YouGov’s poll for the Sun was obviously taken this was before today’s fun and games…
Ed Balls just said he was “getting on with the job”, which today was meeting with the Fonz. The PM we are told was also “getting on with the job”. Mandelson unenthusiastically says “No-one should overreact to this. The Prime Minister continues to have the support of colleagues”. Alan Johnson said “Gordon Brown is the best man to lead the Labour Party.” No word so far from the woman yet…
CCHQ is watching developments with a mixture of excitement and fear. The last thing they want is to see Gordon ousted before the election…
Guido strongly believes that one of the strategic calculations made by the Tories that determined their decision to start the election campaign on Monday was to deliberately make it more difficult to dump Gordon. It would be argued internally in the Labour Party, Tory strategists hoped, that they couldn’t dump Gordon in the middle of an election campaign. It was not as if Clarke’s crew hadn’t clearly signalled at Christmas their intention to make one last attempt to oust Brown…
Back in 2008 after a few bruising PMQs when Gordon was looking wobbly, Team Cameron deliberately pulled their punches for fear of destabilising Gordon too early before an election. They know that their best hope of a landslide is if Gordon leads the Labour Party to a crushing defeat at the general election. Gordon will cost Labour MPs their marginal seats which could be otherwise be saved with any other Labour leader…
Guido was reporting rumours that a cabinet minister was going to call for Brown to go last night. Bad day for Nick Robinson, at midday he dismissed the rumours as “the madness we might get into with blogging and tweeting” on the Daily Politics.
With all his authority he definitively told viewers that there was no plot and nothing going on. The Guardian‘s Andrew Sparrow had the first squeak of the story at quarter past, Guido had the letter just after half past and yet it takes another half an hour for the BBC‘s Political Editor to break the fact that MPs might be texting each other:
The BBC’s News & Current Affairs operation costs taxpayers billions…
You read it here first:
As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.
Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.
This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.
In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt
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At 10.30 this morning we will have the first auction of government debt this year. Gilts are ticking down* a little as the market awaits the outcome of the sale. Mandelson is being wheeled out today to say that – shock, horror – the First Lord backs government policy; emphasising spending reductions, tax increases and reducing the deficit, all to reassure the bond markets.
At the same time Alastair Darling is introducing a Fiscal Responsibility Bill, to be debated today, in the latest effort to reassure investors after Darling in 2008 scrapped rules to contain the deficit, he now repents:
“Whatever the economic circumstances, whatever the government, we need rules and objectives to govern fiscal policy… It is important we have that discipline.”
You can say that again. Spending prolifically in the credit-boom years wasn’t prudent, it was reckless fiscal madness. It was Brown’s delusion. We really need to go further and introduce a balanced budget law, forcing the government to live within its means. Today’s auction of £4 billion of gilts will cover a week of government overspending under the Brown and Balls economic plan. The reality is we need to control spending as soon as possible.
Creating spend / cut dividing lines is crass partisanship, not working in the national interest…
*Guido is short the market.
Here is another evidence-based chart you won’t see elsewhere; it shows how much taxpayers are forced to give to Anjem Choudary – the extremist cleric who wants to lead a protest march through Wootton Bassett. He claims £25,740 in benefits to subsidise his hate preaching. Guido questions how he can be seeking work when he spends all his time rabble rousing in broadcast studios and on demonstrations. In contrast a frontline soldier, fighting Choudary’s taliban allies in Afghanistan, takes home £17,004 for risking his life. If that private is killed in combat, his widow and children would have to live on a pension less than Choudary gets.
Why are British taxpayers paying their enemies more than their soldiers? Is Choudary really actively seeking work? The evidence suggests he has other priorities – so stop his benefits…