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'A battle of the bodies'

Nick Robinson | 17:49 UK time, Monday, 8 June 2009

There will be no e-mail. There will be no letter. Not tonight. Perhaps never.

Ever since James Purnell's dramatic resignation from the cabinet there has been what one of those working to unseat the prime minister describes as "a battle of the bodies". It is a battle that Gordon Brown is currently winning.

Not only did no cabinet minister follow Mr Purnell's lead but also few junior ministers have done so.

Today a number of those thought most likely to jump ship have in fact accepted new postings on the Good Ship Brown.

This, even after, election results worse than the bleakest predictions which have left Labour MPs talking openly about whether they can avoid a landslide defeat at the next election.

No wonder many backbench MPs have proved unwilling to sign a call for their leader to go.

So, is Mr Brown safe?

The rebels insist not. At tonight's meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party they hope to re-write the usual script for what are always inaccurately billed as "make or break" meetings.

The prime minister is always said to have given what's called the "speech of his life". Loyal MPs and veterans of past divisions call on the plotters to show some loyalty and stop talking to the media. Desks are banged in approval. The leader is said to be out of the woods.

Not this time. A number of Labour MPs plan to tell the PM to his face that he needs to go if the party's to avert disaster.

So, after the failure of the cabinet coup and the backbench e-mail the aim is to repeat the tactics that successfully led to the removal of Michael Martin as Speaker.

Gordon Brown will, I suspect, prove a harder man to move.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Now Harriet Harman is blaming The Recession for Labour's poor showing. The list of excuses is endless!

  • Comment number 2.

    I prefer not to refer to them as 'rebels' but as 'realists'.

  • Comment number 3.

    hi he will limb on but one eye over his shoulder for "the eyes of march
    like julius ceaser.. i am afraid labour are going down with there captain at the wheel...

  • Comment number 4.

    When it comes to self interest the instincts of NuLabour come to the fore. They will tolerate anything to cling to their seats for another 12 months.

    Meanwhile Gordon will continue to insert un-elected Labourites into the House of Lords and call it electoral reform.

    Election now please.

  • Comment number 5.

    As has been said no many times before about this whole situation, "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas". There will be a stalemate tonight which may help The Government in the long term but which will prove to be very harmful to the country.

  • Comment number 6.

    If Brown is the best person to be PM what does it say about the rest.
    Why do we never hear the PM, Mandleson and the other ministers refer to what the people of this country want.
    Why not get Brown to answer questions on BBC Question Time on Thursday.
    Why has no journalist asked why he lied over getting rid of Darling, or were the press lying.

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Labour supporter, this is one of the most depressing days for many a long year. The elections, the BNP and now we're going to be stuck with Brown, because the party is too weak to get rid of him. What is coming to those MPs and ministers who bottled it this week is well and truly deserved.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    Come on, Nick, don't talk up the craven cowardice of the potential challengers...... you are not helping the nation, here


  • Comment number 10.

    Because things are so bad - because the voters have spoken so loudly - they will allow Crash Gordon to stay - because they want to stay in their jobs for another year!! We are doomed to a dead government for another year.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Nick,

    Would this night be remembered as The Night of The Knives or The Night of The Living Dead?

    If GB stays then more death and dying will come from the useless Government of cowards and has-beens. (How hard is it to organise a coup now-adays?)

    If GB goes, new General Election and the death of (Za)Nu(Improved) Labour. Either way, death will be very bloody for all those involved.

    May we all live in interesting times!


  • Comment number 12.

    "Gordon Brown will, I suspect, prove a harder man to move"

    Which begs the question, that perhaps you should be asking Nick... why?

    Is it because he believes the labour party will be more likely to win the next election with him at the helm? Sadly mistaken, but no doubt the rebels will correct him on this one.

    Is it because he knows a change of leadership means less time in the commons for many of his party, since it will trigger an election almost certainly? If so he is putting personal and political objectives before the needs of the country, so in no way is this a justifiable stance - the public aren't stupid, and they'll see this, so worsening labour's inevitable defeat. Sadly also worsening the mire the country is in.

    Or is it because he genuinely believes he is the best person to hold this country together in difficult times? Some evidence for this comes from his response a few weeks ago to Cameron in PMQs - 'because there would be chaos under the tories'.

    Can anything justify the sheer arrogance of the last viewpoint? It doesn't matter whether he thinks he's the best for the job or not. What matters is what the public thinks - he is merely their servant, not their ruler. Polls show overwhelming public anger at Brown, and a majority desire him to go. So by staying 'because he believes he is the best man for the job' he is refusing to accept that the public have any notion of what is good for the country, and stating instead that he knows better.

    Isn't this exactly what is wrong with this government, and one of the reasons why they are so unpopular - they simply don't care what the public wants, but instead pursue a policy of nannying and interfering, while public sector costs escalate, and business is stifled.

    If he stays, it can only be for a reason which is at best misguided, and at worst both indefensible and selfish.

    Nevertheless I agree Nick - he probably will stay.

  • Comment number 13.

    Gordon Brown missed his chance some months ago when he could have been legitimately elected - he made what may well be seen as the worst of all defining choices back then.

    He could have been good - but Tony Blair left when the excrement was about to hit the midden and instead of being remembered as a great chancellor he will be remembered as a weak premier. A shame, but he cannot avoid the political reality for much longer, tough as he is.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is all too familiar to the US election in 2008. An incumbent party savaged and picked apart by an irresponsible and reckless media, and an opposition party put under little to no scrutiny. I find it very distasteful how man Cons/LD politicians and ideologically driven members of media are calling for an election under the veil of "it's in the best interests of the country!"

    We need three things before any election

    1. The media to go about their jobs in a professional, considered and responsible manner. This media-frenzy of scare-mongering and hyperbole passing for hard-nosed journalism has to stop. Unfortunately too many of the British electorate are unable to see through editorial spin.
    2. Gordon Brown to be given time to see the fruits of his policies on the economy and his reforms of parliament. He's a decent well-intentioned man, who was a very good chancellor, and is in politics to help people and to make Britain a fairer, better, and stronger country. He deserves a chance to show us his credentials.
    3. Far more media scrutiny of the Conservative Policy and analysis of their policies and possible cabinet. I consider myself to be reasonably well informed and I have no idea about any of their policies or plans for the country, and I don't know of any of their main people apart from Cam, Hague and Osb. For the sake of democracy, the conservatives need to win this election on policy and their own credentials, not Labour lose it because they are the incumbent government in a political firestorm.

  • Comment number 15.

    If I were a Labour MP, my calculation would be to hold fire until the autumn. By then, parliamentary allowances will be reformed and the economic picture will be clearer. A leadership change followed by a snap election would then be much more feasible and more easily presented to the country ("we recognise you need the chance to vote for a new Government to reflect the change in prime ministership. We respect your need for this and so will go to the polls in early 2010").

    Of course, this give Brown time to "sort things out" over the summer. But this should be fine for Labour plotters as it will either strengthen their case ("we gave him a chance but he just isn't up to it") or result in the party recovering from their current low polling, meaning electoral losses will be fewer.

  • Comment number 16.

    You political journalists should do us all a favour and stop talking up these events.

    Gordon Brown is not going to leave office unless he is levered out. The Labour Party cannot appoint another leader as the demand will grow even louder for an immediate General Election. So they are in a cleft stick and there they will have to remain.

    The next general election will be either this autumn of next spring. If the Parliamentary Labour Party has any brains it will try to wait until spring as this will give them all time to massage their constituency support as best they are able.

    The problem that the PLP will have is that this has been a truly dreadful government and the longer they leave the matter unresolved the more the wounds they have inflicted on the public at large will fester. The advantage they have is that the longer they leave it the greater the prospect of Cameron et al making a mistake. There is a calculated risk in this strategy.

    In my view the economy will continue to deteriorate throughout the next year, the spending cuts the government has already factored in will begin to bite and even more wheels will come off. Somehow I can't see the government surviving much beyond October 2009.

  • Comment number 17.

    Please tell me I am dreaming, just heard that the Labour MP'S for this PLP meeting this evening was so stage managed, would have put any 3 ringed circus to shame... cheering, clapping, banging of desks..... Don't these idiots know they have just come through 2 of the worst election defeats in Labours illustrious history... have they no shame.... talk about the court of public opinion... thats just been crashed through with a load of coach and horses... Court of public opinion has convened, its given its judgement, twice this past week.... go, just go... we don't want you... fed up with being told by you lot thats what we the public want... the continuation of the NuLabour government.... WE DON'T WANT YOU... can't you hear what the great people of Great Britain tell you.... GO, GO NOW, Call the Election!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    There is a much more democratic way to remove Gordon Brown - and Labour - from office. It's called a general election.

    Brown will intimidate, smear, and bully his way to the next election.

  • Comment number 19.

    From today - YOU can raise it with the Prime Minister yourself - and you no longer have to rely on your MP to do it too !! ... take a look below ...

    The Prime Minister has set up a system for e-petitions to be formally registered with 10 Downing Street ... so let's use it to ask Gordon to provide the UK with a 21st Century democracy too - take a look at the petition I've submitted below ... and just click on the links at the bottom to sign it !

    This is a simple and effective way to properly register your frustration with the electoral system and to have your voice heard by Number 10 too ... and to get the Prime Minister to acknowledge and respond to it properly to it too ...

    In a 21st century democracy you don't always have to vote with your 'feet' ... but you do need to 'vote' with a 'click' !!

    "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to give UK people a 21st Century democracy in order to regain trust in Parliament."

    "We would like the Government to give UK people a democratic system fit for the 21st Century. New technology, such as the internet, is creating a 21st century platform for democracy where everyone can communicate/see what is happening, express their views/concerns, suggest ideas for improvement and have their say on the priorities/changes needed. Other Governments are already starting to do this, and gaining trust (and ideas) as a result.

    More referendums should take place and representation should be based on ability and a true representation (e.g. more proportional representation). Representatives should also reflect, and be continually answerable to, a robust, representative and independent sample of the community they serve. One person should not be given complete responsibility (on election day) to represent 100,000s of people every day for five years, whilst not being continually accountable to those they are supposed to serve.

    Democracy should happen Every Day, not just Election Day

    as Trust will not be restored without it."

    Click here to go to the e-petition

    Get your voice to be heard (by the Prime Minister) ... Request "People democracy" direct with Number 10 today ... and don't miss the opportunity now afforded to us bloggers, and to everyone else in the UK too ...

    David Clift, a Future 500 Leader

  • Comment number 20.

    So we will have to endure another year when the whole population
    can vote (unless GB changes that) as it seems there are no people with
    backbones in the PLP,

    Why is Caroline Flint not standing ,I'll give her my vote, given her comments. So we will have by-election by by-election humiliation for Zanu-labour until next may/june, whatever

    Cannot all the oppostion resign to force the issue ?

  • Comment number 21.

    Most Labour MPs know that if there is a General Election they are going to lose their seats, either to the Conservatives or to other parties. There's no way that they're hanging on 'in the best interests of the country' - they just want to keep their jobs as long as possible.

    Given that so many Labour MPs have come up through the 'political professional' route - be it in the unions or as a special advisor - they've far less to fall back on than other MPs who at least have alternative careers to return to.

    The only hope that the majority of Labour MPs have of keeping the decent pay checks coming in for a little bit longer, is to keep Gordon Brown in office. If he goes, they'll go soon after. So why do we expect anything other than a continuation of the pursuit of short-term, party-political interest that has been so characteristic of New Labour from the outset?

  • Comment number 22.

    Labour seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis, at least that's how it appears from within. The old 'hard left' had been pretty well discredited and in order to gain power Blair had to invent 'new left', meaning the abandonment of some of the wilder and woolier party ideals and pretty much doing what ever it took to gain office. Once in of course, the lure of easy personal gain seemed to capture the less-idiological of the bunch as it always does with any brand of politicos. The result is a mish-mash of half-baked theories and public relations campaigns, lightly veneered with a bit of a socialist slant. This has led Brown to inherit a party of has beens not knowing what they believe in. Come back Tony Benn all is forgiven. Nick Robinson is the only Hack who appears to understand why the public have backed the BNP, or more accurately stayed at home to allow them in. Imigration is an issue for the silent majority which the mainstream parties haven't addressed. Ignore this at your peril Mr Cameron.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sky is reporting the Gordon Brown was cheered by his MPs at the start of tonight`s PLP meeting.

    About says it all doesn`t it. Most of them have been fiddling their expenses, living off the fat of the tax payer for years. According to the voters in the recent elections, Labour has its worst leader ever.

    Labour has lost control of every County Council in England and the party came third in the EU elections. And they cheer their leader as a hero!

    How out of touch are they? Ministers were today seen scrurrying out of the back of No10, afraid to show their faces. According to Frank Field there has been a lot of arm twisting to keep MPs on side, all to stop Brown being kicked out. Meannig an early general election would have to be called, when a large number of labour MPs would loose their jobs.

    Nauseating or what? Aren`t we all glad we live in a democracy where your vote counts and we are governed by a party with high morals and integrity.

    All I feel is that I and the rest of the country are being made mugs of.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    The Labour Party faces a choice. Ditch Brown now and enter the next election with a fresh face and a fresh approach, which might limit the extent of the defeat, or continue with someone who is now a lame duck and face certain annihilation next year. The party need to accept that winning is no longer an option. The strategy is about limiting the losses. If the party thinks that they can just regroup and carry on with Brown, believing that the public will accept this, they are deluding themselves.

    And it is absolute nonsense to say that personalities don't matter, merely policies do - though having some idea of the latter would be nice. If that were the case, John Major and Michael Foot would not have lost as badly as they did. In fact, if policies were what elections were about, why care who they elect? But, that is deceitful. Whether we like it or not, personalities play a central role, and once someone is so badly damaged, it is impossible to recover. Brown is hated by a sizeable number of his MPs. That has been voiced and cannot be undone.

    Ditch him now!

  • Comment number 26.

    This would make you weep. The Labour party polled just 7.5% here in the South West. They We are not children, we are not stupid.

  • Comment number 27.

    The Guardian commentator A Sparrow is blogging the meeting from outside.
    Ben Bradshaw has apparently just emerged (7.00 pm) claiming Gordon Brown gave - "The Speech of a lifetime".


  • Comment number 28.

    I don't know where cabinet ministers get the notions that fuel their vacuous comments about what 'the people' want them to do - fix the expenses, sort out the recession etc etc.

    Its time for the people to have their chance to judge this government on its past four years. Things were going wrong before the expenses scandal - e.g. 10p tax rate and people wont' forget that.

    The defeat when it comes will be worse the longer we're kept waiting for a general election.

  • Comment number 29.

    Amazing! My comment #6 has been referred to the Mods. All I did was ask if Labour whips are blackmailing Labour MPs to back the PM. So, what's so controversial about that, unless it is true?

  • Comment number 30.

    I think Gordon will survive, the labour party must understand that we as a party can not, win votes if we are going to be arguing amongst ourselves it will only damage ourselves more, and if we talk of toppling GB then that will do even more damage.

    We must unify as a party and stand beside the Prime Minister, remember the British have always fought best when they are 'up against the wall'.

    I think Gordon Brown is the man to lead us forward and I think that tonight we will see the labour party stand beside him

  • Comment number 31.

    Maybe London has understood yet but if the SNP win the next election in Scotland it is goodbye UK. If Labour are to survive (even in their former heartlands) they need to change policies. The party leader should have a ten day review of all policies and start to focus on what Labour voters want (and not the newspapers agenda).

  • Comment number 32.


  • Comment number 33.

    The few tired trusty few might be less inclined to jump ship but the bullets fired broadside by the voters has rocked the boat beyond recognition and the incident will go down in history as a shipwreck disaster.

  • Comment number 34.

    I've had a re-think about this - the assumption that a change of leader must be followed, pretty much immediately, by a General Election is (I've now decided) NOT correct - which opens up the following course of action ...

    - ditch Gordon
    - run a proper leadership election
    - unite behind new leader (probably Johnson)
    - spend at least 6 months promoting policies and exposing the Clowns' lack of same
    - election in Feb 2010 against background of improving economy (maybe)

    ... realistic goal of hung parliament or (at worst) a fairly small Clown majority


  • Comment number 35.

    He's not going to go down easily. Though, he's certainly got a festering wound in his side. One that's just going to get worse as time progresses. All it'll take is for one person to pop up, out of nowhere, & singly snipe a crossfire. Find his weakness & make a double hit in one shot. Nobody will see it coming. The question is... Who can act alone?

  • Comment number 36.

    Nicholas - there was a "best before date" on someone - and I regrest he went off! Mister Brown I mean - of course.

    Aim - hurt? lol

    Oh and what was it Alice Cooper - or Furnell what every he is really called said - about something? "School's Out for Summer".

    Good Bye Robinson Minor. The Beeb must be very proud in the part it has played in all this by saying nowt. About the Brown back story I mean - of course.

    Fresh month? Aim - hurt? Jar?

    Hurt? Oh like that aint been done already? To Gordon Brown I mean. Of course.


  • Comment number 37.

    13 Planting Seeds

    Come now, don't be so cruel.

    He will be remembered as a weak premiere AND as a terrible, ignorant, and stubbornly arrogant chancellor.

  • Comment number 38.

    Early indications from the PLP meeting tonight indicate a desk thumping, rousing endorsement of The Prime Minister as leader as you would expect. In other words I think we're looking at a 'brownwash' and the minority of rebels have bottled it for now. The Electorate won't be impressed.

  • Comment number 39.

    There is not enough integrity in the whole of the parliamentary Labour party for any of them to make any open meaningful attempt to unseat Brown. They are all so busy covering their own backs and manoeuvring to get themselves in a position of advantage for when he does fall, as he surely must. Sadly by that time, the damage done to this nation may be nigh irrepairable. They queue up to sing his praises, but behind the scenes the Millibands, Balls, Johnston and Harman will be keeping their options open and their cards close to their chests ready to strike should the opportunity arise. It is like " The apprentice ", all that is required now is S'r'Allen sitting in judgement. The quality of candidate however would not, I'm afraid impress the aforementioned, he tends to go for competent people with a full quota of brain cells who have some degree of trustworthiness and integrity.

  • Comment number 40.

    ...& I'm still waiting for Peter to make his third failure, yet. ;-)

    Perhaps a shot in the foot?

  • Comment number 41.

    There were very good reasons why Tony Blair avoiding passing the mantle to Gordon Brown for so long, they are now all becoming only too clear.

  • Comment number 42.

    When all this blows over I hope that the traditional Labour voters understand that the party they have continued to support over the last 10 years are anything but true to their Socialist roots. The whole cosying up to the financial institutions at the expense of blue collar industrial and manufacturing (Fridays pleading by LDV a prime example) combined with the growth in the gulf between the richest and poorest of society are not policies that any true Labour supporter would endorse, but that's where it's at.
    What we have at the moment is the worst possible combination of massive tax and spend with a total lack of control, and no social responsibility. Please don't go on about investment in schools and hospitals as most of this is PFI funded and will result in us paying way over the odds for many years to come. Another short sighted fix that will have long term ramifications.
    What ever happened to Prudence eh? Just another New Labour falsehood I'm sorry to say.

  • Comment number 43.

    Gordon Brown says the country would never forgive him and the Labour Government if they walked away now. It must be obvious even to him that the electorate want nothing else than for him to walk away and take his useless government with him.

  • Comment number 44.

    14. Johncarrelson

    The labour party is being made uncomfortable by some very light media scrutiny, no more, to suggest they are being savaged is preposterous. The list of catastrophes inflicted upon us by these power grubbing, arrogant, and frankly insufficient politicians is mind numbing. Suggesting a) that these errors do not deserve scrutiny and b) that a party not in power should be subject to equal scrutiny is just so pathetically illogical I actually feel sorry for you.

    We do not need 3 things before an election. We need 1. A prime minister who choses to act in the best interests of the country. He was a terrible chancellor who missmanaged an economy that would have fared much better without his greasy mits all over it. He landed us in huge debt despite the boom he inherited, left us all without a pension pot to look forward to, and deregulated the banks (to name just the 3 largest of his many errors).

    Regarding your 1, unfortunately apparently some of the electorate are still, despite endless evidence, unable to see through the spin and bare faced lies of the government. I can only put this down to indoctrination at a young age, you probably grew up believing that Labour were the party of the people, and are now too stubborn to let that belief go. How you can claim that people are ignorant for listening to the media, and then proceed to trot out your tired rhetoric drip fed to you by your hero's is incomprehensible.

    RE 2, I live in a far worse country now than I did 12 years ago, morally, economically and with regards to infrastructure. You would see this too if you did not walk around with your head in the clouds. Gordon Brown's policies will never bear fruit, all he has achieved is to land us in debt for a generation. The economy will improve naturally of course, this is the nature of (no more) boom and bust, and when it does I am sure there will be a huge army of ignorants seeking to lay this at the door of the estimed PM. But only the very ignorant will accept this as the truth as they labor under the burden of the extra taxes imposed upon us by a man too stubborn to take advice from his betters.

    RE 3, you will get scrutiny of the Tory party WHEN they are in government. As it should be. Their policies are not the ones that have sunk the country, so surely you can see that it is a pointless exercise to wonder what might have happened if they had been the ones in charge. Basic point this, somewhat surprised it is necessary to point it out. And for your information, you are very very NOT reasonably well informed. If you would like to know about the oppositions policies, try google. But I suppose you have been listening to Gordon Brown's 500000000000th repetition of the "do nothing" phrase, and it is so far ingrained into your thinking that there is no room for anything else.

    I don't really know why I have bothered to respond to you in such a lengthy manner. You will just shrug it off, reinforce your party propoganda in your mind, and belt out another rendition of "I'm labour till I die" as they flush this country down the toilet. People who will not open their eyes are a dangerous liability, every bit as dangerous as the high number of BNP votes, because you will continue to willfully disagree with everyone else on a fundamentally flawed principle. Do the country a favour, and don't get out of bed on general election day.

  • Comment number 45.

    Cheers for Gordon Brown?.... there they go again, not looking at the nudity of the man just pretending that his clothes look magnificent.
    You know what? They send our good men and women to fight on their lies and there's not a one of those MP's that have any moral fibre or any backbone to do the correct thing by the people of this country.
    Fat pockets... plenty of time to stuff them even fatter. Fiddle whilst Rome burns but don't worry 'cos we're alright, Jack. The electorate are just plebs, ignore 'em for another year. Don't give them a referendum on Europe, foist the ID cards on 'em... there's not a thing they can do to us.
    Why are we all so well mannered that we can't get ourselves organised and protesting on the streets about this PM and his unelected Lord of Darkness... and he's become self delusional that he believes himself needed to help see Labour through this crisis.

  • Comment number 46.




    WELL DONE nulabour.

  • Comment number 47.

    Have the Labour whips done enough to save the PM? Mind you, I do wonder if the whips are muttering 'fiddle sticks!' to themselves at their inability to shut up Environment minister Jane Kennedy!

    From the BBC News website (note the source, Mods):

    Asked why she could not support him, she said: "I've been unhappy for some time about briefings against individuals, leaks, smears against colleagues.

    "It's a style, a type of politics that I have fought against all my working life since battling against the Militant Tendency here in Liverpool. It's not a kind of politics that I want to be associated with.

    Labour whips behave like Militant Tendency! Incredible! Well Mr Brown, you are no Jack Kennedy. If you lust after the job so badly, you will resort to Stalanist thugs to prop up your zombie administration, don't let me stand in your way. I'll keep my nose clean. I ain't going to no stinkin; Gulag.

  • Comment number 48.

    This just proves that we need a proper constitution in this country to force elections. The only option left is open demonstration to get this failing government out as neither the Labour party nor the leaders have the nerve to do it for us. I truly hope the conservatives are watching this and are going to address these issues immediately that they come into power because this situation is going to be terrible for this country.
    Labour will be wiped out at the next general election for their cowardice. Well done - we saw the damage Blair did with his overwhelming majority, so expect the same from Cameron (or pray that he is able to keep his decency!)

  • Comment number 49.

    Like I've said before, there isn't anyone with a backbone amongst any of the Labour MPs.

    No one will do the deed and finish Gordon off, despite it being neccessary to save the Labour party, despite it being neccessary to save the country and depite it being neccessary to save Gordon himself.

    Its like a playground game of dare, where everyone wants the other person to go first. Except all the while our democratic process is paralysed and brought into question, so much so that the extremists have a foothold in mainstream politics.

    How much further do things have to sink before someone will take action?

    Do we the public, have to do the deed ourselves? Do we have to walk on Parliament and force the issue?

  • Comment number 50.

    Why not eliminate all these comments but one? That by John Carrelson (No.14) is the only one worth reading and hits all nails on all heads.

  • Comment number 51.


    In ancient Persia, a man was brought before the Emperor on a captal charge and condemned to death.

    "Great Emperor," cried the man, "spare me and within a year I will teach your horse to sing. It will be the wonder of the age and you will be remembered for ever".

    The Emperor didn't believe the man - but, the prospect was intriguing, and he could always hang him if he failed. So he spared the condemned man.

    "Are you mad?" the condemned man's friends asked him when he was released. "you'll never do it".

    Said the man: "In a year, the horse may die, or the Emperor may die. You never know, the horse may actually sing. Who cares? I've got another year and nothing to lose".

  • Comment number 52.

    We desperately need a 21st century democracy - a "people democracy" - where people are listened to, properly represented, and capable of having a say ...

    take a look the new e-petition which gives everyone the chance to 'request' the Prime Minister (and Number 10) to give us what we want ... and to let us have a say ...

    and register your request for a 21st century electoral system too - so everyone is given a say ... and "every day" ... "not just on election day" !

    As trust will not be restored without it !

  • Comment number 53.

    This is all getting more bizarre by the day.

    On TV tonight I saw Roy Hattersley being interviewed and refering to Gordon Brown as an "unelected" prime minister - a welcome piece of unintentional honesty there!

    And later on, we have the other half of the old Labour "Dream Ticket" leadership Neil Kinnock closing toight meeting apparently. I have to say that he, more than anyone, must kow how Gordon Brown feels - no one wanted or elected him to be PM either.

    And then there is the newcomer - at least to me - someone called Geraldine Smith MP, who has barely been off the news in the past few days. She appears to be a new type of "attack dog", getting out there criticising "rebel" MPs and preaching the New Labour message. She was just on TV again looking very pleased with herself, talking with a female government whip - can't remember her name. Perhaps Gordon has a vision of a new role for women MPs after all.

    Watching Geraldine Smith, she seems to be a strange mix of both Sarah Lancashire and John Prescott. She did come out with one good comment along the lines of "New Labour would address the things that matter to people, and the people are not worried about the career prospects of Caroline Flint or james Purnell". I can add to that comment - on one is worried about the career prospects of Gordon Brown either.

    What ever was said at tonights PLP meeting is largely irrelevant - the electorate have again been excluded from the process, and have basically stopped listening to what government politician have to say. It really doesn't matter what they say, just give the electorate the opportunity to vote and we'll let you know what we think.

  • Comment number 54.

    TH just phoned from Westminster Bridge. The traffic noise was loud but the jist of it is

    Mandy and the whips have spent most of the day warning Labour MPs that the supposed rebellion was not an option. The meeting, which finished a few minutes ago, was a foregone conclusion.


    An aide of Mandys, a little worse for the drink over his bosses latest victory, let slip the something interesting. Peters surprise support of the PM during the mass resignations was part of his new role (as he sees it) as kingmaker. His intention is to keep Brown as PM until the election, which even he assumes will be a disaster. From the ashes of whats left of New Labour, he intends to put forward Millibrand for the new leader and of course be at his right hand to guide him.

    So there we have it.

    Both Peter and Davids actions over the last week are laid bare. The PM will be sacrificed at the election and from his demise, a new New Labour will be reborn.

  • Comment number 55.

    Any one else watching Despatches on channel 4?

  • Comment number 56.

    #34 Astute analysis. But it ain't gonna happen.

    Looks like it's the end for the Labour Party, then. A crippled leader, a spineless cabinet, and backbenchers who would rather have 11 months of pay and expenses than try to save their Party. Remember the Canadian Conservatives? Same thing will happen to Labour, I fear, and we will have the SNP, UKIP and the BNP picking up traditional Labour seats come next summer.

    I cannot believe that Labour backbenchers are unaware of the loathing with which Mr Brown is regarded by the population at large. They just choose to ignore it for their own gain.

    An opportunity missed. How sad.

  • Comment number 57.

    nu-lab stinks worse than a rotting corpse in high summer

    Q."ow do u no wah a wotting curpse smells like..ey?"

    A.cuz i smell it every ruddy day. it's called bbc tv.

  • Comment number 58.

    What a great suggestion by #34 sagamix: "- unite behind new leader (probably Johnson)"

    With Boris at the helm, Labour would at least stand a better chance at the next election than with GB still in charge!

  • Comment number 59.

    Why doesn't anyone in the media put a few valid points to these labour ministers who constantly state that Brown is the best man for the job and what a good chancellor he was. Nonesense; as Chancellor he was always going on about being prudent but never set aside any monies "for a rainy day" but led us into the current financial quagmire. However I can hear the reply that the crisis is "Global" but if he had built up the UK coffers we would not have to borrow huge amounts to get us by. Also as can be seen quite clearly from the County Council elections and the European Elections the vast majority of the electorate clearly believe that he is not a leader who is capable of doing the correct thing for the country. All he is doing is feathering his own nest.
    My late mother who was a true labour supporter always said to me that the only thing that this Labour party is doing is looking after their own pockets and that was said before the expenses scandal.

  • Comment number 60.

    Brown isn't going anywhere. So for the good of the country, isn't it about time we just let him get on with the policies, or maybe the Tories and the Tory press and its followers are scared to see the possible results?

  • Comment number 61.

    Just finished listening to a stream of Labour sycophants caught by Sky and BBC reporters for interviews outside the Houses of Parliament after the PLP meeting. I was forced at a very early stage to reach for the sick bucket. Who on earth was the woman with a broad Lancashire accent and a liverbird haircut praising the P.M. for speaking with passion and integrity? Apparently he said that he had made mistakes and had faults but didn't name them. Once again the consensus was that it was down to policies and not personalities and if Gordon could listen better and engage more successfully he would achieve greater popularity. The phrase 'a leopard can never change its spots' comes to mind. Of all those who came on to praise The P.M. for his courage in facing down 5 critics with a few hundered supporters behind him I thought Jack Straw was the worst. I've never heard so much waffle in my life.
    He may have won over his MPs who are running scared of The Electorate but he certainly doesn't impress me nor the majority of people who voted in The Local and Euro Elections whose views he dismisses with such impunity.

  • Comment number 62.

    Labour MPs need to get real and understand the real choice they have.

    Do they get rid of GB, accept the next election is lost, but regain enough credibility to ensure they become the Official Opposition.


    Do they demonstrate a complete lack of political judgement and credibility and gift the role of Official opposition to the Liberal Democrats.

    I would have thought it was a no brainer, but then I'm not a Labour politician

  • Comment number 63.

    What tedious watching it all was. Even more so for those having to do the interviews.

    A procession of programmed sheep all saying the same things. Will someone please tell them we've all stopped listening. BAAAAH

    Money is a great healer especially when you can hang on to it for another twelve months. What more can I say?

    They should all be deselected and have to reapply for their jobs against other candidates. We should all see their CV's on the internet and vote for the one we think is best for our own area.

    Incumbents should also show an explanation for their expense claims.

    That way we may actually manage to choose an intelligent lot that can run
    a country in the interests of their paymasters the people.

    We will do it for free just to make sure we recruit people of a much higher calibre than most of the spineless bunch we saw today.

    This would also wipe out the nepotism which is so rampant in politics today. Politics is a paid profession and we desperately need more professionals in it.

    Definately a time for change

  • Comment number 64.

    33 flamepatricia,
    I am becoming more and more deeply impressed by your scintillating analysis of complex political, economic and social issues. I would be delighted to find out which political philosopher has influenced you the most, perhaps you could find the time to let me know.

  • Comment number 65.

    14 johncarrelson

    Are you for real? No, I thought not. Labour activists and pay-to-post'ers are easily to spot, you know.

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

    Selfishness that is all I can say about the Labour party. They beleive they are right while the electorate think they are wrong. The best way to get some respect back is to call a general election (you never know they might win). Lets get rid of the selfishness and get some respect back into our parliament.

  • Comment number 68.


    What's going on with Shahid Malik?

    He was meant to step down for a 'few days' while his expenses and living arrangements were investigated.

    It's been over three weeks now. Things have gone too quiet.

    What's going on?

  • Comment number 69.

    Brown is safe because if you look at all those who want a general election or replace Brown have some thing they want to hide

    1 They do not want any change in pay and allowances or they want another system that they can drive a coach and horses through as long as it is down to Brown it is likely to be so water tight that they can not make any extra cash out of it

    2 Conservatives want to scrap the minimum wage the proof is at this web link

    Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): I beg to move

    3 Conservatives want to change the Freedom of Information Act so it do's not apply to MP's the proof is at this web link

    David Maclean: I beg to move

    If you look at what the MP's are trying to get through parliament you get a good idea what we would be in fore if certain party's get elected at the next general election

  • Comment number 70.

    Turkeys don't vote for christmas, so (self-serving, spineless, troughing)Labour MPs who believe that a change of leader would cause a General Election sooner than the latest possible date (ie one year hence) will not oust Brown. A judas sheep shafts the rest because he is spared, so likewise Brown will do anything to stay in power even to the extent of consigning Labour to the wilderness. Unhappily for Brown and the rest of Labour, the Judas sheep and all the flocks all do die eventually. Still who cares, I'm a conservative!

  • Comment number 71.

    Seventeen years of the Tories were enough for me. Industries destroyed, hospitals closed by the bucket load, interest rates at 15% great for people with money, crippling for those with a mortgage. I think I can wait another eleven months.

    Oh and I don't recall John Major calling a snap election after the demise of Thatcher and regretably he went on to win.

  • Comment number 72.

    #60 - Yes we are scared of the results,

    Bankruptcy, High National Debt, Feral kids, large underclass, bloated beaurocracy. Lack of social cohesion, political correctness, 3500 new laws, high taxes etc etc

  • Comment number 73.

    This Government with its spin and moral decay have led to such voter dissatifaction with the policical classes that facists now represent us in Europe. Well done GB, that's your legacy, where does that put your moral compass?

  • Comment number 74.

    Whether it's possible, but if the Labour party hopes to avoid annihilation at the next election, there are two things that are essential.
    1 Unite. The spectacle of disunity turns electors off. Moreover, people like Caroline Flint demonstrate to Labour-leaning voters that too many members of the Government put themselves before the needs of the country. Whereas the Tories can get away with being more venal (because what "their" voters want is essentially competence, lower taxes & toughness on law & order), Labour can't. "Their" prospective voters expect a higher standard of ethics and a commitment to principles rather than self-advancement. Unless the anti-Brown faction shuts up (& I realise after Brown's years of disloyalty to Blair & riding roughshod over/smearing colleagues that won't be easy), the Labour party is guaranteed defeat at the next election.
    2. Somehow the party has to be seen to be returning to some basic principles - not in words, but in actions.
    I don't believe an annihilation is certain. The economy may provide some hope for Brown next year and at least some voters will return to their "natural" allegiance when it counts in a general election. But "natural" labour voters will need to be given reasons WHY they should vote for Labour again. Successfully managing the recession by doling out large sums to wealthy bankers isn't going to do it. If Labour means anything, it means equality of opportunity, fairness, community, social justice. It doesn't really look like that at the moment. If it can tackle its own sleaze convincingly, benefit from coming out of recession (if that happens) & get back to its basic principles, it has at least a chance of avoiding a catastophe.

  • Comment number 75.


    Thanks guys. Trawling through these threads I see that the daft woman with the faintly manic smile (obviously anxious to replace Hazel Blears) is in fact Geraldine Smith. The less I see of this particular lapdog the better.

  • Comment number 76.

    hi nick ask mr brown will there be a referendum on the lisbon traty now ukip came 2nd and clearly the public want one and you say NO!!


  • Comment number 77.

    Dear Majesty,

    Your Government only has 15% support in the nation.

    Your government has a person who was not elected by the people for the job of prime minister.

    Despite the clear will of the people your government will not do the honourable thing and call an election.

    Your government in so acting in this manner will damage the prospects of the nation. We can not afford political paralysis for a year when tough decisions have to be made, decisions that will not be made by a party that is trying to cling to power and has been shown o be mired in corruption.

    The nation would thank and applaud you for dissolving parliament and calling an election.

    It is your moment maaam to make history for a good cause by showing courage.

    Be great, take it.

    Your loyal Subject

    Jericoa of Leeds

  • Comment number 78.

    banging desks and cheering their leader?

    fantastic stuff.. put it on youtube someone please!

    if labour MPs are cheering their leader, a week after losing control of all their remaining county councils and the day after finishing 3rd in a national election to the conservatives and UKIP, it shows the country what a bunch of lilly livered, useless wastes of space they are!

    worst performances in labour's electorial history (with lowest ever percentage of vote) - british economy in tatters as a result of "new" labour policies - people having to work years longer as the UK pension pot has been destroyed by brown - a borrowing deficit that is greater than all previous budget deficits added together since the 2nd world war - with the promise of being the first government in history, ever to be able to repay £98 BILLION of debt, without a single cut in services or rise in taxation!

    voting wise, i respect anyone who uses their vote regardless of party, but people who are actually voting for brown and the labour party, just one question...

    how can you believe a single thing they are telling you?

  • Comment number 79.

    One good thing is that we still have "Badger" Darling in the Treasury.

    I can actually see him being next Labour Party leader. I think this would be a good choice for Labour - you can't not like the Badger!

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    critic @ 60

    "Brown isn't going anywhere. So for the good of the country, isn't it about time we just let him get on with the policies, or maybe the Tories and the Tory press and its followers are scared to see the possible results?"

    thats the problem... his policies are costing the british public heavily NOW and will continue to do so for more than a decade in the future.
    Hence, the disastrous drubbings in both the elections we have just had.

  • Comment number 82.

    When will people stop chanting the mantra of "Give Gordon more time".

    Crash has had his hand on the tiller for 12 years, 10 as Chancellor and 2 as P.M.

    It was oft claimed by former cabinet colleagues that they couldn't do what they wanted as GB was almost always in the loop and would strangle initiatives at birth.

    There is nothing, including illegal war, that Gordon hasn't had veto on for 12 whole years. If that isn't long enough then one extra year will do nothing other than give Labour MPs more time to pick up their 120k expenses for living in there sisters attic.

    He got us into the biggets mess ever. How on earth does he think he will get us out. Magic?

  • Comment number 83.

    60. At 8:44pm on 08 Jun 2009, therealcritic wrote:
    Brown isn't going anywhere. So for the good of the country, isn't it about time we just let him get on with the policies, or maybe the Tories and the Tory press and its followers are scared to see the possible results?
    As above, he's had 12 years of policies to do something useful and we end up with two BNP euro MPs at the end of it. Well done crash. Those are great results.

  • Comment number 84.

    Am I right in thinking tonight's meeting was behind closed doors? Why exactly? I will tell you. You can just imagine the Mandy spin machine at work to save Browns rear! For eg... Brown, "Wether you like me or not, support me because we cannot allow the far right to gain a bigger foothold in the future" blah,blah... Any codswallop to save their own interests! Last nights Far right gains, obviously make my stomach churn, but the Country is sending the biggest message possible to this shower! Wether you think the Country just needs a change of Labour Leadership or change of Government, it's irrelevant, the electorate over the last 48hrs have spoken! But it seems quite obvious now that this current shower are going to carry on regardless, despite what the people who they work for think!

  • Comment number 85.

    comments 71 and 72 are excellent our country is doomed......

  • Comment number 86.

    So the media campaign has failed to unseat Gordon Brown has it? Those MPs who have not yet come "out" are not going to come out,,, yet. It did seem a bit ridiculous to put him under so much pressure when he was trying to get on with his job.
    Gordon Brown is not so media-friendly as his predecessor. He's a refreshing change for some, who like to make up their own minds about people in power.
    It gives us all a breathing space. It gives us time to assess all our MPs and compare expense/allowance claims in all parties. It gives MPs time to connect again with their local activists and supporters.
    Most important it gives the London stock market a chance to continue improve steadily, without constant hiccups, which seemed to occur every time the Brown Government was put under pressure.
    It give us a chance to remind those MPs who need reminding that they were voted in to serve us and not themselves.

  • Comment number 87.

    Mr Robinson could you ask the have your say team to be a bit more lineant rather than creating an effective Stalinist media, most of my comments on Have your say haven't been published including my personal respect comment to our veterans of D-day

    Back to our subject, I'm glad that Gordon Brown is calling for unity, all parties must have this to achieve anything, I warn MPs that may feel the need to stand up to Brown that the labour party will slump 50% more than it has done at least if you all start arguing about a new leader.

    Just back brown, as David Blunket said either 'put up or shut up'

  • Comment number 88.

    What a complete shambles. Mandelson is now running the country by proxy. Brown is a malfunctioning liability and the rest of the Labour party are looking like creatures from a Francis Bacon painting.

    The psychology of the country is turning on its head against this spectacle of failure and hideous definition of democratic politics. How any of these imbeciles can think we are fooled by their rhetoric is laughable.

    Darling Brown Balls Mandelson et al, will you please close the door on your way out!

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    Gordon Brown will be ousted not by his spineless comrades but by the law of unintended consequences. Whilst Labour Party members have been working on every conceiveable wheeze to keep their snouts stuffed in the taxpayers' trough for as long as possible, the economy has been on the skids.

    As the realities of the Government's almost total loss of control of the economy evolves into harsh realities on the ground: in hospitals, in schools, in prisons, in the police force ... indeed anywhere and everywhere that public money is being sprayed, as usual, with unconditional abandon ... there will be unrest.

    Public sector workers will react to funds drying up precipitously; public sector unions will start flexing their muscles in response; the money markets will start making life difficult for Government and businesses (as if it's not bad enough already); citizens on the receiving end of all of the above will themselves become ever more restless.

    Brown will not be able to control any of this in the way that he controls, bullies and dictates to his Party comrades today. Seismic economic events will take on a life of their own in the coming months and will, in turn, foment (unpleasant) events in society. It will be this sequence of happenings that will eventually unseat Brown, like Poll Tax riots eventually saw off Margaret Thatcher.

    Whilst it's difficult to define and describe exactly how this scenario will pan out in reality - that's the nub of the problem for Brown and his supine Government - you can be sure it will happen. It's virtually inevitable as we slither towards public sector debt possibly soaring to 16% of GDP under a feeble, incompetent and ultimately dishonest Government with no plans to arrest spending and bring the economy under control.

    Brown will eventually exit ignominiously on the back of events, dear boy, events.

  • Comment number 91.

    Surprise surprise GB has survived. History counts and Labour has never deposed its leader. Brown needs to be bold now and emerge from this crisis with real policy on expenses, the House of Lords, the electoral system and reducing the size of the state.
    This last issue HAS to be tackled. Much better that it is taken on by people with a belief in social justice than the unctuous PR kings led by Dave Cameron. I fear for the country if the Bullingon club win the next General Election.

  • Comment number 92.

    I think we are all being a bit premature in assuming Brown is safe. Recently MPs have been rushed off their feet explaining their expenses to the media, the party and their constituents at the same time as electioneering for the polls. There has been little time for plots to develop and fester and for planning to take place. The crucial time will be the conferences in Autumn. If the party wants a new leader he or she needs to be in place to launch their election platform at the conference. I expect a summer of plotting and planning amongst Labour MPs worried about their seats.

    Meanwhile the Tories can have a well deserved rest and recharge their batteries for a long election run up starting in September. All they have to do is watch Labour tear itself apart and watch 'leader' Brown flounder around trying to patch together the remnants of the failed Zanulabour project.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well, Brown had better get a move on because who pays for a Chinese meal is riding on it. I have wagered that he will be gone by PMQs on Wednesday, so Nick's report has rather dismayed me.

  • Comment number 94.

    Oh for just a little debate on Policy.

    2 elections No policy debate
    The Robinson blog No Policy debate
    The mass media NO policy debate
    PMQs No policy questions.

    You would think at the moment there'd be just a tad of interest in perhaps the economic data good or bad, the lisbon treaty should Ireland ratify what then for UK, Proportional Representation Pros cons yes no.

    What will we get on wednesday, my prediction.

    1) Mr Speaker, I demand an election (here here, here here)

    2) I ask again Mr Speaker for a General Election NOW

    3) Dont give me that crap about the economy, we've been out for 12 years and its my turn, call an election now.
    4) G20 my ar*e, I just got 28% of the vote in a 34% turnout call an election.
    5) Look Brown, these Poll leads won't last forever you know and I've just heard PAXO wants an interview about Lord Ashcroft,he's not taking no for an answer, for the last time I want a goddam election.
    6) Electoral Reform?????? You can't do that you cheat, its my turn I tell you, its my turn.... Daddy, can I have a new pony?

  • Comment number 95.

    Its about time that Robinson started to get his teeth into the total lack of policies from the Tories and the schoolboy tactics of Clegg rather than to continue showing his predujice by bitching on about labour and its leader possibly it is not possible to find a tory policy but you know we are getting very very fed up with Camerons Eton approach to discussion....I am posh so therefore I am right ...well not in this house he I want my licence fee used to silence the jumped up Eton man please

  • Comment number 96.

    great haye @ 44

    you will get scrutiny of the Tory party WHEN they are in government. As it should be. Their policies are not the ones that have sunk the country

    nicely written post but you're dead wrong on the above - it is precisely the tories' policies (as followed by Labour) that have "sunk the country" - unrestrained free market capitalism, I'm referring to - ironic but there you are

  • Comment number 97.

    Amazing for several years after 97 you couldn't find a Tory for love nor money. Now they're everywhere. They'll have their day again and so will Labour

  • Comment number 98.

    95. At 9:53pm on 08 Jun 2009, oldsitkaspruce
    Here, here

  • Comment number 99.

    95. At 9:53pm on 08 Jun 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:
    Its about time that Robinson started to get his teeth into the total lack of policies from the Tories and the schoolboy tactics of Clegg rather than to continue showing his predujice by bitching on about labour and its leader possibly it is not possible to find a tory policy but you know we are getting very very fed up with Camerons Eton approach to discussion....I am posh so therefore I am right ...well not in this house he I want my licence fee used to silence the jumped up Eton man please

    If you look at my post 69 then search EDM's you will find some of things the Tories are looking to do when they get in to power

    And some of them do not make good reading for most people

  • Comment number 100.

    WHAT happens when nobody will buy GORDY'S DEBT MOUNTAIN OF GILTS as it

    goes OVER 100% of GDP?




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