why Brown is sacking anyone who is exposed as disloyal pour encourager les autres.

The tip that Guido finds the most credible is the fifth: the original leak was from within Labour HQ and there are, says the source, in total 23 requests from MPs for nomination papers. The same source says that they believe Roy Kennedy leaked the story or caused the story to be leaked. The source paints a picture of Labour HQ as thoroughly demoralised and points out that unlike the Downing Street apparatchiks, the Labour HQ apparatchiks will still keep their jobs if Brown goes. Labour HQ staff have a vital interest in the survival of the Labour Party, not the survival of Gordon.

Blairite Plotters Attack Brown’s “One-Off Taxes and Pay-Outs” Giveaways Do Not Amount to a Strategy

Progress, backed by the billionaire Lord Sainsbury, is the Blairite factional organising group in the Labour Party.

This is a statement they are releasing tomorrow* signed by a dozen Blairites – Janet Anderson, Karen Buck, Patricia Hewitt, George Howarth, Eric Joyce, Sally Keeble, Stephen Ladyman, Martin Linton, Shona McIsaac, Margaret Moran, Tom Levitt, and Paddy Tipping.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Downing Street is Running Out of Rats

Another rat is leaving the sinking Downing Street ship.  Paul Sinclair, formerly Wee Dougie Alexander’s SpAd before becoming the Prime Mentalist’s Scottish spin doctor, is jumping ship ahead of the Glenrothes by-election.  He is off to spin at Hill & Knowlton according to Paul Waugh.  
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Clarke Loses the Plot

In the New Statesman tomorrow Charles Clarke is superficially writing about the use and abuse of the term “Blairism”. The word is insulting, lazy and misleading he says, calling for an end to “deceitful nonsense”
As various commentators consider Labour’s prospects, the term “Blairite” is being deployed to characterise the policies and personalities of some who question the party’s current direction and urge Labour to face the future.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Just Like “The Thick of It”

This just in from a co-conspirator’s Crackberry:

I am en route on the 3.18 from Hull to London with two loud mouthed Labourites. Ivan Lewis, [Health PuSS] and his [researcher?].

They are deciding whether to go for a quote based on the Bevan quote that Tories are lower than vermin

“Calling Bob at the Mirror on the rats and hospitals story.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Into the Killing Zone – “Kill or Be Killed”

Fraser Nelson reckons we have entered the killing zone “Miliband has crossed the Rubicon and is now in ‘kill or be killed’ territory. And he has plenty to do if he wants to avoid the latter option.”

The Weirdo versus the Wonk

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Downing Street Rat Dashes for Cash

As Guido pointed out yesterday, the captain is taking down the Labour ship with him and as this email from Fiona Gordon (his Downing Street political secretary) shows, the rats are doing the proverbial:
Dear Colleague,

Tomorrow will be my last day as Gordon Brown’s Political Secretary.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Balls Bashes Field for Brown

Ed Balls has just given an on the record briefing to the Lobby, the subject was Frank Field’s comments re-broadcast on Today this morning:
“I think people could look at what he was saying a few weeks ago and believe at that time that his intentions were honourable.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Dave Looks to May 2 at PMQs

Yesterday Guido pointed to the 42-days vote as the post May 2 battleline for the PLP:
Guido believes that constitutionally and practically it is too late to mount a formal leadership challenge to Brown’s under Labour Party rules in time for the September conference.
[…]

+ READ MORE +



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