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By-election reactions

Nick Robinson | 13:06 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

Crewe: By-elections don't change governments. However, how parties react to by-elections can change governments.

David Cameron and Edward TimpsonThe self-proclaimed "heir to Blair" is trying to use the Crewe and Nantwich result to declare New Labour dead and at the same time he is trying to claim leadership of the Blair coalition for himself.

"I think what happened was that, for Labour, it was the end of being the party of aspiration, it was the end of being the party of opportunity: it was the end of New Labour."

David Cameron knows that what brought him victory this morning was the willingness of non-Tories to give him a chance or, at least, to lend him their vote. Expect him to continue his strategy of "love bombing" (as they call it in Tory HQ) those who traditionally protest by voting Lib Dem.

Gordon Brown's response has been a version of that old Clinton cliche "It's the economy, stupid". He's promising action to relieve the financial pressure voters are feeling. One cabinet minister told me that he's got to stop talking about the need for "a five-year tractor plan" and promising that "whatever happens you get tractors" - in other words, less talk about the long term and more action now.

The danger for the prime minister is this. If, once he's told people he's listening, and once he's told them he feels their hurt, and once he takes action, things don't get better for Labour some may conclude that "It's the leadership, stupid". Another cabinet minister shocked me by comparing Mr Brown with Michael Foot and expressing regret that the party had never had the courage to remove Foot.

There will be no leadership challenge now. There may never be one. If, however, Gordon Brown doesn't learn the right lessons from this by-election he would be unwise to assume that no-one would dare try.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Nick,

    RE: The Labour Leadership

    Serious question – which up and coming minister of genuine substance would currently want the job?

    Imagine the scenario. Even if Brown volunteered to go [unlikely] and a bloody leadership contest was thus avoided - the new incumbent would face a clarion of calls to hold an immediate General election. After all, would the public really stomach consecutive unelected PM’s?

    Refusing to hold a vote, would poison any potential honeymoon, acquiescing to such a request, could be terminal. Against the current economic backdrop, the best our new PM could hope for is a waver thin majority. Four or five years, of fighting off inevitable rebellions, an uncertain economic climate etc… hardly conducive to a successful Premiership.

    Surely any aspiring cabinet minister would be better off, bidding his time and taking the reins after a 2010 General Election defeat?

  • Comment number 2.

    #1 - Of course you're right, none of them will. Maybe you'll get someone like a Michael Howard character prepared to take the reins to limit the damage at the next election. But the serious leadership contenders (Millibands, Balls (heaven help us all), etc will all try to melt into the background until the dust has settled on Gordon's demise.

  • Comment number 3.

    Completely agree, the one thing GB has on his side, the fact nobody else want's this posion chalice.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Nick,

    One other final point - can the Labour Party actually afford the financial cost of a leadership contest? Especially if it led to a General Election within six months?

    Just a thought!

  • Comment number 5.

    The government is rumbled and people are not going to be fooled any more by it.

    No amount of spin is going to conceal the fact that ten years of soaring taxation under Brown have brought mostly personal misery. There is very little to show for it in health, education crime, transport infrastructure, penal policy.

    The choice is between paying through the nose for public services and not getting, or not paying for them and not getting them.

    In the threadbare economic conditions which Labour traditionally passes on people are ready to adopt the latter.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't think anybody will want to pick up the chalice either. This leaves our dear leader in a position to do pretty well as he likes, he can't get any more unpopular and nobody wants the job. If he wants to put through a few unpopular measures now is the time to do it. Help !

  • Comment number 7.

    Labour lost touch with their roots and took their "cultural" voters for granted. Result - alienation.

    Unfortunately, this is the same mistake the Conservatives made before them. (Remember "safe" Cheltenham, anyone?).

    Tony C will have to do better than simply take over the Tony B fan club if he is to get *his* alienated voters back.

  • Comment number 8.

    You just have to contract Gordon Brown's responses with Camerons to see the problem.

    Cameron entered into a natural dialog with his audience.

    Gordon sounded like one of his ministers trotting out pre-defined sound bites and phrases about the performance of the government.

    Funny how Gordon says that he 'listens' but always ends up getting the 'message' that he wanted to address all along.

    Will this government ever stop trying to tell us what we are unhappy with (i.e. "what the public are worried about is..."); and start genuinely listening to what we are unhappy about?

  • Comment number 9.

    From a neutral. Gordon Brown is a poor leader and communicator. Perhaps a nice guy with a temper. He has avoided and has no electoral mandate (no general election in 2007), has lost policy vision with crisis management and centralist solutions. The wheels have come off his government. He has / is condemming his party to 4 years in opposition. 10pThere is no way back; whether new leader or general election! Its gone too far and like the Titanic, some now blindly clinging to the helm for power, others manning the lifeboats.

  • Comment number 10.

    The trouble for Labour is not necessarily no one wanting to replace the cowardly one, but that there's no obvious replacement. For more than ten years Labour has been all about two men, no one else got a look in, which means the rest of the cabinet is just a collection of non-entities.
    I watched Question Time a couple of weeks ago (the one with Heseltine on) and the Labour guy was talked of as a "future leader", but I'd never heard of him. He's a cabinet minister, I believe, but I'd forgotten his name about thirty seconds after the programme ended.
    Mind you, I suppose it's to his advantage that I can't remember his name, since the names of cabinet ministers I can remember is largely due to their stupidity making an impact on me, such as Harman, Blears, Balls and Darling.

  • Comment number 11.

    From a neutral. Gordon Brown is a poor leader and communicator. Perhaps a nice guy with a temper. He has avoided and has no electoral mandate (no general election in 2007), has lost policy vision with crisis management and centralist solutions. The wheels have come off his government. He has / is condemming his party to 4 years in opposition. 10p abolition was a huge iceberg to hit in the choppy economic seas. Its the credibility crunch with the credit crunch. There is no way back; whether new leader or general election! Its gone too far and like the Titanic, some now blindly clinging to the helm for power, others manning the lifeboats.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ubidenmark is right, as a result of the failed policies of the 70's we then had to endure high inflaltion and unemployment. I heard Ms Blears on Question Time blaming the Tories for this. They had to clear up the mess, like they will again.
    Brown has wasted 10 years, any fool can have growth with massive borrowing and high taxation. If he is an intelectual giant then I am a genius!
    We still have another 2 years to go, god knows what further damage he can do.

  • Comment number 13.

    Just watched the interview with Tamsin Dunwoody:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7416024.stm

    And it looks as if Crewe and Nantwich had a lucky escape. Her mother may well have been a titan, but she just came across as incredibly vacuous and stupid.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yey another blog by Mr Robinson (ex Chairman of Young Conseravtives, university pal of David Cameron) that could have equality written by Conservative Party HQ.

  • Comment number 15.

    There most likely won't be a leadership contest because the possible contenders are all too aware that they will be consigned to another failed leader after the election in 2010. Most likely, the Milibands and Balls' of this world will wait until the Conservatives win by a landslide in the next election and then challenge Brown, creating the image of a fresh start and new direction. Opposition was always more fun anyway...

  • Comment number 16.

    What make me fearful about last night's by-election result is how people have short memories
    Don’t forget people, These are the Tories who were responsible for the closure of the mining industrial,
    the steel industrial, 3 million unemployment, the selling off of our major state assets. Remember
    Good people of Nantwich and Crewe these Tories are the sons and daughters of the same people
    Who inflicted poverty and desperation on millions of good people up and down the length of this country. Lest we forget. Don’t be taken in by Young David who will promise you that his Party as changed ( O’ wait is that a pig that as just flew past my window)
    I agree the Labour Party needs a kick to bring it back on track but be careful we don’t kick it to death
    Because we will live to regret the day.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't think Labour will get rid of Gordon just yet. They can't be seen to have no confidence in their leader, even if behind the scenes, a leadership challenge is gatherig momentum. Who would actually want the job? Harriet would want to stand for leader only if there were prospects, and I suspect these prospects are sliding downhill as I write.

    Gordon started off by blaming a mid-term by-election for the dire results. By the time the Mayoral contest was won by Boris, he was nowhere to be seen, and even wheeled Harriet out to do his dirty work. He didn't even bother to visit Crewe or Nantwich and Harriet cancelled her visit at the last minute.

    Gordon now says the results were caused by the economy. What utter tosh! The good people of Crewe and Nantwich did what the rest of us would give our eye teeth to do. They got rid of Labour.

  • Comment number 18.

    #13 -

    Gwyneth Dunwoody was never a Titan.
    She may well have been a Titaness.

    (And yes, there was one Labour MP who remembered what it was all about).

  • Comment number 19.


    More of a bye-bye election for Gordon, really!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    #16 - hmm, I think we've heard a lot of this before haven't we? Love her or loathe her, Margaret Thatcher inherited a country that was dead on its feet. The way you paint the picture implies she was given the keys to the garden of Eden when she took over.

    The sad thing is, by the next election whoever takes over (Conservatives or next generation Labour) will again be handed a bankrupt and "knackered" country.

    As #12 so eloquently put it "any fool can have growth with massive borrowing and high taxation"...

  • Comment number 21.

    O HAPPY DAY, O HAPPY DAY, believe me we have not seen anything yet. Start digging holes and hiding your cash better still get out of Dodge for a few years. This man now know even with a divine blessing he will not be re elected-oops he never was in the first place. The middle classes are going to be hammered he will grind every last penny out of you to give to the "POOR". You know who I mean the chavs who haven't, don't and won't ever work the so called poverty stricken. So poor they can only afford one mondeo and a 40" flat panel so the can watch the full package of Sky movies and Sport. All the while smoking their 40 cigs a day while swilling the takeaways down with the crate of beer the get through each day. Stretch of the imagination - no I see it every day. The child poverty he is suppose to have relieved is still rife the same kids are still running around with their backsides hanging out their trousers while their parents live the high life on tax payers money. I wish I could afford the holidays these people have, I haven't been on holiday for years-so much for hard work.



  • Comment number 22.

    Naturally enough, pbrpbr forgets, or never knew, that it was Labour that started the sale of public assets in the 1970s, when it began the sale of the government's share-holding in British Patroleum.
    In the public sector, many of the privatised industries were starved of investment and looted by the Treasury.
    The mining and steel industries were chronically uncompetitive and an illustration of the structural weakness in the economy. Now, although smaller is scale, these industries are profitable.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi subedeithemomgol,

    I understand your point about no obvious replacement from Brown. Large swaths of the current cabinet are relative unknowns’ will little face/name recognition amongst the general public. Yet, apart from the Tories on this blog, who really knew much about David Cameron before he stood for the Conservative leadership? I didn’t and I consider myself something of a political animal.

    Of course, it is harder for someone to come out of the blue and grab the keys to #10. The public would be suspicious of a complete unknown, but if the relevant candidate could demonstrate some gravitas during the campaign, then his or her previous anonymity could be an advantage i.e. they could present themselves as the genuine change candidate.

    However, as I argue above – who would want to want the party in its present shape? Certainly nobody with a future; still I suppose there is always Jack Straw for caretaker. It might be a poisoned chalice, but it would be his only realistic change of being PM [however brief]. It’s just a crying shame that the New Labour project had to end like this.

    --------

    BTW was it just me or did anybody-else see shades of Obama’s language in Cameron’s call RE: ‘coalition for change’? Either way, a nice sound-bite, but he needs to be careful – if he’s too slick, people will come to believe Gordon’s salesman’s jibe.

  • Comment number 24.

    #5:

    "very little to show for it in health, education, crime, transport infrastructure" the UK has had more hospitals built that Western Europe combined over the last ten years. my old school was waiting 50 years, 50 years, before funding was granted to pay to replace the old mobile home classrooms in 2002. heard of crossrail? overall crime down 30%? record numbers of police? you can dislike Labours tax and spend policies, its a question of ideology, but to deny that changes have been made is just totally unfair and untrue and demeans the author of that comment, not Gordon Brown or the Labour Party

  • Comment number 25.

    im not an economist, but isnt high taxation generally considered an inhibitor to growth? most conservative party leaders think so! perhaps #12 and #20 know something Friedman and von Hayek dont!

  • Comment number 26.

    "Yey another blog by Mr Robinson (ex Chairman of Young Conseravtives, university pal of David Cameron) that could have equality written by Conservative Party HQ." #14

    Methinks there is a bit of shooting of messengers going on here! Or at least the very attitude that is bringing New Labour to its knees: specifically a tendency to hear only what you want to hear, which will be about problems that appear fairly easy to resolve without making truly substantial changes.

    It's never *just the economy, stupid!

  • Comment number 27.

    16,

    Its comments like this that really get my blood boiling. I'm no Tory but for the love of all things Holy! What a absolute bit of rubbish.

    Here let me re-phrase your post for you...

    ------------------------------------------
    What make me fearful about the last election result is how people have short memories

    Dont forget people, these are the Labourites who were responsible for
    The mass strike action and union militancy,
    An IMF backed bankrupt economy,
    Rampant inflation and the piles of dead and rubbish in the streets.

    Remember Good people of Nantwich and Crewe these Labourites are the sons and daughters of the same people Who inflicted poverty and desperation on millions of good people up and down the length of this country. Lest we forget. Dont be taken in by Young Tony who will promise you that his Party as changed ( Oh wait is that a pig that as just flew past my window) I agree the Tory needs a kick to bring it back on track but be careful we don't kick it to death Because we will live to regret the day.

    --------------------------------------------

    Now do you see your folly?

  • Comment number 28.



    It's worth noting that if Thatcher had buckled at the knees over Poll Tax, as Gordon has over 10p, history would be different. The public are angry and they are suddenly getting some remarkable opportunities of saying so. Could this become a habit? Perhaps politics in Britain is getting real at long last. When did we last care enough to actually register an opinion? Is apathy on the way out?

    Watch out for leadership talk. Watch out for early election talk. Anyone fancy some of that petrol tax back? Tried saying so? I don't mean the Poujadist demos of a few years back, the French do that better than us, but part of a reasoned political patform? Mr Clegg? Mr Cameron? Anyone?

  • Comment number 29.

    There is no one of substance to replace Gordon Brown.

    There are no longer any big hitters in the Cabinet; most are career politicians who may be great academically but cannot relate to real people and have no understanding of how people actually live.

    Even good old Prezza was a career politician who spent only a few years as a "working man" before jumping on the Parliamentary gravy train at 28.

  • Comment number 30.

    We have to remember that anyone under the age of 35 has probably never really suffered at the hands of an incompetent government.

  • Comment number 31.

    All this talk of potential Leaders not wanting to challenge for fear of "unfavourable" conditions in the coming years reminds me of why Politics is dead to most people these days. People do not enter Politics to better the lot of their fellow man, they enter Politics for power and self gain.
    Miliband and Balls being the latest prime examples.

  • Comment number 32.

    all those who say there is no-one left to replace brown, are exactly correct.

    i noticed when brown took office how those who were popular were kept close to brown in the cabinet, and when they fought it out for the deputy leadership, brown spotted an opportunity.

    peter hain, took donations after recommendations from brown's camp

    harriet harman, again popular within the party and reasonably popular with the public, also advised to take funds that brown's camp spotted were unacceptable.

    john reid, big hitter within the party and a threat to brown, was moved sideways, and made irrelevant, until he stepped down from the cabinet, and cast adrift

    ive always seen this as brown's plan from the moment he took over.
    there is one person though that has a bit more about him than the other nodding dogs, one hilary benn, comes from a background of principles and turned down brown's advice of accepting funding from dodgy sources that could have damaged him...

  • Comment number 33.

    I'll sure we'll see a few bribes err, 'measures to help the hard-working people of Britain' soon.

    It will not work.

    The only thing that could work is a turnaround in the economy but I think the downturn is going to continue (and hurt a lot of working people in the process) for too long to help Labour retain power.

    Post the General Election in 2010, Labour will still be relatively strong in Scotland and a few parts of England, where there is still a real loathing of the Tories.

    But the new political landscape in 2010, with the Tories in Westminster, the SNP in Holyrood and Plaid in Cardiff will be a barren place indeed for Labour.

    Every dog has his day, and Labour has badly corrupted its 'brand' but there should always be room for a 'socialist' party.

  • Comment number 34.

    Crewe and Nantwich: a rubbish result for Labour - but a bad one for the Tories, too. Why? because it means (a) that Labour are favourites to lose the next General Election and the Tories are favourites to win it (b) the public are not just tired of and fed up with Labour because it has been around for 11 years. They are frustrated with the government's failures to address key issues such as rising inequality, an unfair tax system, a financial sector out of control, a shortage of cheap housing, surging energy bills, post office closures, job insecurity, harrassment of professionals in the name of accountability,a disastrous foreign policy. I could add that another issue looms - environmental crisis - which the government talks about a lot but does little to address in practice.

    Why has Labour failed on all these questions? Because new Labour was founded on a deal with Thatcherism: it accepted the free market (and US hegemony in a global capitalist order) in return for being allowed the space to humanise it with welfare measures and investment in public services - a high spend, low tax, non-interventionist politico-economic order. Now we are in the grip of problems which cannot be resolved that way. There are large areas of life where the market does not work: we have reached, in fact gone beyond, the limit of what it should do. All the issues I mentioned above (with the exception of harrassment of professionals) require more public investment and intervention - a return to collectivism if you like, whether led by the State, local authorities, or co-operatives. This is why it's all bad news for the Tories as well: they are still addicted to the small state, free market outlook which brought in Thatcher and which new Labour broadly accepted. So they have no answers any more than Gordon Brown does.

    It looks as if young Dave will have to learn on the job, and discover that the only way to be a successful PM is to be Thatcherism's grave digger and the architect of a new, Macmillanesque paternalistic Toryism. Otherwise, he will be the Right Wing Ramsay Macdonald. Thatcher's heirs will scream and shout in protest. But as one shrewd old Tory (Baldwin) said, 'the dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on'.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think digitalNews junkie (#29) makes a good point about career politicians in the current cabinet.

    As well as not being able to connect with real people, i also doubt any of them could re-enthuse the wider party (and then the public) - which is what they would need to get people out knocking doors for them at the next general election.

  • Comment number 36.

    Before anybody else says it . . .

    The "five-year tractor plan" approach never was particularly 'tractive, was it?

    Have a nice weekend everyone, I'm off.

  • Comment number 37.

    It's sign of the paucity of talent and charisma on the Labour front benches that Ed Balls is listed as a possible candidate after the Boy Wonder. Let me help here, only spiteful Tories enthuse over David Milliband, they know how the man/boy projects. Broadsheet columnists applaud Boy Wonder for his intelligence and natural manner, forgetting that only a few million of us are as intelligent but hardly any of us are so clueless about how the world turns (see also: Blair, Anthony and Brown, Gordon under 'Failed To Deliver'). Desperate Labour supporters claim virtues for David Milliband in the same way desperate Lib Dem's have found virtues in the hopeless Clegg. So long as Cameron manages not to ingest vast quantities of street drugs, drop his trousers, or appear raving drunk at PMQ, friendly imprecision over policy and only direction of travel type pronouncements are required from hereon in.

  • Comment number 38.

    A bit of Truth might be a novel approach for NewLab.

    As it is, we get the standard NewLab Rent-a-Gob appearing on the media channels
    telling us that

    'Things are not as they are. Things are what we tell you they are.
    And we know you want more tax, more personal intrusion, more bin taxes and anything else we can think up, because we say that is all good for you'

    Whereas if Truth ever dares to raise its head in the NewLab party again, then a bit of Reality rather than NewLab self-delusion might emerge.

    The good folk of Crewe and Nantwich have told NewLab that they are a million miles away from getting what it is about.
    Bravo for them.

  • Comment number 39.

    David Milliband wil be Prime Minister by years end.Or David Cameron will be in 2 years time.Its up to New Labour.

  • Comment number 40.

    Faced with the voters' recent verdicts, GB's mantra seems to be that he is the right person to take the country through difficult economic times. If so, why does he not go back to being Chancellor of the Exchequer and allow someone else to have a go at beign PM? On second thoughts, maybe we would not be facing such difficult economic times if he had not been Chancellor! So maybe an early General Election would be best answer for the country.

  • Comment number 41.

    prbprb" lest we forget" the winter of discontent it was forcast it would take the incoming conservative party 30 years to put right the total mess the Labour Party left the country in the bankrupt sick man of Europe. The claim of full employment now they have moved from the dole to the sick and the rest now work for the government circa 25% of the working population are now in the employ of GB.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick,

    In some ways, there are echoes of the 60's and the interim leader that was Sir Alec Douglas-Home. In turn, Gordon Brown must have realised when the plagues and floods hit the UK last year that his time was nigh. There is nothing he could have done or can still do that will prevent his demise. Having jumped off a cliff some time ago, he is now fast approaching the bottom.

    The good news is that we will soon have the chance to choose someone that we are willing to entrust with the government of the country for more than one or two years, someone who will hopefully provide a smaller government that is less intrusive or authoriatarian and trusts its citizens. Perhaps we might even get a say on the EU Treaty and other important issues.

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just read this article ...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7416223.stm

    about Labour listening to voters concerns etc. It had a quote from the PM stating..

    "And my task is to steer the British economy through what have been very difficult times in every country of the world."

    Excuse my ignorance but isn't it the Chancellors job not his? Isn't his to sort out the big stuff like policy and running a government? Surely it's a bit like a CEO doing what a CFO should do? Madness!

  • Comment number 44.

    Re 21.
    Labour do not want poverty to be improved. This is their bread and butter vote.

    They need the chav vote as the chavs are quite happy to milk the benefit system while we are taxed more and more to pay for them. It is solid Labour vote.

    29m now working? how many are east european workers doing the jobs they won't. how many chavs are on incapacity benefit and not counted in the system?

    Labour have had 11 years to improve education but in reality all they ever wanted was to pump money into the system withhout seeing real benefits.

    It says something when their only tactic at Crewe was to go for "class war" when they want/need the poor to be poor so they can represent them.

    Times are changing, we will no longer accept been taken for fools.

  • Comment number 45.

    I saw a lady on BBC's Breakfast programme this morning, who said she voted Labour because she felt they are better in terms of looking after her and her four kids.

    My sense was she genuinely believed this to be the case. I also reckon many others *want* to believe that Labour will look after them and the Country, because of what they've been brought up to believe.

    So, how great the disillusionment when this proves to be a false belief. Also, what will happen to their votes in this new landscape, when they don't automatically vote for Labour?

    Personally, I can't see anyone in this Administration undoing what's happened since 1997, and changing policy in the dramatic way that is needed. However, I am often wrong!

  • Comment number 46.

    When Gordon Brown says he is listening, what he means is he is listening to his advisers, Harriet Harman and others who no doubt reinforce his view that the Government just need to explain it's policies better - not tear them all up and start again, that would mean admitting to more mistakes.

    But this is what needs to happen - forget the megalomaniac schemes like ID cards - concentrate on the bread and butter issues.
    Cost of fuel too high? Simple - cut the tax on it.
    Worried about cannabis? Don't - focus on things that matter.
    Want to waste time on locking people up for longer? Don't - pay the police the money they were awarded and let them do their job.Want to help the less well off? Simple: don't ask them to pay more tax - especially when company directors are getting £1m bonuses.

    For every current Labour policy there is a better one - the public knows that, it's not rocket science - the problem is GB and his barmy army don't.

    I predict that GB will be ousted or will be forced to go to the country long before two years time.
    John Major's 'Put up or shut up' challenge when he lost the support of his party and called an election, comes to mind.
    As days turn into weeks and months, GB's authority will weaken even more, until it becomes obvious even to him that he needs to do something decisive.

  • Comment number 47.

    Might I make a prediction? A year or two before the 2025 General Election (it might, at a pinch, be the 2030 General Election, Labour (or whichever party is by then the voice of the caring/radical left) will grab a safe Tory seat with a massive swing. Nick's successor at the BBC will comment that this means the writing is pretty much on the wall for the Tories, who had made such a promising start after their landslide victory in 2010. The Tory leadership will put on a brave face and promise that loads of new policies are being prepared and that it was elected to do a job and, by jingo, the voter expects them to hang on and do that job. Meanwhile, one morning, the sun rises in the East. Or to put it another way, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on.

  • Comment number 48.

    rockhippo (41) has a short memory. do you remember who began the mass migration of long-term unemployed onto the sick benefit? yep, old mary t, because of course her labour isnt workign campaign, when followed by three million unemployed, began to look a little ironic. and as for public sector share of workforce, ill trust the likes of David Smith, economics writer on the times, who has said that public sector has stayed steady at around 19% - lets not forget when those discs were lost, brown was blamed for HMRC being undertstaffed, after he sacked tens of thousands of civil servants. so that claim doesnt really stick

  • Comment number 49.

    It's an amazing result and I'm glad the Labour class war strategy failed. Tony Blair was right when he said the class war is over. Most people these days aspire to be wealthy and send their children to good schools. The Labour Party attacked the very thing that got them elected, the 'aspirational classes' and look where it got them. It shows Gordon Brown's confusion that's for sure. I hope the Tories campaign in Henley dressed up in top hats and toff regalia, I think that would be very amusing. I watched the BBC special last night and Chris Bryant gave the same answer to virtually every question. I don't know how many times he used the phrase 'personal finances' but it was far too many... :)

  • Comment number 50.

    JHWilson #34

    Perfect summary of people's discontent! Also very insightful analysis of NL's deal with Thatcherism. Hence the uneasy partnering of private enterprise with public service, where schools are run by people who belong on The Apprentice and South African health companies profit from the public purse without having to do any work.


    But wait! Our glorious leader says this temporary blip in his electoral fortunes is actually down to the crisis in the American housing Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Do they realise that when they say they are listening, then do the pre-ordained spiel (eg Blears on question time, Ed Miliband on the World at One), then carry on as before, it just angers and alienates us all even more?

    Do you really have to 'listen' to find out people will hate you for doubling the tax of the lowest earners who then have to come back to you cap in hand with a correctly filled out tax credit claim that will probably be miscalculated anyway. Oh, and not everyone is eligible in the first place. And to try to bribe the rest of us with £120 that we'll eventually have to pay back anyway!

    Do you have to 'listen' to realise that people don't want to be forced to log their genetic details on a government database along with every text, phone call and email they ever send? Did my grandfather fight in WW2 for us to set up a high-tech British Stasi?

    I guess the one benefit of total surveillance is that they will know what we all think!

  • Comment number 51.

    We are going through a mirror-image of the Decline and Fall of the Conservative Empire between 1995 and 1997. It will be interesting to see if GB (or whoever is the Prime Minister) will try to go through the full five-year term and defy Post-WWII history to become the first Prime Minister to retain power. (The nearest, I think, was John Major calling the 1992 election just before 5 years were up.)

  • Comment number 52.

    shellingout wrote:
    'We have to remember that anyone under the age of 35 has probably never really suffered at the hands of an incompetent government'.

    Oh really. Where have you been the past 11 years? This old chestnut needs to be thrown back into the fire!

  • Comment number 53.

    I think this is the best set of comments I have seen on this blog. Some excellent comments have been made from people on both sides of the divide.

    Surely it illustrates that we are all feeling the same, even though we might prefer different ways out of the mess?

    I totally agree with #8 about the difference between Cameron's ability to talk naturally about what's happening and Brown's capacity to lecture us on what we are feeling. His pathetic lieutenants also insist on trotting out the latest party line. During the BBc coverage of the election early this morning, Bryant said 3 times "I make no bones about this result" and guess what? Horrible Harriet trotted out the same phrase on the BBC Braekfast program this morning. There's no point in listening to them as they have nothing to say which relates to the real situation.

    I don't believe Labour have been humiliated because we are most concerned about fuel prices, food prices, mortgages etc. We would have the same problems if the Tories were in power.

    The real problems are that Labour has betrayed us on all the issues listed throughout this blog but still cannot face up to that fact and have robbed the cupboard bare so are left with no wriggle room now that times have got harder. because of all the

  • Comment number 54.

    Cameron is in Ayr today at the Scottish Tory Conference, so have a look at the audience - the average age must be c 70 - and although he is a shoo-in for No 10 come 2010 his party will still languish around the 15 point mark in Scotland.

    He does not want to be the Prime Minister of England, but that will be his de facto position, which will make relations between him and Alex Salmond really interesting!

  • Comment number 55.

    I used to think (a few weeks ago) that the problem was mainly McCavity Brown but I'm no longer sure - the recent performances of Harman, Milliband, Darling, Jacqui Smith and other make me want to ditch the lot of them.

    So I conclude reluctantly that it doesn't matter that none of the current Cabinet want to challenge Brown. I don't want a new Labour leader, I want shot of New Labour.

    I don't particularly want a Tory government either, ideally I'd like to see a hung Parliament. But I'd rather give Cameron a chance than have another two years of this lot.

    General Election NOW.

  • Comment number 56.

    Crewe sends a message to the decaying Labour party.

    Whoever leads the Tory presentational thrust should realise that we don't want an "heir to Blair".

    Blair skated on thin ice: politically, morally and economically. Please not another in the near future.

    Blair deceived the country about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    (I was very happy to go along with the idea of international intervention to remove ruling classes who despised and abused their own people, as in Iraq, Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan, etc... But that was not the spoken reason for intervention. I never guessed that a UK government would lie - or "spin" out of control. The Hutton Inquiry was a disaster. The evidence said that Blair was wrong. Hutton said it was "OK" to adjust the facts.

    Dr Kelly died, but there has not been a formal inquest. Why not? Hutton did not challenge witnesses - or make non-appearing witnesses turn up - as a coroner would. So why was Tony so sad when a real WMD expert died? Perhaps he realised that was his last contact with reality. Certainly the last contact with the majority of voters who can't afford to buy 7 houses.)

    Should we feel sorry for Brown? No.

    He screwed up a reasonably favourable economic position by allowing stupid spends on rediculous projects and creating more and more government funded positions.

    Am I against good government spending? NO.

    Just against taking money away from people who can't afford it, then making them beg to get it back, once it has been through an expensive layer of government staff.

    If the Tories want to build a new future, just dump any association with the Blair/Brown disaster.

    And try to persuade people that real life exists, whatever government ministers say.

    And just make it easier for ordinary people to live their lives without a constant hail of laws, rules and regulations plummeting down from Parliament and the atrocious EU.

    In other words, make life simpler.

  • Comment number 57.

    Whilst I welcome the back of GB and all who surround him, I don't want a complete whitewash and no credible opposition. It is not healthy for a democracy. Having seen the damage that Blair did with his massive majority, I hope Cameron and his crew respect the country better than Nu Lab have done and learn from Nu Lab and their downfall.

    Now, can we have an election please?

  • Comment number 58.

    When Government say they are listening to us, do they actually mean they are monitoring us (using CCTV, ID databases, recording internet communications)?

    A good start would be to realise it's not the same thing!

  • Comment number 59.

    I really think the By Election result speaks for itself although the Labour Front Bench would have you think that it's merely mid term blues or The People feeling the pinch as Harriet Harman says. Other excuses and scaremongerings rolled out include 'the labour supporters stayed at home in protest', 'the media influenced the voters', 'the Electorate do not realise what a good job Gordon Brown has done'., 'people haven't seen through David Cameron's lack of policies', 'people have forgotten what happened under Margaret Thatcher', 'the global economy is to blame for our present problems and that is something we have no control over', ' 'etc, etc., etc. The list is endless and we've heard it all before yet still it is trotted out as regular as clockwork.
    The plain fact is that Gordon Brown and his Government are just plain incompetent on a frightening scale. More scary still is the fact that they don't realise it because they are more worried about preserving their power and their inflated salaries.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a passionate socialist, I used to dread the tories getting back in.
    but now, labour seem to have moved so far to the right; it probably won't actually make that much difference.
    and this reveals labour's true problem; they have completely deserted the indigenous working class of this country, and said class have realised it - and turned round and done the same back to them.

  • Comment number 61.

    That’s a pretty fair report under the circumstances, Nick. I must admit, I was as shocked by Frank Field's petty attack as you seem to be over the Michael Foot thing. Not only is the jab wrong it's another example of how Labour stab each other in the back whenever they run into a little difficulty. I bang on about the bully boy Cameron not being able to go the distance but this is just as bad in its own way. Really, politicians need to develop some maturity.

    My take on the by-election is voting was really a matter of market hysteria. Cameron has very deliberately engineered an attention bubble and this is driving his stock way above its fundamentals. This is classic Mugabe style politics and why Cameron is only talking of building a coalition now he's trying to assert the image of a market leader. In reality, we know it's mostly the CBI and Murdoch who are too scared to come out openly. The Tories haven't changed.

    Some people mark me down as a Labour supporter. Actually, I'm not. I've been a member of both Liberal and Conservative parties in the past and have never voted Labour. My issue is with good governance and, I believe, the Labour Party and Gordon Brown is best positioned to deliver that. They've lost the plot a bit but neither the Liberals or Tories have it in them yet to help Britain get over systemic issues that impede national improvement.

  • Comment number 62.

    Of course those with serious potenital will not want to move now; but that is to miss the point. The people who will decide are the back benchers.

    There probably will not be an 18% swing to Cameron at a general election; that would put some 200+ labuor seats at risk.

    BUT, any reasonable swing in that direction will jeapordise quite a long gravy-train of seats, for which labour MP's will murder their grannies to keep. If they see no improvement in GB's popularity by the time of the party conferences - and I doubt that they will, for even the myth that he was a decent chancellor will by then have been laid to rest - they will have his head with no less alacrity than their counterparts had that of the Blessed Margaret.

    If only we could hasten the end with a solid vote of no confidence; for that is the reality of the voters position.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tamsin Dunwoody led a very negative and nasty campaign playing to people's (supposed) class prejudices which backfired spectacularly.

    However, Labour's real obstacle is Gordon's unpopularity and his equally unpopular policies: Abolishing 10p tax fiasco, ID cards, fuel tax, road pricing, inheritance tax, soaring council tax, tax on rubbish collection, HIPS (a tax on home owners), broken promise on EU constitution referendum, extended detention without trial, extension of snooping powers to local councils, withholding anti dementia drugs from people with Alzheimer's disease etc etc.

    Far from being a steady hand on the tiller, Gordon has steered the good ship New Labour onto the rocks.

    Rearranging the deck chairs now will make no difference. He is sunk!

  • Comment number 64.

    with the present economic situation those on low wages are really feeling it, if safe Labour seats now vote Tory we need to think what the commons will look like at a general election, could Labour be reduced to 50 seats as the Scots and Welsh might also reduce Labour MPs with nationalist votes?
    Labour might slip into 3rd place across the UK because the backlash seems to be spreading and its just a case of seeing how long they will hold on and how much their policies and mistakes will cost the taxpayers?

  • Comment number 65.

    If the poor and those on low wages are hit much further with the price hikes and extra costs of the economic situation will their unhappiness translate into a summer of discontent and resentment, perhaps we will see civil disorder/riots on a scale similar to the 1980s?
    The divisions that Labour have entrenched into the UK/our society might finally show that the glue between communities and those that govern us has lost cohesion and the run up to the next election might tear the nation apart as respect for Brown will drop further until he becomes a laughing stock by the time he is booted out, no ministers will support him as they keep their powder dry to hopefully take over in opposition? What do you think Nick, I know the middle classes are feeling militant so the working class and poor must be angry!

  • Comment number 66.

    CEH (#61)

    I prefer it when you write plain English as in this post, rather than the All Hail Blessed Leader stuff or cryptic Buddhist allusion. After all, we are supposed to be commenting on Nick's blog.

    I for one never assumed your political afficiliation (and genuinely don't care about the personal politics of any of the posters on this blog - I don't think they matter provided the comments are well argued not just loyal spin or invective).

    But you throw away a sustainable line of arugument again, by comparing Cameron to Mugabe. There is no way Notting Hill Dave can be fairly likened to the thug running Zimbabwe into the ground.

    Personally I disagree with your view that New Labour have delivered good governance or will do so in the future but that's a discussion one can continue....

    In the meantime. a plea to all posters - can we focus on what Nick has posted and our views on its accuracy and / or implidacations, and put away the name calling and point scoring, please?

  • Comment number 67.

    #33 - Every dog has its day
    #47 - The dogs bark and the caravan moves on

    Plenty of healthy debate about how governments of both persuasions have brought the country to its knees, and some successes from each.

    The first past the post system can produce large majorities and it would seem, without exception, this also leads to increasing government disconnection from the electorate and electoral disenchantment. Hence big swings at elections. Or, as the late Lord Acton put it, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    There's an interesting experiment going on away from Westminster. Does some form of proportional representation have to produce Italian style chaos? The First Minister and SNP Government in Scotland are forced to live on their wits; to agree accommodations with other parties to get their legislation through; and to have constant regard to the wishes of the electorate. As it happens the Mr Salmond can by no means be described as a boring orator.

    Surely the way to restore some degree of regard for Westminster politics and keep politicians' feet on the ground is to get rid of the systems that produces such corruptingly huge majorities. Put some form of proportional representation in its place and keep our elected representatives on their toes.

  • Comment number 68.

    In the meantime. a plea to all posters - can we focus on what Nick has posted and our views on its accuracy and / or implidacations, and put away the name calling and point scoring, please?


    You made some fair comment and I agree with this bit. Arguing and playing to the gallery just sucks the life out of reasonable discussion. When things get that bad people generally benefit from a break and, I note, there's a convenient parliamentary break coming up soon. That might help people clear their heads and refocus on the substantive issues in a more friendly way.
  • Comment number 69.

    @21 @44

    I thought the Cl*ss war was supposed to be over?

    What was it the Nasty labour people called the conservative? T*ff wasn't it?

    This feigning offence at a stupid by-election stunt is ridiculous. Why not sue them for damages? I wouldn't put it past them.

    @59 mutleys pup
    Do you want people to discuss different points of view or have a conservative self congratulation session? Many of those are valid points. But you conservatives genuinly feel you own this site. Perhaps because you are talking to Nick Robinson a famous former young Conservative. I hope he is now an unbiased political reporter. So anyone can make valid points who chooses. Don't be so smug You did nothing, You are a fan watching from the sidelines.

    This is boring! far too many people parroting Conservative party nonsense they've read in the papers.

  • Comment number 70.

    Charles_E_H is back again, saying he is not a fan of Labour, but likes the idea of good governance.

    Charles, over many years, I voted for Tory, Labour, Liberal and Independent candidates at differing levels of election and depending on which candidate seemed to offer the best vision at that level.

    You talk of good governance. Exactly when has the present administration achieved that?

    Brown (and his mates) say that he "saw us through" the problems of the floods. So why are local area authorities still waiting for the cash injection he promised? Good governance? No.

    Brown "saw us through" the foot and mouth problems that he oversaw because he wouldn't invest enough to ensure that a government department was properly run and administered. Good governance? No.

    Brown "saw us through" the catastrophic DEFRA failure to pass on grants to farmers (which resulted in the EU imposing fines of GBP300Million for maladministration). Good governance? No - just another hit.

    Brown "saw us through" spiralling levels of debt, with no intervention to control the catastrophic exposure of the "common man". Good governance? Bullstuff.

    Brown and Blair were all in favour of education. Me too. But how can you claim good governance, when people with great grades have no real understanding of the language and require remedial attention when they reach university level?

    Seeking positive outcomes is what we all need to aim for.

    Making it easier for people to state their positive outcomes, when the outcome is frankly poor has not helped this country for a decade.

  • Comment number 71.

    You talk of good governance. Exactly when has the present administration achieved that?


    The core strategy of Blair in his last days was actually very, very good. It hit all the bullet points and a lot of people were spooked that they agreed with the government. It was a bit like riding a bicylce for the first time.

    Gordon Brown tends towards strategy and markets. He's very, very good at it but not so great at practicality and charisma. He started hitting the sweet spot in about January but appearing too authoritarian and twitchy undermined that.

    Britain has problems with governance, business and, yes, the public. The fundamentals haven't moved much beyond the agrarian pattern of the Magna Carta era. This is an individual and collective problem people need to get over.

    On the issue of "All Hail Blessed Leader!" and the Zen stuff, I can't write for shit. It was mostly just an attempt to spring a more positive approach and explain some fundamentals. Like Gordon, reworking a few things seems appropriate.
  • Comment number 72.

    It is my conviction that citizens wouldn't mind paying taxes so much, if they had the impression that their tax pounds would be spent well. But they don't.
    New Labour has raised public spending considerably, but the overall quality of public services hasn't risen equally.

    It is easy to spend tax money. Unfortunately, since bureaucracies have little incentive to spend money efficiently, because there is no need to achieve real results or make a profit, tax money is likely to be wasted on overhead costs and pork.

    A politician, any politician, is basically a salesman in illusions and should be mistrusted. Cameron makes fewer promises than Blair/Brown, but it appears to me that the Conservatives are more likely to keep an eye on expenses than New Labour. I would rather give Cameron a chance to prove himself than see this current misery continue.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think this would be "a good day to bury bad news."
    Kind Regards
    Baron VonRipwinkle De Parkbench

  • Comment number 74.

    Charles_E_Hardwidge @79 - Re the self-criticism expressed in your last paragraph: I'd say your thinking is on par with your writing.

  • Comment number 75.

    My post #74 should have read

    Charles_E_Hardwidge @71

  • Comment number 76.

    I think this would be "a good day to bury the Labour Party."

    It's a dead parrot. It no longer exists. It has deceased. It has stopped breathing. It is no more. It is an ex-parrot, etc.

    Problem is it doesn't know it - we are in for maybe as long as two years of Zombie Government.

  • Comment number 77.

    A politician, any politician, is basically a salesman in illusions and should be mistrusted. Cameron makes fewer promises than Blair/Brown, but it appears to me that the Conservatives are more likely to keep an eye on expenses than New Labour. I would rather give Cameron a chance to prove himself than see this current misery continue.


    Labour have already identified cost savings and the Tories haven't been able to find a single dime more. Now, putting X number of people on the dole, reorganising departments, and making sure the public get the services they're paying for doesn't happen with a magic wave of the wand and isn't without its issues.

    Any idiot can be risk averse or cut costs. The really hard work comes from having a vision and the resilience to develop that vision. I get no sense the Tories have either vision or resilience. It's all just promises that haven't been tested. That's not competence, that's propoganda. And that's not good for us or the Tories.

    Labour have screwed up but the Tories still haven't changed. A win at the next general election is way, way too early for them. For their own good they need time to build better policies and work through the deep changes they still need to make as a party and people.
  • Comment number 78.

    Charles_E_H, I agree that, from a personal perspective, the core strategy of Tony Blair was very, very good.

    For him.

    How many ex-PMs would have been able, or willing, to accumulate so much money, so rapidly after giving up the reins of power?

    The guy who headed a football with Kevin Keegan to show he was a "man of the people". And hardly glances back at the chaos he left behind...

    I have no idea how you could equate Cameron and the Tories with a Mugabe style government.

    Did they send out their minions to beat people who would not vote for them? I don't think so.

    Thankfully, nor did any party. Although you seem to think that anyone who fails to follow a certain political line has head up ar"".

    For God's sake get real.

    If you introduce 1,000 laws, because you can, it means nothing unless you follow through.

    If you introduce 10 laws and follow them up and make sure they work, you get a bonus point.

    I hope that Cameron and his new mob will realise that.


  • Comment number 79.

    Let's just hope that old Gordon Bean has the same level of contact with the real world as CEH.

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick

    There is a distinctly cynical and derogatory tone to your "heir of Blair" comment; isn't the BBC - in theory at least - meant to be impartial? I had hoped the departure of New Labour apologist Andrew Marr might usher in a brave new world of BBC balance, clearly not.

  • Comment number 81.

    I wonder what New Labour think of Tony Blair's "Clunking Fist" comment now? Perhaps Gordon can tell us what it feels like!

  • Comment number 82.

    Charles_E_H you state that GB is very, very good at strategy.

    How can you justify that?

  • Comment number 83.

    "@80, Leedsbenny wrote:

    Nick

    There is a distinctly cynical and derogatory tone to your "heir of Blair" comment; isn't the BBC - in theory at least - meant to be impartial? I had hoped the departure of New Labour apologist Andrew Marr might usher in a brave new world of BBC balance, clearly not."

    A lot of these angry letters are always complaining about left wing bias. Everyone is left wing bias to them and they will never be satisfied.

    I perceive that the BBC is swaying towards the conservative party, and I think there is a certain amount of right wing steering going on with these left bias complaints. Therefore The conservatives are not being challenged adequately. Commentators should stand up to them if the complaint is clearly wrong and not try to appease it.
    Its like that Mary Whithouse drama thats on soon. She used to do the same, she had too much power over television.

    I'm not saying any perceived BBC bias lost the election for Labour. I have been concerned about this sort of message power ever since the North East was under attack by angry HYS tories during the long running Northern Rock story. Which seemed to go on as long as the stream of '£3000 each northern rock tax to buy votes for the Labour heartland', messages kept coming in. That type message was untrue but was allowed to go on. and probably did a lot of damage for the sake of appeasing obsessive Gordon Brown haters.

    Thats why I don't fully trust the BBC anymore.

  • Comment number 84.

    The problem with New Labour is that it is now Old Hat. Joan Collins looks younger - and is a lot more fun. But at least they ought to be able to find some work in pantomime or TV when they finally admit defeat.

    Brown is like Scrooge trying to appear like Father Christmas - but we know he doesn't approve of toys and wants to send us all off to bed early so he can count the cash.

    Hazel Blears is like some mad lollipop lady but could double for Julie Walters.

    The Milli bands are like the smart kids at school that everyone hates - so the City rather than the theatre is the obvious place for them.

    Harriet Harman is the witch from "The Wizard of Oz" (or Teflon Tony, who skipped town with a few million pounds) so she'd do well in Panto.

    Jacquie Smith is straight out of "Birds of a Feather."

    Ed Balls: "The Price is Right

    Alastair Darling: back to "Black Adder"

    I could go on but I won't torment myself. Paradoxically, I think that the much-criticised Hazel and Alastair are among the more genuine people in the government.

    Any other suggested employment for out-of-work political actors? We don't want them scrounging off the state, do we?

  • Comment number 85.

    Re: "I perceive that the BBC is swaying towards the conservative party."

    The BBC is not perfect but these kind of charges do not stand up. It's enough that the politicans have to hammer the BBC when they don't like their programs but I don't think we should join in.

    The BBC has a hard job to do to remain impartial and I think it is in their blood to do that to the best of their ability. What annoys me sometimes is that they are too impartial! But that is their job.

  • Comment number 86.

    You'd have to be completely mad to want to lead the labour party anytime in the next 2 years, so Gordon Brown's definitely (as he admits) the best man for the job.

  • Comment number 87.

    The greatest put down is by Dominc Lawson recently in the Indy that said that Gordon Brown was never elected by the people, and actually was never voted by members the Labour Party. Via Dunfermaline East/Kirkaldy/Granita he is now Prime Minister.
    Now voters have to choose him. And they don't actually like what is on offer.

    Also comments about "who would want the job" are missing the acidic comment by Thatcher (referring to Howe's subtle attempt to take her position) that everyone who ever enters politics, despite their vain denials, has their eyes on only one job as their goal. No one enters politics to be a back bencher, junior minister. It is the reason why politians are that different breed.

  • Comment number 88.

    I perceive that the BBC is swaying towards the conservative party, and I think there is a certain amount of right wing steering going on with these left bias complaints.


    There's been a huge increase of pro-Tory supporters hitting Nick's comments section and, so I hear, the Guardian. It looks a bit suspicious but is easily explained as a mob of lad mag reading office wallahs looking for a fight. Once Cameron's post by-election star dims they'll melt away soon enough.

    The bully wants to disrupt and scare you, and if you let that take hold they'll keep pushing until you crumble or snap. I wouldn't worry about it. It's only words on the screen. What's important is you write good stuff and have a good time. Heck, I need something to read.
  • Comment number 89.

    Re: "Heck, I need something to read."

    You could always read Gordon Brown's book on 'courage' - I wonder if he has? I know I haven't.

    Why are we being so beastly to Gordon?
    It's probably the only real 'power' we have.
    At least we are not living in China.

  • Comment number 90.

    "And my task is to steer the British economy through what have been very difficult times in every country of the world."

    Excuse my ignorance but isn't it the Chancellors job not his? Isn't his to sort out the big stuff like policy and running a government? #43


    The PM is also First Lord of the Treasury, so he is ultimately responsible for the economy.

    The bottom line is that Labour have screwed up. Never mind Iraq and Afghanistan; these issues are not enough to remove Labour.

    The economy is the danger for them. When people cannot afford to live, you are asking for trouble.

    Electricity/gas prices are out of control. But VAT returns are needed.

    Fuel costs are spiralling. But tax income is needed.

    The bottom line is that the Government has over-borrowed. Check the TRUE level of borrowing, mostly through PFI. No use blaming the Tories for implementing the original schemes, not when Labour expanded them.

    Government inflation figures are false. People are not stupid, they can see how much everything costs.

    But who could replace Gordon Brown? Possibly Jack Straw, but I don't see him doing so. The only politician that could have replaced him and won an election was Robin Cook. Personally, I want to see Ed Balls challenge him and win, only to have a PM turfed out at the next general election.

    Posters such as the good old Charles H assume that people like me who bash Labour are blue-nosed Tories. Not so, I voted Labour at the last general and Scottish elections, only to stop the maniacs of the SNP getting in.

    But I cannot vote for a party that is costing me far more than the Tories ever did. I can live with 15% interest, but not with 25% inflation and 50% annual increases on energy costs.

  • Comment number 91.

    Posters such as the good old Charles H assume that people like me who bash Labour are blue-nosed Tories. Not so, I voted Labour at the last general and Scottish elections, only to stop the maniacs of the SNP getting in.


    Mostly, I just see a bunch of people that are argumentative and negative all the time. That's not discussion it's a rant, and that just saps the life out of any forum. I'm not totally happy with everything Labour have done nor think the Tories have reformed, but can be reasonable. Anything that loses touch with that is a dead duck.

    The British generally have low confidence and poor social skills. It explains a lot of problems with macho-management and drink problems. Both parliament and online comment is tainted by this and it's worth reflecting on, and developing the opportunities and relationships to move beyond that. At least, I think so.
  • Comment number 92.

    "But who could replace Gordon Brown? Possibly Jack Straw, but I don't see him doing so?"
    I don't think you're alone there. What about one of the dialetcs from Dr Who"?

    "The only politician that could have replaced him and won an election was Robin Cook."
    Yes but who would have elected a garden gnome for Prime Minister?

    Any other bright ideas? What about Postman Pat?

  • Comment number 93.

    A very good bye election for NuLabour. NuLabour good bye.

    I see Chuck_E_Hogwash from The Fairy Times is still writing his agony aunt columns.

    I find an earlier quote of his very interesting:

    ------------------------------

    Unlike his predecessors Gordon Brown is almost perfectly positioned to develop governance that properly unites the head of government and the heart of the people.

    ------------------------------

    I suppose you mean the diatribe thats been trotted out a number of times by NuLabour
    - Winning Hearts and Minds. When in fact they practiced Emptying Purses and Wallets!

    I also find another of your offerings at #77 amusing:

    ------------------------------

    Labour have already identified cost savings and the Tories haven't.

    ------------------------------

    You mean the Commons public accounts committee that comprises NuLabour, Tory and Lib/Dem members.

    It said the Treasury was spending the most on employees' workspace and urged it to "set a better example".

    Naw, not the treasury, that was run by Mr Prudence Bean. Surely that must be wrong!

    Whilst we are on the subject of savings, I note that a number of bloggers have also floated the idea of building or converting a building into flats to reduce the costs of MPs staying in London. May I suggest the Tower of London?

  • Comment number 94.

    It is not quite so easy to remove a sitting Labour Prime Minister than people imagine. Unlike the Conservatives's men in grey suits.
    Yes I think there will be rumblings from the usual fools like the Labour Party's Prentice, plus Alan Simpson from Nottingham. This pair of destructive misguided divided fools along with a few others bring about the demise of any part and a press and media only too willing to lap up what they say then print and report that part whilst quickly dismissing those that will defend Gordon Brown.
    This is what the press and media wish to hear as it sells newspapers and makes for TV ratings.
    Not to mention it gives oxygen to fools like these who are only ever in the news when they have something destructive to say. They will never get any higher as they are still far too much from the loony left and they think returning to their lost cause will gain Labour support back it will not. The centre ground is where we have to remain.
    Can I also bring it to people's attention.
    Many years ago, the electorate in a staunchly Labour seat woke up to find they had a Tory MP. horror upon horrors!
    At the next election it would have been easier to weigh the votes for Labour, they outed the Tory on his neck big time, now if anyone doubts this please look back into the history of Geoff Hoons seat in Sutton-in-Ashfield this is the seat I mean. Check it out for yourselves, do not take my word for it.

  • Comment number 95.

    I don’t know whether its true, but I have just been told through a reliable source that Betting shop chains have just opened their books and are now placing odds for the date when Great Britain PLC will be placed into receivership.

  • Comment number 96.

    #84: bryanjames

    I would like to ad the following to your list:

    Teflon Tony - Cash in the attic
    Mr Bean - Flog it
    Hazel Blears - Footballers wives

  • Comment number 97.

    I would like to share this snippet from a local rag at a place I was staying at whilst working away from home. I thought this article perfectly encapsulates Teflon Tonys Britain:

    Common Sense RIP

    Today we mourn the passing of an old and dear friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.

    No-one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

    He will be remembered for having cultivated lessons as “life isn’t always fair”, and “maybe it was my fault”.

    Common Sense lived by sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults are in charge, not children). His health began to deteriorate rapidly after reports were published about a six year old boy who had been charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate. A subsequent report that a teacher had been fired for reprimanding an unruly student sadly hastened his decline.

    Things went from bad to worse when new laws were enacted that required schools to obtain parental consent to administer paracetamol, sun lotion or sticking plasters but were not permitted to inform parents when their under-age daughters were pregnant or wanted an abortion. He finally lost the will to live when the courts decided it was illegal to defend oneself from a burglar in one’s own home, but it was perfectly acceptable for that burglar to sue the victim for assault.

    Common Sense’s parents, Truth and Trust, pre-deceased him, as did his daughter, Discretion, along with his sons, Responsibility and Reason. He is survived by his three step-brothers, I know my rights, Someone Else is to Blame and I’m a victim. R.I.P.

  • Comment number 98.

    88# Charles, the more I read of your posts the more I think here lies pure common sense being spoken for a change. Common sense is not quite so common as one would imagine.
    I think it would do a lot the power of good to read what you have to say, digest it then intelligently comment on it.
    I am Labour to the backbone, I will never try to diguise it and I will never be ashamed of the fact either.
    I too think this Cameron et-al thing is for the moment a bandwagon that people are jumping on, but as fast as things turned sour for Brown it will for Cameron, the difference being, Brown will survive it Cameron will not, if things go pear shaped.
    He is nothing more than a shallow PR salesman. The public will soon turn back to substance over spin.
    Bear in mind it is his Guru Hilton and focus groups who are pulling Camerons strings, he says what people wish to hear not aways that which is right. Any mistakes can be dropped sharply.
    And it is Andy Coulson's job to get it out to his pals in the press and media asap. Brown needs to be quicker off the mark following this up, and mounting challenges.
    ......................................

    95# Welcome to the great Tory revival.
    Keep talking the economy down and let's talk ourselves into a reccession why don't we?
    Tory plan, talk down the state the country is in, make it seem 10 times worse than it really is. Talk us into reccession then reap a self fulfilling prophesy.
    Scare people half to death, bring your Country to it's knees, have the bookies make a killing, Well done!
    Welcome to the new world of Cameron and the Conservatives our would be saviours.
    Who are going to alter the world, bring down the price of a barrel of oil, give more to the poor, take more children out of poverty, make the prices in the Supermarkets cheaper, give the Police their full rise. Introduce tax-cuts without cutting services. Eat beetroot and **** cucumbers. Just like that!
    All things to all men and a gullible few who will believe all they say just as they would eat all they see.
    Welcome to Tory UK or could that be Tory Utopia.
    In a pig's ear it will!

  • Comment number 99.

    In the aftermath of recent local elections and indeed the by-election at Crewe and Nantwich, the media at large and commenters on this blog have discussed a possible change of PM and
    even suggested possible candidates. May I suggest Mr Beans office cleaner, they would posses the qualities required to clean up Westminster and even be capable of applying some Vanish to remove the Brown stain.

    Small piece of advice, from lessons learned at the Home Office, check the person is not an illegal immigrant first

  • Comment number 100.


    This by-election result would have been repeated in most English constituencies.

    It would probably not have happened in Scotland at all and in only isolated parts of Wales.

    Whatever the outcome of the next GE, the next Govt needs to do something about the UK's democratic format.

    Current Devolution arrangements are not acceptable to the English. The old Union is unacceptable to the non-English.

    We need greater self-governence for each UK nation and fair co-operation on those few issues of common interest, eg defence.

    The UK might then stand a chance of retiaining the significant benefits of being British, with each UK nation enjoying the freedom to grow in its own way.

    I suspect the devolvement of political control would unleash a creative, cultural and economic vibrance in all nations - and we might all be a bit happier living together on the same island!!

    Time for some vision on this issue.

 

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