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Starting gun fired on leadership contest

Nick Robinson | 11:27 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Deliberate, calculated and with intent.

That is the only possible interpretation of Hazel Blears' decision to resign today just before Prime Minister's Questions and on the eve of the last big electoral test ahead of the general election.

Hazel Blears

The Communities Secretary Blears has issued a statement in which she makes no mention of Gordon Brown's leadership. That will come though once the polls have closed.

A year ago she was one of five cabinet ministers who discussed resigning to force Brown out but never followed through. Today there is no sign that her resignation is part of an organised plot.

She decided to resign last night after meeting the prime minister yesterday afternoon in Downing Street.

At the meeting, I'm told, she "ventilated her anger" at the way he had publicly described her expenses claims as "totally unacceptable". They did not, however discuss whether she would resign from Cabinet or be moved in a re-shuffle.

Last night after the meeting she consulted allies and friends and drafted her letter of resignation. This morning she asked to see the prime minister again and informed him of her decision. I am told that the issue of his continued leadership was not discussed.

She has, though, now fired the starting gun on a leadership contest whose outcome is unknowable.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    If Blears manages to force Gordon Brown out from resigning then it can only be a good thing. Brown is a train-wreck of a leader and needs to do what I believe the majority of people in the Country wants - call a General Election.

    If he truly believes that the Country wants him in power to 'put things right' then he should face the Country.

  • Comment number 2.

    And they're off...

  • Comment number 3.

    Apart from other significant mistakes, Gordon Brown has made two massive gaffs in recent years. The first was in supporting Tony Blair in his catastrophic decision to invade Iraq and the second was in not clearing all of the Blairites out of the cabinet when he took over as leader.

    The right wing of the Labour Party, of which Blair was in the vanguard, has now virtually destroyed it with absolutely no help from any of the opposition parties.

    The core support of the Labour Party has always been from those who believe in social justice but because of Labour's shift towards the right, that support left them a long time ago.

    Good riddance to Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith and the sooner they are followed by Hoon, Straw, Parnell, Woolas, and Flint etc., the better.

    If Brown is to stay as Prime Minister he should beg Bob Marshall Andrews to stay and appoint him as deputy Prime Minister.

  • Comment number 4.

    AT LAST - a Liebour member does something right.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Nick,

    Autumn election, then. Only thing GB can do in order to avoid a conference season leadership election.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 6.

    And she would make a great Prime Minister wouldn't she?

    Nightmare. Why is it that so many politicians are either plain incompetent, or just complete morons?

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry, Nick, but it's NOT the only way to interpret this calculating woman's actions.

    She's 'resigned' because a resignation is far less personally damning than a sacking. And a sacking was all she could have expected in the reshuffle.

    Self-serving damage limitation is all she, Smith, and the others are capable of or interested in. certainly not 'their families' and certainly not 'the people', because if these were their driving fores, why did it take being caught with their noses so deeply in the trough to bring these 'values' to the fore?

  • Comment number 8.

    Go Hazel!
    Now I think we have someone with enough venom towards Gordon Brown to force a leadership contest.
    Hopefully we will get that general election within the next three months

  • Comment number 9.

    Presumably wants to spend more time with her allowance. Is Darling next? Whatever the the events of the next few hours and days this must represent Brown's nemesis and the end of an ethically corrupt Labour government.

  • Comment number 10.

    I find it mind-bogglingly pompous of these people that they might actually think we want ANY of them in positions of power after the next election.

  • Comment number 11.

    If Brown is forced out, there will be an empty space at the D-Day service for Her Maj. to attend. At least we'll have someone representing us that actually served their country.

  • Comment number 12.

    She is doing the decent thing under the circumstance. She was rightly censored by the PM. I hope her decision was well thought out and not politically motivated. One of life's lessons is not to take spur of the moment decisions and to calculate the consequences before you take an drastic action, such as resigning. I would have thought careful thought, taking expert advice and intelligent decision making is one of the most important requirements in an MP. As I've mentioned before elsewhere on this blog there is too much knee jerk reaction in politics at the moment, coupled with printed media attempts to win readers by printing what they think we want to read.

  • Comment number 13.

    Fiddling while home burns....

    At a time when we have both the biggest economic and environmental challenges we have ever faced in front of us all, MP's are have been caught with their hands in the till and the big issues become secondary events. Shame on them. Shame on Mr Brown for seemingly putting his selfish personal ambition ahead of the good of the country. For all our sakes including your own Mr Brown - call it and call it now.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.


    1200 BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that Europe minister Caroline Flint - a close ally and friend of Ms Blears - will not be resigning today

    Does this mean she will go tomorrow after the elections, or is she waiting to see if Brown falls on his sword himself. If he doesnt then she can resign herself to put another shot into the dead corpse

  • Comment number 16.

    That picture of Hazel and Big Gordy on the main beeb page... Is she standing with Gordy sitting? Is it a sloping floor? Is Gordon in a hole... Oh yeah... subliminal message... gettit now.

  • Comment number 17.

    3 Jackturk,

    The Blairites didn't destroy Labour. Hubris, arrogance and a vindictive, chip-on-the-shoulder class envy ever-so-slightly just beneath their slick surface was all it took to ensure Labour's inevitable demise. I expect few in the country will mourn their passing - let's bury the body now and let the Conservatives and Lim Dems get on with fixing our broken Nation.

  • Comment number 18.

    I sincerely hope that no change to the leadership or a general election comes whilst there is such turmoil generally in parliament and the electorate. At present the opposition is akin to "Triggers Broom" (see only fools and horses) loads of new handles and heads but still the same. To confirm this I watched William Hague, one of the ex new heads on Newsnight last night, and was amazed at his inability to answer a question or even shed a light on his European policy. It reminded me of his "1 Day to save the pound" what a load of twaddle that was. In light of the options Cameron offers for "change" I hope that retiring ministers standing down do not take encouragement from political journalists to stage an uprising.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well now, I wonder who is coordinating these serial resignations? I wonder if he has considerered having Mandy's fingerprints checked?

    I suspect that Gordy is so desparate to hold on he will threaten his own back-benchers with a general election (I go, you all go).

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely New Labour can't believe that the country wants yet another no-mandate intellectual pigmy as PM... can they?
    Is there any constitutional precedent for a third PM in one term?

  • Comment number 21.

    Quote "The Communities Secretary Blears has issued a statement in which she makes no mention of Gordon Brown's leadership."

    Nick, please explain to your readers how you can mention something that doesn't exist.

    The sub-Prime Minister, currently operating in Macavity mode, continues to display both his failure to even fake leadership, and his personal belief in his divine right to the office of Prime Minister.

    If he wasn't doing such damage to the economy by his pythonesque performance, it would be a comedy. Unfortunately, with this incompetent at the helm, it is a tragedy.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a nation we are in big trouble. We're virtually bankrupt and need a new govt and new budget asap.

  • Comment number 23.

    Worst case scenario is another unelected PM, will this happen next week?

    Does GB not realise that he (and his party) is finished, no more speeches about the "big issues....", that line is wearing thin...

  • Comment number 24.

    I really do not want to be unkind.

    Surely, however, Gordon Brown, even in his wildest dreams, cannot imagine he can just get a new Cabinet around him (if he can find enough reasonably untarnished Labour MPs to form one) and carry on for another year?

    Behind the 'I'm the best man for the task' and 'we must get on with the job' soundbites, he just has to be contingency-planning for the collapse of his premiership and/or the government - i.e. planning his jump before he is pushed and working out what he can personally rescue out of the mess.

    As for Hazel Blears for prime minister ... my straw polls suggest she is one of the political figures at which the most public venom is directed, following on from these recent scandals.

    Indeed, who really would be a contender for the Labour leadership that the public would have any confidence in whatsoever? Unless they're planning to bring Tony Blair back in somehow, or perhaps put Mandy forward.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick,

    I am genuinely concerned about this blog.

    Without confirmation of the source of the story (prevented, I know, by journalistic "ethics"), we are entitled to assume, given its content, that this blog simply represents dictation given by the Government.

    What evidence is there either for or against an organised plot?

    A simple confirmation that Brown's leadership wasn't discussed at their meeting isn't enough to prove that one way or another.

    So why make the point?

    Is it really the role of the BBC's political editor simply to re-produce Brown-grams (or indeed any Government-grams)?

  • Comment number 26.




    Good girl....

  • Comment number 27.

    Well, Blears has not resigned to "spend more time with her family" or with her Ducati or whatever. There's got to be no doubt that tomorrow night will be one of those nights when the knives come out and Labour will be around Gordon Brown like vultures. Perhaps GB should get off the phone to Susan Boyle and get on the phone to the Palace and call a general election now. He must know that he has got to go and it's the only way to restore any public faith at all in politics. This has got to be the most pathetic Government since Chamberlain came back to Britain waving a bit of paper.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hazel Blears has clearly jumped before shes pushed - and not before time. But what a disloyal and ruthless way to stick the knife in

  • Comment number 29.

    Well A PMQ's Mr Mr Brown said policy is what counts and says the government is taking the action people want to see.

    As the majority of opionion polls this week are calling for a early general election, I can only asume that the PM has call the palice and will be off to see the Queen this afternoon to disolve parliment.

  • Comment number 30.

    18. At 12:11pm on 03 Jun 2009, notfooledsteve wrote:
    I sincerely hope that no change to the leadership or a general election comes whilst there is such turmoil generally in parliament and the electorate.

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

    Read "I do not want the Tories in power and hope that Gordon Brown will go to any lengths to prevent it, using whatever excuses are necessary no matter how thin".

    I am afraid that we still live in a democracy, sir, in name at least, and if people do not want GB to be Prime Minister, or NuLab to be in power, then they have no right to be.

  • Comment number 31.

    Democracy - Government by the people (hah!) FOR the people (double hah!). I want the dictionary to change the definition:
    Democracy - Government by those that think they are better than the people for themselves.
    Everyone answers to someone - Labour need to answer to us.
    The only way that GB and co can possibly show they are listening is to go and pay Her Maj a visit and ask her to dissovle parliament.
    Can QE do this herself? She would create nothing but support for the Royal Family if she just sacked GB et al. I'll get started writing my letter.

  • Comment number 32.

    Come On Gordon the ride is finished.

    All this nonsense regarding it being his duty to sort the Make up of the British Political System.

    I am mind full when my yongest son was about 5 years old on a merry go round ride, when it came to a halt he kept rocking back and forward, in an atempt to keep it going.

    I had to convince him that the ride had finished and it was time to get off, and go home.

    Come on Gordon, dinners ready.

  • Comment number 33.

    Brown says policy is what counts and says the government is taking the action people want to see.

    (beeb coverage of PMQ's)
    ---------------

    NO YOU ARE NOT. NEITHER I NOR ANYONE I KNOW WANT TO SEE YOU OR YOUR ICOMPETENT DESPERATE FUMBLING AT THE REIGNS OF THIS COUNTRY FOR ANOTHER SECOND.

    How dare this man presume to speak for what people want.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick

    You are right when you say "not part of an organised plot" because it's part of a disorganised plot.

    Whatever happened to the Labour Party? They can't even organise their plots efficiently anymore.

  • Comment number 35.

    'I am glad to be going home to the people who matter the most to me: the people of Salford.'
    After reading some of the comments in her local newspapers I can only say that Hazel Blears' warm feelings for the people of Salford are not reciprocated.

  • Comment number 36.

    He is a dead man walking on a sinking ship - about time. Crash Gordon deserves to go because he broke his election promise to have a referendum. Bring on the EU election - our first chance to show our feelings since Tony Blair won the last election 5 years ago -

  • Comment number 37.

    this is a diversion to deflect public anger over MPs expences when will it be reported that The police and HMRC are investigating. From the information reported so far Flipping is tax evasion Phantom mortgages is fraud claiming for battle of Britain charity donations is insulting our armed forces dead and alive.the taxpayer wants to know how many toxic MPs we have, so we can make a balanced decision on how to vote for.

    Mr Robinson why are you not reporting and or looking into it?

    I was further outraged yesterday when listening to part of a BBC phone in when a retiring serviceman who had dodged muck and bullet's for 23 years has been told his resettlement grant is £550, How is that right when we hear about MPs who lose their seats at a general election get parachute payments of tens of thousands of pounds.
    At first glance the system seems totaly corrupt

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick
    Why are you trying to read so much into this? If he does nothing then he's accused of acquiescence in the expenses fandango. If he invites certain collagues to fall on their swords and one of them throws a hissy fit on the way down, it's a leadership plot. You need to get out more, Nick.
    Personally I'll not miss the simpering nonentity. Along with Smith, Hewitt and Hughes, she's unlikley to feature large in my grandchildrens' history books.

  • Comment number 39.

    How often our politicians tell us 'no vote no voice' surely the best response to the last few weeks would be loud silence at the polls tomorrow.

  • Comment number 40.

    PMQ's Again...

    "Another friendly question from a Labour MP on expenses - asking the PM to focus on MPs who have second jobs. Mr Brown responds by attacking shadow cabinet members over such employment."

    Just exactly how many books and speaking arangements has he written/taken since becoming a Minister in the goverment. But then he claimed 100% of the bills running to thousands to clean a flat solely and exclusivly belonging to his wife.

  • Comment number 41.

    Nick,

    you got Blears side of the story with the spin she wants on it, how about getting Gordons side and seeing if they match. Somehow don't think they will.

    #7 has a good alternative reading and one which is more in keeping with Blears prior form, spiteful arrogance. She still obviously doesn't think she has done anything wrong in her flipping and tax avoidance and I suspect Gordon probably repeated his previous public statement about it at which point she finally got the message, reshuffle sacked then referred to the NEC review panel.

    She now has reacted to form to try to head off the end of her political career which if referred would mean she could never even stand for a parish council let alone parliament.
    If Gordys gone then she will have calculated that in the general fargo around a leadership challenge she will escape the clutches of the NEC review panel.

  • Comment number 42.

    A Loaded question: On Politics Today, why was Caroline Spelman wearing mauve high socks?

  • Comment number 43.

    They should have a countdown clock with circa 48 hours + 24 grace to see "How long till Gordon gets it" - then he resigns.

    Then they have to call a general election and the Tories have not yet really defined their policies - banking regulation and economic re-balancing. They barely exist in Scotland and Wales and 2010 is looming.

    Suddenly Cameron may look like a crusty toff obstructing sensible change to the constitution and voting system so that we never risk having a two party system where neither is electable.

    Elected houses of Parliament modeled on Congress and the Senate. A written constitution. A republic and PR - like the rest of the world where they tend to get higher voter turnout because all of the votes count.

    Possibly I am dreaming - but in the meantime I can look forward to seeing Brown get some of his just deserts. I might get some sparkly wine and toast what I hope will be a good night for the Lib Dems if people can now see the basis of their "boring" arguments on reform and democratic regeneration and others vote for them as a viable outlet for protest.

  • Comment number 44.

    Not "Get thee to a nunnery", rather "Get thee to the Priory"!

  • Comment number 45.

    Well all the dirty ministers are getting out before they are pushed out
    and they hope that by getting out they will force a leadership contest but this will not do any thing for us all it will let some one in to allow MP's to make changes to parts of the law that apply to MP's to cover up there scams

  • Comment number 46.

    Every time I see/hear political news lately I can hear (the classic) circus music...seriously; its like watching Big Brother although we cant text to vote them out.

    Shouldn't BrownClown just call it a day and call a general election? If he's right and the people do want him then we deserve what we receive; if he's wrong then he has done the (half) decent thing and allowed the country to move on.

    Gordon, you clearly believe in people and are righteous in your social agenda beliefs; its just you are talking and no one is listening...

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm still a little unclear from this blog exactly how Hazel Blears has fired the starting gun on a leadership election? She resigned because she knew she was going to be sacked from the Cabinet and saw the former was preferable to the latter in terms of her own self-esteem. There is no 'premise leading to conclusion' in the piece, just 'Blears resigns ergo leadership contest' with no demonstrable explanation as to how this conclusion is reached. I don't doubt there will be stirrings behind the scenes, but it's not made clear in this piece how her resignation fits in the wider picture of Brown and Labour's future.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am not over enthused about an election now because I don't think the alternative is much better - and it may take the pressure of the need for reform. The same is true about a Gordon Brown resignation - it may lance the boil and allow them to limp on for a while.
    However, having said both of those things, it is clear that neither Gordon Brown nor the Labour Party has the public confidence at the moment and it is sheer arrogance for them to continue on in these circumstances.
    Hazel Blears getting her own back? Well, whatever I think of her, who would blame her if she did?

  • Comment number 49.

    There is one problem at the moment, im not sure that the Queen will actually see Brown if he requests and audance.

    After the total loss of respect for parliment and the damage the expenses row under his watch is causing and the massive snub he gave her over the 65th service in normandy.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hazel Blears resignation was timed to perfection. She has hardly had a good relationship over the past few years and this is the nail in the coffin.

    Surely the PM must call an election now. He has no support from his own party, the other major parties are making a mockery of him and the public have no faith in him or his government.

    Its about time for him to step back and let David Cameron run the country.

  • Comment number 51.

    To quote the famous line from Gilbert & Sullivan's song "I've got a Little List" : "they'll none of them be missed, they'll none of them be missed" !!

    ....Next ?...

  • Comment number 52.

    Good riddance. As has been pointed out here already, she jumped before she was pushed out. She should have gone weeks ago as should Ms Smith.

    Gordon Brown's position has been untenable for a long time but only he aint budgin'. Under his tenure Labour has become an unelectable mess. If another leader took over now, Labour might ... I stress might ... survive an election. As it stands ... Brown has to go.

  • Comment number 53.

    The sooner we get all of this lot off to answer charges on International War crimes the better.

    The fact the Tories supported the Iraq war makes then unelectable.

    If our elected representatives lie to go to war, then resigning over expenses is really banal.

  • Comment number 54.

    Brown's old policy

    tax and spend and tax and spend and tax and spend.

    Brown's new policy

    Spend and tax and spend and tax and spend and tax.

  • Comment number 55.

    if there is a leadership contest (again i think gordon would rather push the self destruct button & call an election first), then i'm looking forwards to seeing which ego driven fool grasps the poison chalice with both hands thereby establishing a permanent political identity as a complete idiot.

  • Comment number 56.

    The carrot topped pgymy women strikes back eh?

    The political suicide of women Labour MPS [Blears, Smith et al] have simply diverted attention from the issue of English disenfrancisement: the English electorate torn by the EU on one side and ripped by Scottish political opportunism on the other. No wonder the English electorate is disenchanted

    While chaos ensues in Westminister it is 'curious' that we hear nothing about the prospective scandals coming from the expenses claims of Members of the Scottish Parliament. [And those of MPs representing Scottish seats in Parliament]. Where can we get information on these costs? For the English taxpayer the Scottish expenses are a matter of taxation without representation. The political and media silence on this issue is deafening.

    The building, running and ongoing expensing of the Scottish Parliament may come to be seen as one of the largest rips offs of the UK taxpayers in living memory.

    Blears is a case of a small bit player, a women scorned, who provides a useful diversion away from the real issues including the dis-enfranchisement of the English voter. A UK Government comprising of predominantly Scottish Ministers [PM, Chancellor and many others]is hardly the most likely group to act against their own national interests.

    Blears' action today may serve UKIP well in the EU elections tomorrow.

  • Comment number 57.

    If the expenses row eventually results in increases in MPs pay, it's likely that their salary will approach 100k.

    That's the point at which Brown proposes to start withdrawing personal allowances, creating a marginal tax rate of 61.5% once you add in NIC.

    I wonder if MPs will be so in favour of such taxation when they get to keep just 38.5% of following pay rises....

  • Comment number 58.

    At this rate, the following will happen in the reshuffle......

    GB as PM and no cabinet. GB will be doing everything himself, after all he's clearly the only one capable of saving the country. If his past is anything to go by, I don't like the look of this future.

    GB, follow the example of all those that have resigned, go back to your constituency and never show your face in public again.

    The more this goes on, the more I'm determined to go out there and make my mark on the ballot and I can guarantee with 100% certainty that Labour will not be getting my vote. It has taken New Labour 12 years to destroy this country and it will take far longer than 12 years for me to forget about what GB and New Labour have done.

    Who do I want to replace GB as leader of New Labour........I can't stand any of those that are currently in the position to take the job on.

    New Labour under Tony Blair tried to be everything to everyone by moving the party away from it's roots as a party of the left, of social justice and the people and instead all the party has done is hit the self destruct button by separating themselves as Blairites and Brownites, those of the left and those of the right, etc. New Labour no longer has an identity because Tony Blair was the symbol of New Labour and look how long it fell apart since Tony left. And what do the people get, proof that in trying to be everything to everyone the party has become nothing to the vast majority of people in this country.

    Let's start digging the grave for New Labour. RIP.

    The next part is that David Cameron seems to be basing himself on the Tony Blair style, I have no idea what this means for the future but I want GB out.

    GB, it's time to start listening to the people you serve and stop living in the world where you constantly tell yourself that everything's fine and that everybody loves you. WE DON'T, SO PLEASE RESIGN AND CALL AN ELECTION.

  • Comment number 59.

    Bye bye Hazel. Good ridence to bad rubbish. Brown was right, her expenses are totally unacceptable. Should be entertaining to see her return to her grass roots in Salford. I'm not so sure that the Salford working class, she so vehemently claims to still be a member of, would identify with the property portfolio grabbing, prestige motorbike wielding tax dodger.

  • Comment number 60.

    Never really liked Hazel Blears, in fact I have criticised that inane, cheshire cat smile of hers many times on here in the past but in this particular instance I am right behind her because I dislike the arrogance and incompetency of Brown even more!

  • Comment number 61.

    What an unusual phenomenon - a Labour Cabinet Member doing the honourable thing! Let us hope that Thursday deliver Mr Brown the mother of all drubbings - then may be (like swine flu) "doing the honourable thing" might become infectious amongst the Cabinet such that Brown stands down.

    That is the dream scenario. However, more likely will be that we will enter the last days of the Labour Reich with Brown and his bunch of cronies lead by Balls adopting a bunker mentality and cling on until the bitter end - for all of us!!

    Let us hope and pray that UK will be able to rise once more out of the ashes of a failed Gordon Brown premiership.

  • Comment number 62.

    I have, for many years, had the opinion that the great tragedy of the Labour Party in particular, and of politics, in general, was the death of John Smith. I am a lifelong Tory voter, but even I would have voted for him!

  • Comment number 63.

    Blears flips off home!...'now which one's home again?'

    I'm gonna miss that cheery little smile...those beady little eyes...the ginger hair...sob! sob!

  • Comment number 64.

    Democracy in its current form is flawed. It does not encourage the best minds and the best leaders to come forward to run the country.

    Something drastic needs to change way beyond the tinkering at the edges of the democratic system the incumbent ' party centric' political elite are suggesting.

    Gordon brown had no true mandate for power yet he clings and he clings and he clings, his expenses record may not be bad but he suffers from the worst corruption of all, his personal desire to retain power, he had no qualms in employing individuals like damian mcbride to such effect.

    jericoa

  • Comment number 65.

    #53:

    Many MPs on all sides voted for war against Iraq because they believed the fibs being touted by Bush and his puppy dog Blair. You can't tar them all with the same brush just because they were fearful of the quick strike by supposed weapons of mass destruction. Only a few were party to the real truth of the matter. It will be interesting to see what is done about North Korea where the threat is far more real.

  • Comment number 66.

    couple of names (one first name, one last name) that Cameron is frightened off right now - funnily enough, they both begin with H

  • Comment number 67.

    Nick

    Surely there is a clue in the plot : Patricia, Jacqui, Beverley, and now a Hazel, and to boot, all within 48 hours of major elections. Unless you are intent, you would have the decency to wait until after Thursday.

    Give Harriet a call and I think that she will help you.


    Noplot


  • Comment number 68.

    Make a sentence from the following words...

    sinking, rats, ship, leaving, a

  • Comment number 69.

    two points I'd like to make:-
    firstly Ms. Blears said "My politics has always been rooted in the belief that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, given the right support and encouragement" Correct Hazel, you are very ordinary and you did extraordinary things; you were one of the most ordinary cabinet minister I have had the misfortune to witness and your denials of wrongdoing are at least extraordinary. The people of Salford are not so witless as you obviuosly think they are. Don't be naive enough to believe that you'll be welcomed back into the arms of these 'ordinary' people, patronising people is almost as bad as misappropriating their hard earned cash.
    secondly, regarding a leadership contest. This is a misnomer as GB is not a leader, hence he cannot take part in a leadership contest. There was never a leader who waited 11 years for his predecessor to retire. Had GB been anything resembling a leader he'd have ousted that master of smoke and mirrors as soon as he realised how little of what he preached would be put into practice. New Labour is dead, a classic case of the emperor's new clothes finally revealing the underlying nakedness.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

    Ha ha,

    she's fooling no-one. Her political career has been holed below the waterline and she's baling madly to stay afloat. This waffle about getting back to grassroots and family - does she think we're all fools. Goodbye Hazel, you'll not be missed.

  • Comment number 72.

    66 Saga

    Not Enry Iggins!

  • Comment number 73.

    She won't be missed she has never done anything in the cabinet and she has certainly done nothing for Salford. She should go one better and leave parliament all together.

  • Comment number 74.

    For those calling for an early election:

    Do you think the Blue Party will do any better?

    While both politicians and senior civil servants have been on a mission to destroy Gordon from the moment he took over (not helped by the fact Gordon seems incapable of thinking on his feet - unfortunately you can't spend months mulling over policies when you're in the top job!), I sincerely doubt we'd have weathered the economic storm under The Blue Party - who IIRC weren't in favour of the National Minimum Wage, hated the concept of Welfare to Work schemes, and until the banking collapse were in favour of increased deregulation for the financial sector.

    Oh, and The Red Party and The Blue Party seem to be neck-and-neck with politicians announcing they won't be standing at the next general election. If The Telegraph continue with their disclosures, presumably at some point they'll run out of Red Party MPs and start focussing on Blue Party MPs...

    Then of course someone might start examining the Register of Members' Interests, which reveals many MPs with additional sources of income...

    For example, one MP has received a £100,000 advance (plus performance bonus) for writing their 3rd and 4th books.
    Another receives £50-£55,000 a year for a newspaper column.
    Another has received £40-£45,000 for consultancy work to a legal firm.
    And another had an all-expenses paid trip to the Singapore Grand Prix courtesy of a tobacco firm...

    Only rarely do you find the words "Nil" or "(Donated to charity)"...

  • Comment number 75.

    You simply couldn't write this stuff!
    Its clear that Leadership and authority are completely shattered. I personally think that GB is a damn fine politician but his public image and persona have yaken such a battering that his time is nigh.
    The problem we have is that there is no credible alternative. Labour are repeating the slide that saw Major's government descend into chaos and the result will be 10-15 years in the wilderness for them as well.

    With so much back biting, plotting and personal ambition going on, who the hell is running the country ?

  • Comment number 76.

    If Brown's pushed out then they'll be forced to have a general election immediately. Failure to do so would result in massive riots; having 1 unelected PM was bad enough, having 2 unelected PMs in a row would be something that the public would not tolerate.
    Go for it hazel.

  • Comment number 77.

    Dad's Army, You have been served, Hallo Hallo, and now... LABOUR. What a great series to follow for any foreigner. Every evening coming home I can't wait to switch on the TV and watch...... LABOUR POLITICS. Great show. Great developments. The only downside the country is on its way down and fast.

  • Comment number 78.

    The only good thing left about Labour was that they had a minister who's a biker. Gordon would look truly awful in leathers. Now Hazel's gone we need an immediate election!

  • Comment number 79.

    I have mixed feelings........ on one hand I'm glad Hazel is doing the right thing. The country needs rid of Gordon Brown.

    On the other hand, we also need rid of Labour and the prospect of someone like Alan Johnson running the country in order to try and protect as many Labour seats at an election as possible (whilst the country continues to go to the dogs) is truly miserable.

  • Comment number 80.

    Gordon Brown keeps saying the Conservatives have no policies. With Labour's record of 'stealing' Tory ideas I'm not surprised none have been announced.
    If Gordon really wants to know how Cameron intends to run the Country, let him call an election now and give us all a chance to see those policies.

  • Comment number 81.

    After the General election I think we will see major changes to highlight just how bad things became under Labour.

    I hope we shall see a return to the kind of Politics where the leaders do what is best for the country. Labour spent far too long doing what they wanted to do for their own warped political ends or divide and conquer. Control of the Populace that kind of thing.

    I think Clegg and Cameron get the point that they are our servants and not our Masters. The arrogance of the small minds on the front bench just never got that HUGE point.

    Harman, Smith, Blears, Flint (awful woman), Hoon, Balls, Cooper etc. See themselves as part of the untouchable elite. OUR RULERS.

    You only have to see Smith's reaction to being caught with her hand in the Till to see that they are self obsessed control freaks.

    Good byeee.

  • Comment number 82.

    Don't write-off Gordon yet! The economic measures taken over the last year can bear fruit in a mini-boom in the housing sector by this time next year.

    In the UK, house prices = votes (yes, since the 1980s it IS as simple as that); Rising house prices = more votes; falling house prices = less votes. Thus, when QE kicks-in fully and house prices start rising it may just be in the nick of time to save Gordon's majority.

    Off course, after that any government will have only one real option - to cut public borrowing and slash spending. They will either do this volutarily or through IMF pressure, regardless of political promises.

    Politically then, the question for the longer term is which party can manage and survive during a period of falling standards of living and unemployment for a significant percentage of the UK population



  • Comment number 83.

    It would seem that Blears is running for the Clair Short resignation award for 2009 - the wrong person at the wrong time.

    It is shocking that we have been so diverted from the very real agenda that will take place tomorrow about britian's future engagement with Europe.

    Expenses are one thing, but we are facing a large contingent of UKIP MPs representing the UK to our EU allies after tomorrow.

    This is not funny - 2 UKIP MEPs have been charged with Fraud, one with money laundering. They are a disreputable party who's only policy document denies the Human element of Climate Change (see UKIP website).

    Where is the Media? Blears is undoubtably big news, but the media has been suffering from ADHD in the run up to June 4th.

    [For moderators who removed my previous comment involving UKIP, I include links to news reports about the 2 MEPs charged (one convicted) with fraud:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/6975627.stm
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6136068.ece ]

  • Comment number 84.

    Leaving aside the fact that politicians of all parties have colluded in a state of affairs that allowed them not only to have free dinners,but the writing their own menu.The departure of Blears,the wretched "Jaqui"Smith,et al is no suprise.No honour,no talent,no decency, no "plots".Simply a consumate desire to save themseves rather than serve the people.Blears is electioneering already, and seems to have suddenly remembered her only mission in life, is to help the good folk of Salford.I am uncomfortable with the decription "lame duck" Prime Minister, a duck is both deightful and useful, with or without orange sauce.

  • Comment number 85.

    Thank you, Hazel.

    It's as if you've sacrificed your post to lever Brown out... excellent !

    Having Brown as PM is not good for the country.

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    Well, she's not exactly a Geoffrey Howe and I doubt after her expenses behaviour her going will evince that much empathy with anyone. There's still about 400 Labour MPs to pick ministers from. Gordon Brown should have propelled her posterior to the roadside with his shoeleather with much more alacrity. But then again violent dispatches are not really his style. Far more fun to let the wolves turn on her while turning a blind eye. It's easy when you're Cameron to sack someone quickly - you don't have to form a government from your minions.

  • Comment number 88.

    They say it ain't over till the fat lady sings, but she's surely warming up the old pipes right now!

  • Comment number 89.

    Make up a sentence using the following words:

    `Brown'

    `Library'

    `Large whisky'

    `Loaded revolver'

  • Comment number 90.

    I now hope that HMRC are beginning their investigations into Miss Blears.
    Brown is gone in all but in reality. Tragically we are going to be forced to see him slowly lose his grip over the coming weeks and possibly months, though for his sake and that of his family he should call the election soon.
    As a fellow human being this is too much for one person to take and I hope his health - both mental and physical - is able to cope with this

  • Comment number 91.

    "The Captain goes down with the sinking ship" Who would want to be, (or be stupid enough), to be promoted to Captain and told to stand on the bridge when the ship is clearly going down.
    If there was any sign of Brown giving up the leadership you might find quite a few more running down the mooring ropes !!

  • Comment number 92.

    "Jackturk wrote:
    The core support of the Labour Party has always been from those who believe in social justice but because of Labour's shift towards the right, that support left them a long time ago."

    I expect the core support of most parties believe in social justice they just disagree on how to promote it.

  • Comment number 93.

    Excellent! Next please....

  • Comment number 94.

    "akimhornsey wrote:
    Hazel Blears has clearly jumped before shes pushed - and not before time. But what a disloyal and ruthless way to stick the knife in"

    I am no fan of Hazel Blears but if someone is going to push you out to save their own selves do they really deserve your loyalty?

  • Comment number 95.

    Labour, fourth on the fourth.

  • Comment number 96.

    I want Harriet to take over the reins, with Caroline Flint as secoond in command.

    Then we would be finally rid of Labour for ever.

    HH is possibly the most despised politician of any colour. She might play to the Labour PC brigade where "all men are rapists" but she is, seemingly, reviled by just about everybody else. Only Jacqui Smith seems to match her myopic control freakery and man hating. (you can feel the pity for JS's husband now.)

    Flint is just plain obnoxious, watching her on Question Time reminds me of some really bad relationships gone by. "You are wrong, totally wrong, let me tell you why you are wrong, shut up, you are not listening, listen, this is why you are wrong."

    Hateful woman. Call me mysogynistic if you wish, but there is something unedifying about this woman trying to out-man a man. Ugggh!

  • Comment number 97.


    It's a shame Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor etc are either getting old or no longer with us. I'd just love to see their rendition of "Carry on Gordon"

  • Comment number 98.

    Brown and the Labour Party are not stupid. The noise over the expences and resignations are all very welcome. The real stories, which now are of no interest are the economy and the war. Rising unemployemt with more bad news to come would be hard to handle but are hidden with the focus on other issues. Brown is preparing to announce an early election but an election like no other. He will go to the country on just 2 issues. One reform of Westminster and the second to force through PR so that the country can have another election in early 2010 under the PR voting system. That way his legacy is intact, the Conservatives are destroyed and the UK's position in Europe is strengthened. That is why so many MP's are running for cover early, it's got nothing to do with expences, it's all to do with getting off the train before it changes direction. Just wait and see!

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm beginning to think Brown should stay in. It seems all the worst of his party (apart from him himself of course) are leaving of their own accord under his leadership!

    First Jacqui Smith, now Blears. Hang in their Brown, you just need to get rid of Milliband, Burnham, Darling and a few others and the worst of your party will be gone.

    Don't hang in too long though, as eventually we need rid of you too, but at least Labour with it's totalitarian agenda for the last few years will be dead and gone. Hopefully so far gone that perhaps we can have real change - change as in having the Liberal Democrats become a viable second party then maybe, one day, a viable runner to be the first party.

  • Comment number 100.

    #56. BuffsRawlinson

    if your narrow obviously bigotted views had not got in the way of reasoned arguement you might have noticed the following facts which are at odds with your rant.

    1: The Scottish Parliament sorted out expenses and allowances in a far better and cheaper form long ago. They are published and are readily available already. So there are no great scandals awaiting publication on MSPs at all no matter how much you would like it to be so.

    2: Perhaps it is because there are few MPs of note from Scotland in all parties that their expenses are not being published - Brown, Darling, Salmond and Campbell have had their 5 minutes. Or perhaps in a good old cliche the rest are parsimoniuous Scots who haven't actually fiddled a thing hence there is nothing to publish.

    3: The question you refer to is called the West Lothian question and would in a rational debate on constitutional change and reform be part of the deabte - but due to expenses ranting we are set to be denigned rational debate and real reform which would address this seriously.

    4: Ministerial positions - Blears - English, Smith - English, 2 Milibands - English, Straw - English, Johnson - English , Mandelson - errr English, Hoon - go on guess, Benn - have another go, Balls and Cooper - err really guess. Try not to let facts get in the way of a good prejudice old chap, there are very few Scottish MPs in ministerial positions barring the PM and Chancellor.

    5: UKIP obviously being your chosen party are likely to do well tomorrow as a result of the expenses scandal - after all only 20% of the UKIP MEPs elected last time have been convicted of fraud in the intervening period, makes them seem positively gleaming doesn't it. I also missed the bit where the UKIP MEPs made a show of donating their overgenerous expenses to worthy causes (and not to UKIP coffers but to Oxfam, Hospices and other charities) - like some of the Swedes have done for example.

    All for debate but little englander bigotry just gets my goat.

 

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