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Friday, 2 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 2 May 08, 05:38 PM

"Gordon shouldn't smile - it looks unnatural"

gordon_brown203.jpgThat was the advice from one former minister last week. Today, he bravely attempted one, as he admitted to a 'night of disappointment'.
If ever there was a day our Mystery Cat would have preferred to be elsewhere, it was probably now. And indeed, if there was ever a day Labour colleagues would have preferred him to be elsewhere, it was probably now.

The local elections results in England and Wales show meltdown for Labour - with the party pushed into 3rd place. And as we await the results of the London Mayoral Race - the hottest ticket in town - might Ken kick that Mystery Cat where it hurts?
So what of the Boris and Ken race? Well as I write, rumours abound and fact is scarce - the counting is only half done.

Some commentators predict a landslide for Boris. Some predict we may not even know the results until after we go on air this evening. Significantly, no one has predicted a landslide victory for Ken but all that could change. We'll bring you the key players and the analysis right here.

And what of the Tories? A momentous night - with a projected share of the vote of an impressive 44%.

Tonight we'll ask whether this is the beginning of the serious climb back for the Conservatives. Could a win for Boris prefigure a win for David Cameron? Are voters in London 'trying out' Tory leadership to see what it feels like after all this time?

Michael Crick, David Grossman and Paul Mason will take us around the country, to Old Labour heartlands, new Tory and Lib Dem gains, and of course inside City Hall in London to gauge the political climate exactly 11 years to the day since Labour came to power.

Join us at 10.30pm on what has been a truly extraordinary day for British politics.


  • Comment number 1.


    Why are smiles like old soldiers? They never die, they only fade away. If Gordon CHOSE to do that grimace, he is really short of self- understanding. If someone else told him to do it, they must really hate him.
    Next time you pass a friend in the street and smile, count how long it takes for your face to return to neutral - THAT'S a smile.
    But it doesn't stop there. Remember the charlatan Blair? That damned grin? Then there is Hazel Blears - oh no, now I am visualising! It is all part of the political malaise; sitting comfortably with the technique they all share of answering questions by not answering, and defending the indefensible leader like zombies.
    Politics - party politics - selects its own awful specimens for their horrible attributes and offers them to us as rosette-stand pseudo-candidates. The only way to get free of these ghastly ciphers is to SPOIL PARTY GAMES! Don't vote rosette, vote person, vote independent.

  • Comment number 2.


    Has anyone checked Ken's emails for contact with Mugabe?

  • Comment number 3.

    There could be one asking Mugabe to handle the London count barrie.

  • Comment number 4.

    Brown's problem is that he does not have a mandate to govern - from anyone. In any normal democracy he would have to call
    an immediate election. The comparison
    with John Major in 1995 is being made -
    but Major did actually win back in 1992.

    Brown is in uncharted territory - and he
    lost Scotland 12 months ago remember.
    No wonder Yvette Cooper - who must
    surely also now go over the 10p tax
    Balls-up along with her hubby - was
    wearing black on Channel Four News.

    It is a real shame too for Livingstone.
    He should have stuck to his guns and remained an independent. He might
    then have remained London's mayor.
    Even Brown's backyard in Dunfermline
    fell to the Lib Dems in the by-election.
    And Labour is toast here in Scotland.

    When even Merthyr isn't sticking with
    the Labour Party the game is a bogey.

  • Comment number 5.


    Suddenly the penny dropped! In his dying days, Blair stood at the despatch box and referred to Gordon as a clunking fist. At the time, I could not connect the two. Now it occurs to me that this is probably a ploy to be found in Machiavelli's "The Prince".
    It might read like this: "A prince, wishing to bring down an enemy, yet remain innocent of attack, may elevate him in the eyes of the ordinary people in a way that he can never achieve. Thus the enemy is made to seem foolish and inept when he fails to meet expectation."
    Meanwhile I predict Gordon will be looking for "High profile initiatives with my name on." Does that sound familiar? Wonderful ideas to endear himself such as a free "GB" dummy for every newborn. He will, of course, fail to spot the "dummy" gaffe.

  • Comment number 6.

    Fantastic Newsnight tonight.

    A few days capped by a quite exciting evening of 'to the wire' uncertainty. Thanks to the BBC I was on the edge of my seat right to the very end, as it was never clear who might triumph between Mr. Livingstone and Mr. Johnson.

    In fact thanks to most of the post-mortem interviews I'm still not sure the right fellow won, as a succession of lads and ladies were trotted out to explain that it was all the fault of everyone and everything but the fact that a majority of the electorate provided their democratic votes not to Labour and then Mr. Livingstone, and for all manner of reasons that were nothing to do with the possible reason these free-willed individuals were being presented with options they didn't fancy very much any more from the incumbents.

    A rather extraordinary display of what some in power and the media can let slip, if things don't go the way they think is better for the electorate.

    But this has all certainly captured the imaginations of all those interested in news, political directions and debate. Just look at these pages: in some cases, over 10 posts!!! Didn't get that in the old, slow news days, eh?

    ps: Just wondering, in all the excitement, and in light of the BBC's concerns on FaceBook privacy, if there was ever an answer I might have missed to Chlo_F's query on the new blogging system's security towards the end of this thread a wee while ago (not sure how to ensure the link works either any more):

    Tx in advance.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Further to my earlier post, prior to No7, I'd also love to be reminded about what guides the pre-moderation, and how it is consistently applied.

  • Comment number 9.

    Observer Sunday

    Going Down :

    Jeremy Vine

    It was one of those magic television moments where any sense of sanity vanished. Vine, left, for reasons best known to himself, dressed up as a cowboy, adopted an American-ish accent and started shooting at virtual politicians. Priceless.

  • Comment number 10.

    remember when Blair and Brown would cringe at the mention of Red Ken. It was all so un-NuLabour. He was an electoral liability, he would mislead the party, he was a leftist oik and all the other uncharitable things the NuLabour machine said about him. How things have changed. Brown dragged Ken down. As if Ken would go along with the ten pence fiasco, the PFI deals on the underground, the wasteful Iraq war debacle. No, Brown was the embarrassment not Ken. The good grace of Livingstone made him utter one of the most diplomatic sppeches in defeat. Me,? I would have let rip.

  • Comment number 11.

    SIR KEN?

    I can only assume Ken is going for the knighthood.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Order of Merit has a better ring to it .....
    Ken Livingstone .... OM ... but one of them would probably have to bump off Maggie
    Thatcher as their ranks are limited to 24!

    As for Gordon Brown - I've just been reading over again his interview with
    Andrew Marr to check that he really
    did say:

    "You know I come from a pretty ordinary background .... we as a family felt under
    pressure when the economy was going
    through difficult times. I understand what people are thinking and I understand what people are feeling. And I believe that I'm the right person to lead people through this."

    But Gordon is of course famously "a son of the manse" ie no housing worries at all in his youth - no negative equity, no mortgage to pay except perhaps on his student flat in Edinburgh where he took in lodgers - Nigel Griffiths (now an MP) and Murray Elder (now a Lord) and entertained Princess Margaret of Romania. Reports suggest it was not the tidiest of crashpads - but then back in those days he couldn't claim thousands of pounds
    to get in a cleaner - as his MP's expenses show he did with his flat in London (which was identified for him by Geoffrey Robinson).

    Not much evidence here, then, of shared experience with the rest of Britain on the housing front?

    When it comes to petrol prices, too, he is not exactly a typical consumer either. His
    rubgy injury to his eye means that he has
    never driven a car. He now has a chauffeur and a limousine - paid for by the taxpayers.

    These comments may seem slightly cruel - but this is a man who chose to kick the poor in his last and omitted to mention the 10p tax issue until confronted with losing his party and his job in a Commons rebellion.

  • Comment number 13.


    Never! I'm going for unkind truth:


    “If you would speak with me, first define your terms.” (Voltaire)

    Mendacious: Prone to lying at any time.

    Puppet: A person whose own being is over-ridden.

    Faustian Pact: The exchange of integrity for power.

    Once upon a time, political parties had ideals (although they struggled to achieve broader altruism). They were known to stick to core beliefs and “go down with the ship”. All that has gone. Today, the “parties of power” will move their credo to where the votes are – changing the bait to match the tastes of poor fish - the voters.


    The loss of integrity, both in parties and in party-politicians, is absolute. Individual stirrings of conscience at blatant deception, personally enacted, are suppressed in the name of THE PARTY – an archetypal Faustian Pact.

    By the time the Blair dazzle had faded, many were wary of what was to come. Captain Brown came – with his moral compass – and proceeded to collide with every reef, jetty and sandbank in the Seven Seas of governance; not Mr Bean but Mr Bump. The deceit was palpable – we became ANGRY about deception. But New Labour’s carefully schooled mouthpieces insist on telling us that, actually, we are FRIGHTENED about the economy, and they understand our FEAR. Thus is our anger belittled and goes disingenuously un-addressed. We are misguided children.
    ANGER at New Labour/Blair/Brown has, by reaction, improved the Tory/Cameron fortunes, yet their dissemblers, in turn, assure us we are actually DELIGHTED with golden Tory promise. Spin is alive and “sick-well” in Britain – 1984 is upon us.

    There you have the whole tawdry sham in a nutshell. SPOIL PARTY GAMES.

  • Comment number 14.

    Cloth eared ( allegedly listening ) Brown is hardly likely to regain the trust of the low income electorate if he is still determined to proceed with corporate Nazi ideas like " pay as you throw " rubbish collections. Likewise funding for the development of " Spy in the Sky " road charging, Mr. Manchester Congestion Charge got his arse kicked in the local elections, only managing fourth after the Tories in his once cast iron Labour Salford seat. Many of the current corporate Nazi orientated initiatives like fining people for overfilling or simply putting the wrong type of rubbish in would become redundant if local councils opted for incineration, the only sane method of waste disposal. Perhaps the hedge funds are riding on the technology for many unpopular policies and as usual Brown has to do the bidding of the stock market parasites who pull his strings.

    Not really on original topic but it would appear that according to Greenpeace ( the only alleged eco-group to have the decency to reply ) the eco-fascists support pollution generating traffic calming in the belief that they can " irritate " drivers out of their cars and onto the trains, at least a few anyway. Irritated people are more likely to drive aggressively and tend to concentrate on negotiating the obstacle rather than the wider street picture any any potential hazards which may stray into their path.
    The installation of traffic is probably the key step towards a residential area becoming totally run down and lawless. By deterring regular through traffic ( probably including police ) from the streets criminals have more opportunities to commit crime without detection. Gangs of youths are more likely to congregate and cause trouble if they don't need to keep a sharp lookout for traffic. The evidence must show that almost all current derelict slum areas have one thing in common, namely traffic calming installed at some point over the last 15 years.

  • Comment number 15.

    Suffering for the lack of the old preview !

  • Comment number 16.

    Perhaps brossen99 could have been more succinct by saying that the re-introduction of a subsidised , integrated rail and bus network is what he/she meant . Just like the reversal of all the Tory policies the Labour Party was elected for in 1997 which is what the people wanted.
    Sadly all we got was ten years more - and even greater Toryism than before.

  • Comment number 17.


    Jabber_jabber seems to be the only blogger now achieving posting on the Blog Network (found by clicking on the poster’s name). This facility should be re-titled Brigadoon, it has come and gone so repeatedly.
    You are so right to point out the "Kelly Watershed" jj, the BBC are now fearful, just as our democratic servants intended they should be. Where do we impotent punters turn now?


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