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Monday, 22nd September, 2008

ADMIN USE ONLY | 16:55 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008

Here's Jeremy Paxman, with more details about tonight's programme:

The Book of Common Prayer talks about God being present wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. Perhaps there is some comparable belief in politics. But, thus far, the Labour conference in Manchester seems to me to be distinctly lacking in whatever it is that moves upon the face of the deep. To call it subdued would be unkind to dudes.

At the risk of courting that wonderful disdain that passes across the faces of policy-wallahs when you ask them 'So, is Gordon going to survive?' (after which they sigh, look at you pityingly, and say something along the lines of 'why are you people in the media only interested in personalities, instead of the issues?'), the only question anyone is asking is precisely that.

Except they're not asking it. Not in public at least.

Because there is no obvious contender to wrest the leadership from him, the party seems to have decided to pretend there isn't a problem.

To some extent, the Bonfire of the Vanities which engulfed the world financial system has done Gordon Brown a favour: why change leader when what's needed is a massive dose of stability?

The Chancellor's speech this morning was all about how the government is handling the crisis, and will continue to handle it.

There could be two possible dangers for Brown in this approach, which we'll explore tonight.

Firstly, is it really a brilliant tactic to make your survival dependent upon the capitalist system not having another collective fit?

The second is the flip side of the phenomenon from which the Brownites have drawn such comfort. It is true that there is no named contender trying to knock him off his perch (although watch David Grossman tonight to see how David Miliband's spent the day).

But there is certainly anxiety right across the party. Just because it has - right now - no specific focus doesn't mean it has no existence. One might equally say that when such a proportion of the party has become disillusioned, for a variety of reasons, it poses a greater danger than someone with ambition merely chancing their arm.

Churchill once pushed a plate aside, saying 'this pudding has no theme'. What theme might Brown find tomorrow? The pollster Frank Luntz will give him some ideas of how he might inspire his party with the conviction that it still has a clear purpose.

In the meantime, we shall hear on the programme from John Prescott and Ed Miliband on what they think he should do.


  • Comment number 1.

    What theme might Brown find tomorrow? Perhaps Brown should stick with your God theme - being a son of the manse - and ask all delegates to pray for divine intervention. After all - nothing is impossible, miracles just take a bit longer.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dudes in the same sentence as the Labour party? Ha ha ha ha!!! As long as we don't have Ed Balls (or Hairy Old Balls in a ten year old's shorts - as seen in today's papers) on I'll be happy. Well the bookies think GB is going by December, and no-one else is convinced he's going to stay.Looks llike Frank Luntz will certainly have his work cut out!

  • Comment number 3.

    Ha ha ha - the Labour party and dudes in one sentence! I would be amazed to see how anyone, let alone Frank Luntz, would be able to convince anyone Labour would win the next elecion. Perhaps he's going to hypnotise them!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I dont really understand the medias obsession with Brown's future. The problem isnt about Brown or at least not directly.

    The public have become used to bg government and the idea that it can solve all of the nations ills. This is a labour party core value which most definitely can cut two ways.

    The mature observer will of course realise that this is a fallacy some issues are so large and so strong that the nation state cannot isolate its populace from them.

    Like any spoilt child however who has its favourite toys taken from it, the great british public need someone to lash out at.

    The brown administration is not in reality the worst administration since Pol Pot or Gengis Khan but expectations were higher and hence disapointment greater.

    The problem is not really one of his presentational skills. If it were a quick fix replacement would be attractive and would I am sure happen.

    The problem is coming up with a realisitic set of policies that can once again capture the publics imagination and once again reassure the public that it is safe and secure whilst allowing it to feel good about itself aka social justice and the rest.

    That was the trick Blair managed for 10 years and it is what Brown needs to achieve albeit admidst the greatest econonmic crisis since the 30s

    I am a paid up member of the labour party and even I dont believe he can pull it off. The point is though I dont believe anyone within the labour party could. I certainly dont believe the alternatives in Clegg or Cameron are even a country mile within the answers either though.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mr Brown's survival so far has depended on the failure of capitalism etc, surely, -Ed? This has been GB's "Falklands"-? So GB/AC will borrow £100bn - until after the next election (when either Labour or the Tories will have to put up taxes in order to repay it?) That gives us all just about two years to leave this country?! By the way, what has been going on in the City looks an awful lot like pyramid selling? Wasn't this outlawed years ago?

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm sick and tired of the media banging on about Gordon Brown and whether he is going to survive! The media clearly wield too much power and, what's worse, the majority of the great British public swallow it hook, line and sinker.

    I'm not a Labour supporter (that was knocked out of me when Blair entered an illegal war and was complicit in killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children). However as a dispassionate bystander I believe that the Labour government have served this country well. Of course mistakes have been made; they are human like the rest of us. But, despite the global financial difficulties, many good things have happened for the citizens of this country. Can we never be satisfied?

    Love, Light and Peace


  • Comment number 7.

    The way I see it - the banks have built castles in the air, the government has taken a mortgage out on them and the public will be paying off the loan for decades to come. If GB is honest about the situation tomorrow I'll promise to vote for him at the next election - the first time in my life I will ever have voted Labour.

    Of course, these are truly awful times for the man in charge, but doing the right thing is what we expect him to do. Whether he gets voted in again is a completely different matter. Heroism is not a vote winner.

  • Comment number 8.

    Churchill also famously found a maggot in his kipper! Gordon Brown is toast ...........

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't believe that the Labour Government has served this country well.

    They've borrowed and borrowed to such an extent that the national debt (including pension shortfalls) totals over £1 trillion. We have no real industry to speak of, and the government is finding itself presiding over an essentially service based economy, which is not conducive to growth.

    At the same time we are now more dependent than ever to foreign nations for fuel, who given the current climate are inevitably going to be increasing their prices over the winter. Should we have a particularly cold winter there will be a lot of vulnerable people who will suffer.

    What we need is a change of government, that will be prepared to promote industry and the entrepreneurial spirit with tax breaks to restore confidence in the economy, bring investment and jobs back to Britain and let the world see that we are a country worth being included in the G8 on our own merits rather than just a puppet controlled by the USA.

  • Comment number 10.

    "2 or 3 gathered" Jeremy?? A bit of an iffy use of what was a biblical quotation from a passage in the lectionary a couple of weeks ago (Mt 18: 19-20). It may or may not appear in BCP as I'm minister of a church that dissented 300yrs ago I'm not that bothered if it does.

    God is generally declared to be omnipresent so it doesn't need 2 or 3 to gather, wherever you are God is there. However the proper use of the passage might apply to the concept of party politics, it really is about being united in agreement (it follows on from what to do when folk are doing things out of turn). If a meeting of followers of Jesus are all in agreement (even a small meeting) then the Lord is saying it is as if they know his mind, therefore the matter is right, or the prayer will be answered.

    How likely are we to have unity at this Labour conference (or any party conf). There is a vast amount of disagreement with the leader. What is milliband up to? The way to get a cheer would be to call for a windfall tax on energy companies, but the chancellor wont do it (or isnt allowed to). Elements of 10p Tax fallout remain as do the issues of stop the war, Trident, Nuclear power, airport expansion etc.

    What the party needs to win the next election is divine intervention, but there's little enough faith in many churches let alone politics for that to happen.

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course Labour are subdued. They are unable to get passed the questions about Gordon Browns Leadership. Every item about the government is about the leadership. What ever anybody does or says you will not let them move on.
    Of course things are bad,people are unsettled. David Milliband is probably is trying to increase his profile. Any ambitious person would do this. He can still be loyal at the same time. The two are not incompatible.
    I have just heard a ludicrous discussion(on the 10) about Milliband and his 'Heseltine moment'. An off the cuff private comment is interpreted as treason. Absolute rubbish. Take it as it was said. Milliband had to ensure that his speech did not overshadow that of the leader or concentrate too much attention on himself. I would say that that is a wise, intelligent and common sense comment.It also loyal.
    All groups of powerful, ambitious and egotistical people will have internal tensions.Get over it.
    There is a global financial crisis,South Africa could be in crisis, Bolivia is in crisis, Pakistan is heading towards a major crisis and all you are concerned about is the fact that cabinet ministers are saying that they need to give Gordon Brown their support over the next few weeks- what only the next few weeks does that mean that they will unseat him after a month?????
    We need intelligent political debate therefore let people say what they want in their own words and don't punish them if they use the word 'may' rather than 'will'. Put the dictionary away. Have a political debate not a debate on semantics.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ Flipper_the_Hedgehog

    The 'entrepreneurial spirit' hardly re-built British industry in the 80's or renewed the public services in the 90's. Our percentage of public debt is still lower than John Major's government.

    I think the credit crisis and banking crisis is sending a political earthquake out that neither of the major parties can really address. The old idea that you can further reduce regulation and it boosts growth at no cost has been completely discredited. Even despite the crisis, climate change has been the market's largest 'failure' (to use Stern's words) and will require massive social/industrial change that means the market will need direction to produce a swift outcome. The Conservative attitude to leave it to the market wont address these problems. Likewise, when the state doesn't even believe in its own legitimacy to act (as under Labour), no decisive action can come from the state, that sends the clear signals for the direction we need to go in.

    As much as the banking crisis is a market failure, it is a failure of Democracy to have allowed itself to be co-opted by concentrations of money and power. There needs to be a democratic renewal if the market is to be tamed. Commerce is nothing if it is not shaped by civilization.

  • Comment number 13.

    John Prescott is amazing - he's looking so young! Compared with the greying Paxo, it's clear JP has a picture of Dorian "Prescott" Gray in his attic.
    For just one brief moment I wondered if JP was dyeing his hair. But surely this mench amongst men would not bother with such vanity. All the passion he's experienced in Office has cleary been beneficial. Paxo should clearly be asking JP questions about youthful rejuvenation and skip the boring political ones. Anyone agree?

  • Comment number 14.


    In all the debate about Gordon - his character and his ability - one thing, surely, defines both: the 10p fiasco. In politics it always seems to come back to 'fool or knave'; and here we are again.

    If Gordon believed, for a year or more, that the removal of the 10p band was a master stroke, then all that hype about him being a 'great Chancellor' is rubbish - he is a fool.

    If Gordon knew the 10p removal would hurt a lot of the low paid, but thought no one would notice - he is both fool and knave.

    If Gordon was so enamoured of it, as a Budget stunt (as the truly evil grin on his face indicated at the time) then he is, indeed, a knave.

    With Andrew Marr, Gordon made a mealy-mouthed acknowledgement of the 10p debacle and tomorrow, it is said, he will apologise. But let him EXPLAIN HIS THINKING and his actions, and if it makes no sense, let him follow Blair into shame and ignominy, reserved for leaders who would deceive us.

  • Comment number 15.

    happyRandomThinker @ #13 - John Prescott young looking? I think you need to adjust your tv set or get new glasses! Either that or you're John Prescott :p

    Loved the interviews with Ed Miliband when he accused Jeremy of doing a Paxmanesque question! Ha ha ha.

  • Comment number 16.

    What wont Gordon mention in his speech ?

    The Fuel Escalator
    Crime and Early Release For Prisoners
    Bank Regulations He Brought In
    Boom and Bust
    Average Household Debt
    Government Debt (Including PFI and PPP)
    Social Mobility
    Immigration and Lacks Borders Controls
    Positive Discrimination and Political Correctness
    West Lothian Question
    NHS Post Code Lottery
    Lisbon Treaty
    Balance of Trade Figures
    Postal Voting
    UK Energy Security
    Private or State Pensions
    Political Party Funding Reform
    Government Data Security

    I'll probably think of some more subjects once I hit the Post Comment button.

  • Comment number 17.

    you got a lot in there Steve-London.

    I would remove the fuel escalator because cameron is not going to change it. And there i stop because i'm starting to think seriously about the Cameron vote, and I honestly don't know what he stands for.

    Cameron now has to start talking about what exactly he plans to do in office, rather than just waiting for Brown and Co to mess up! Because much like Major and Kinnock, the coronation won't happen if he has no policies and people err on the side of caution.

    I'm praying for a hung parlaiment. so i get to see the biggest push-me-pull-you in history.
    In truth i can't see anything else happening at the next election.
    Labour are woeful, the Conservatives are Arrogant and without substance. And the Liberal democrats are about as appealing as a naked swim in the arctic circle.

  • Comment number 18.

    in your leader 'what we need now is a massive dose of stability' except that Gordon doesn't do stability...he said he did, with all that prudence stuff but in reality he let banks get away with economic murder. Don't let the fox get the chickens when Brown is the mega-fox. He says he is a firm that the firm hand of whacking the low paid with ten pence tax hike's and let a privatised bank get public money to survive, is that firm government? He is toast and he knows it, but the last thing Labour needs is a whiff of Miliband, either of them. Their fathjer would spin in his grave if he knew how they had sold out to NuLabourism i.e. TORY. What a legacy.

  • Comment number 19.

    'Let them watch Pinter... online'

    Gotta say, the latest from the Marie Celest... er... Brownette 'bright idea a day' crew seems a winner.

    Except, possibly with almost the entire electorate a wee bit keener on dealing with a few basics than yet more over-spun, over-hyped tinkering that most likely will never happen (at least I never seem to get informed officially) anyway.

  • Comment number 20.

    The blue-pill-Prescott has got a fan on here... either that or it's his secretary.
    "shut that bloody door!"

  • Comment number 21.



    Fuel Escalator

    Actually the Conservatives did say they want to change it, they said in the House of Commons that they would vary it, depending on the world oil prices. It would lower itself when prices are high and increase again when world oil prices are lower, so there would Not be a windfall for the HM Treasury when oil prices spike high.

    Still it's the Conservatives Conference next, will it be -

    "Change we can believe in" ?

  • Comment number 22.

    I am astounded at the brass faces of those 'of labor' MP's that have consistently supported Tory Blair's (son of Thatcher) policies (including the illegal war). They now have the audacity to blame a colleague (you can tell a colleague by the number of knives sticking out of their back just how respected they are) for policies that they voted for.
    When I listen to the tripe being spouted at the 'noo labor' conference it obvious that non of those yahoos have an inkling about what hurts ordinary people. If the do have some idea, they are more cynical than even an old cynic like me could have imagined.
    Sean Appleby-Simpkin Labour (not noo labor).


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