UPDATE : Am beginning to think that Brown has been quite clever, with the return of Mandelson, he will no longer be the public’s most hated Labour politician. This is going to be more fun than an Irish wake.
Paul Mason, Newsnight’s shop steward, could barely contain his excitement last night reporting the prospect of a battered Brown introducing higher taxes on high earners, windfall corporate taxes and the expected soon to be announced “equality agenda” – in other words leveling down. This will be kamikaze left-wing stuff. Britain is already sliding down the economic competitiveness league, the Irish are welcoming FTSE 100 companies making the taxodus from HMRC’s demands. Gordon will now be weighing up a shift leftwards, to shore up his position within the party, giving some red meat to the activists and pundits like Polly Toynbee. It will be a change of policy direction based entirely on self -preservation.
He could survive the party conference whatever the polls by promising a left-wing lurch…
“I, of course, apologise for any actions or omissions on my part which contributed to the problems encountered in the Scottish elections…”
A sign of the underlying weakness of his position.
UPDATE : The Lobby today asked the PMS again “if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Douglas Alexander”. This is the formula the Lobby uses when they mean “is the PM going to sack ‘im”. Two days in a row, not a good sign…
That should be a resignation issue, but if one thing is key to understanding New Labour at the highest level, it is the putting of party interest before the national interest. That is a given in all circumstances. Soldiers die because of political expediency, hospitals are photo ops, school children are leadership campaign props and spin is the narrative reality.
Dougie Alexander is Gordon’s election co-ordinator, he co-ordinated the recently and expensively lost non-election, he directed the disastrous campaign that led to the loss of electoral control in Scotland by the Labour party for the first time in living memory. He writes pamphlets for think-tanks on how to win elections by turning political parties into “community hubs”. In his spare time he is the Minister in charge of DFID, where he oversees electoral assistance to developing countries – beyond satire.
He is an asset to Labour’s opponents and a liability to Gordon according to Labour colleagues. Hopefully Gordon will ignore the criticism because he so values Dougie’s loyalty.
Even Brownite media stalwarts like Kevin Maguire are choking on the latest Thatcherite symbolism – “The sight of her in Downing Street still turns my stomach after all these years…. It was a calculated political gamble by Mr Brown. But for a Labour PM to flaunt a Rusty Lady despised, yes despised, with good reason by Labour voters is provocative political transvestism… gut reactions still count in politics, with many Labour folk wanting to throw up.”
The GMB’s Paul Kenny reckons “This is a huge mistake which will cost Labour credibility with their voters and communities up and down the land that still bear scars of the damage she caused.” John McDonnell MP says “It is hard to imagine a greater insult to the Labour and Trade Union movement.” “Don’t forget misery Thatcher caused” rants the Mirror’s political editor Oonagh Blackman at Gordon.
Activists on LabourHome are reflective but not impressed. “Personally I’d much prefer the Government to actually start making some fundamental policy decisions instead of being in permanent campaign mode. It’s all very well having a so-called ‘big tent’ but what’s the end game?” Others complain “there does have to come a point when he stops trying to woo the right-wing and comes up with some solid policies.”
“It’s all very well inviting Thatcher around and recruiting Tory MP’s/Lib Dem MPs to head task forces. Not actually sure how it’s a vote winner down my local pub?” One disaffected activist sums up the feeling of many about Brown treating with Thatcher: “Disgusting. Insulting. He just lost us thousands of votes from Labour supporters.”
Political transvestism may seem like clever politics in Westminster, but it doesn’t go down so well with the people who got rid of Tony Blair and want Labour to return to its roots.
UPDATE : Tribune has an editorial attacking Brown.
Back in October last year Guido wrote of Tom Watson:-
“was overheard telling senior party officials in his constituency recently that he expects “to be back in government” after Gordon takes over… Gordon wouldn’t reward the treachery that he has publicly disavowed advance knowledge of and claimed he would have advised against. Would he?“
Tom got very upset and posted in the comments
For the record: I do not want to go back into government whoever leads the Labour Party. I’m very happy being a constituency MP.
10:28 AM, October 26, 2006
He went on to write
I’m an overweight opinionated member of parliament, I embarrass my relatives all the time. That was the only accurate bit of your post. But you know this.
The bit about returning to government is the inaccurate part of your post. But then I suspect you know this too. You are asking people to comment on a story that isn’t true. It doesn’t do you or political bloggers any service. Then again, why am I bothering to say this to you? You know all this as well.
But lo, the age of spin may not be completely dead. At Michael Ellam’s first briefing as Brown’s mouthpiece on Wednesday, he announced the symbolic first move in office: stopping Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell from telling civil servants what to do. When sharp-eyed and unusually on the ball Lobby hacks pointed out that neither man still worked in government, Ellam, suffering perhaps first-day nerves, conceded: “It is a meaningless gesture.”
This is not quite how the exchange is reported on the No. 10 website, though:
“Put to him that the Orders of Council applied to just two people, one who had already gone and one who effectively went today, and did not actually apply to anyone else, the PMS replied that while this was technically correct, this was not a meaningless gesture.”
If Mr Ellam dares to contradict Guido there is a recording…
Gordon’s offer of a peerage was enough to get him go over to the dark side and join a government with no business nous whatsoever.
“I believe that provided we hold our nerve in the reform and change programme, provided we go to New New Labour if you like, and don’t retreat from New Labour, we will come through this with the renewed sense of leadership and energy and drive that we need”