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'This is no big deal'

Nick Robinson | 12:06 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

This morning, I interviewed John Hutton, following his resignation.

I asked him why he took a decision which delayed what many see as the inevitable fall of Gordon Brown and whether he's given up fighting for the Labour Party.

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  • Comment number 1.

    It would be much better for Cameron et al, if Gordon leads Labour at the next general election and even better if Darling is at his side.

    Labour will look back on this as a missed opportunity as they sit it out on the opposition benches next time around.

    How out of touch are these politicians? Almost incredible.

  • Comment number 2.


    Your comment about John Hutton (below) being one of the three things shoreing up Gordon Browns position.

    "Third, the judgement of John Hutton - once one of Gordon Brown's fiercest critics - that he would leave the cabinet but would make clear that it was for family and not for political reasons."

    This is a somewhat distorted and exaggerated interpretation of the events! If a minister resigning and not criticising Gordon Brown is now viewed as a "positive" and "shoreing" by you, and presumably the Number 10 spinning machine, then things really are bad. This looks like end game to me.....

  • Comment number 3.

    Cmon Nick, you can do better than this! Take a leaf out of Paxman's book. How on earth can Hutton claim to be giving Gordon his full support?? And why is he leaving politics??

  • Comment number 4.


    People are losing their homes, people are losing their jobs, private pension funds are ruined, companies are suffering, car manufacturers are teetering.....everyone is being hammered...EXCEPT THE CULPRITS, who are being handed billions to bail them out of their self-created mess, and to continue with their lavish lifestyles.

  • Comment number 5.

    Just coincidence he quit today eh? Did you interviww him before breakfast? How many other impossible things did you accept by then?

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not deserting the 'cause'...
    I'm totally loyal to Gordon Brown...
    I'm totally supportive of the Labour Party...
    I'm off at the earliest possible opportunity...

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    More evidence of Labour MPs completely losing touch with reality from the appropriately named Bill Rammell:

    Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell says all of the major parties should be worried about the emerging results of the county council elections - not just Labour. "I'm particularly concerned about the increase in the vote for the BNP," he says. "This is a concern to all the mainstream parties."

    This would be the BNP with a grand total of 0 seats thus far? Not sure how much of a threat that is, doesn't sound terrifying if I'm honest.

    I'm not sure if Nick has mentioned this yet, but it appears as though all Labour ministers believe that the only issue right now is MPs expenses, and they are surprised that Labour seem to be suffering more than most for it.

    WAKE UP!

    People have not been happy for some time, it is an accumulation of many things going back as far as the announcement that we HAD to go to war with Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction, and the realisation that 12 years of Labour government has cost a fortune and delivered very little in terms of improvements. Blinkered, Stubborn, or just wildly out of touch? Are these really the best people we can get to run our country???

  • Comment number 9.

    This is turning out to be something of a soft shoe shuffle.

    Events have meant Brown is stuck in a sort of chess game not of his liking but he has to put up with it.

    Re European Elections: Any upsurge to the far right parties' popularities (eg BNP) is not primarily a protest vote it is a vote against the appalling unchecked ignored levels of unacceptable immigration in our country, changing its face forever and against many of our wishes.

    We were never asked if we wanted our neighbourhoods changed like this and when we speak our thoughts we get told we are racists and told how we should talk and feel about it.

    Watch out for the rise and rise of the far right across Europe.

    In the General Election (bring it on please) I will vote Conservative and hope they get the feelings of the public from these council and European elections - I think they will.

  • Comment number 10.

    Considering the spineless attitude of MPs like Blears (All of Manchester and Salford are shamed by her behaviour), and the expenses scandal, is it time for a "Britans got Political Talent" contest to see if we can replace those who have let us down so badly.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think you're losing sight of why this re-shuffle is happening now. It looks from a quick scan of local govt websites that Labour's share of the vote is going to be shocking, possibly in the mid teens. If GB had waited for the reults he would have been toast but by diverting attention away from the results and buying himself 48 hours he might just survive. Just imagine what the BBC front page would look like of no re-shuffle today. It's classic Mandelson tactics and I'm amazed none of the journalists refer to it.

  • Comment number 12.

    People are asking why Miliband and Johnson aren't delivering the coup de grace to Brown, well the answer is simple. If Brown is deposed now the leadership contest will set off an incredibly bloody civil war in the Labour Party as the Brownits, led by the Cooper-Balls' go looking for a bloody vengeance on the Blairites. The party will be virtually torn apart, shades of the Asquith/Lloyd-George battles that destroyed the old Liberals in the wake of WW1, and could end up coming third in terms of votes cast at the elecetion. It is far better to let Brown limp on and lead the party to electoral carnage. This will totally discredit the Brownites, Balls may even lose his seat in Morley, leaving the way clear for the Blairites to regain the leadership afterwards and rebuild the party without Brown's sniping that hampered Blair.

    The election will still be on May 6th next year unless something even more dramatic happens, just think folks, we have practically another whole football season to go through before we can turf this bunch of losers!! There may not be enough of a country left by then!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Now that things are getting a little tough at the office, quite a few MPs are to spend more time with their families. That's a nice luxury to be able to afford.

    I wonder if there are jokes being made in Italy about our government?

  • Comment number 14.

    Damn, they got one. In Lancashire of all places, what a surprise. Now I'm scared.

  • Comment number 15.

    The Conservatives really want Brown to stay as this will greatly help them come next election. It has helped them in this one and will have a bigger effect in a General Election.

    As an aside, what makes Labour think that a cange of leader will mean an immediate Geeral Election ? Brown took over without a General Election so does he think the public love him so much he can take over without an election whereas anybody else would have to hold an immediate election. We probably should have one on change of PM but I cannot see how Brown and his supporters think Brown can get away without one but anybody else needs one !!

  • Comment number 16.

    Very high blink rate!

    Also he is clearly hoping for lucrative consultancy/directorship roles and he is not allowed to take them within 6 months of being a minister. Go figure.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have but one thing to say.

    What demonstrates the views of MPs more and shows how in touch with people they are???

    When the majority of people in the country are against Labour and Gordon, the MPs unite behind him saying that he's the man for the job. Is this some form of reverse psychology in the hopes that by not liking Labour then Gordon gets supported by MPs, therefore, trying to convince us that the only way to get rid of Gordon is to gain a new found love for Labour.

    That's not going to happen, I may have issues with most MPs but after the long relationship this country has had with New Labour and Gordon, I think that any sane person would realise that this country doesn't need New Labour, Gordon and most of his fans.

    New Labour is in chaos, everyone can see it but Gordon and his allies. Combine New Labour, Gordon Brown and a party in a state of chaos and disunity and you get what nobody wants from their government.

    Let's remember what happened during the infighting days of the Conservatives, everyone thought to themselves that they didn't want people like them in power, so clearly Gordon has learnt no lessons.

    Gordon, you're a lame duck PM, not a visionary or a great man or the only one who can lead us through the crisis. I rate Gordon as the number 1 man for the mess this country is in, although there is quite a list, but now all Gordon shows us is nothing. At a time when this country needs a government to lead, we have a government that seems uncertain about everything and is crawling behind everyone else.

    If Gordon and this government continue in failing to lead, then the situation will only get worse, not better. I can clearly see this as a good thing for the Conservatives and Lib Dems, so Gordon must want New Labour to lose. What a complete defeatist and in my opinion, the biggest coward of them all.

    The job of the PM and the government is to serve the people. Where's the service? All I see are cowards constantly worried about themselves and their own positions in parliament, constantly fighting for survival with no regard for the voices of the people.

  • Comment number 18.


    I am today announcing the launch of the Sensible Party. Our Cabinet will be as follows [a la the dream teams which soccer supporters are so fond of]

    Tony Blair - PM
    Vince Cable - Chancellor
    Ann Widdecombe - Home Secretary
    Ken Clarke - Foreign Secretary
    Joanna Lumley - Defence
    Michael Portillo - Education & Culture
    Nigella Lawson - Food & Agriculture

    Stephen Fry - Speaker of the House of Commons

    We will appoint Emiritus Cabinet Members in an advisory and continuity role: Dennis Healey & Margaret Thatcher will be early appointments

    Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Country, rather than of their party. Other names will follow. We feel that a Cabinet of this nature will act in the spirit of English national unity. A website for the Sensible Party will be launched shortly.

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't know how many times I have to say it but the public wants Gordon Brown out - a general election.

    This was apparent when they voted Ken out and Boris in in the London Mayoral election last year and the success of the Conservatives in the local council elections.

    It is all there, clear to see, why can't he see it?

  • Comment number 20.

    Ho hum... another Roland Rat on the breakfast show.

    I do hope that Gordon holds on as Leader and leads Labour to absolute oblivion in the next General Election.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ignore the words coming out of his mouth; the only way to judge a politician is by what they do, not what they say (the trouble is they all say a lot but very few of them actually do anything (except fiddle expenses, and that is "doing" the taxpayer, which doesn't really count)).

    No, look at his eyes, how the words are coming out of his mouth, his body language and the action he is taking.

    Doesn't to me look like someone who is supporting his leader!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Oliver Cromwell's Speech on the Dissolution of the Long Parliament, 20th April 1653.

    It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

    Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? s there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

    Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

    Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!

    So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

    So... that didnt work then....

  • Comment number 23.

    Brown giving Sugar a peerage? What next - perhaps he will get Susan Boyle to entertain him and his courtiers.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    The idea that Miliband is backing Brown out of loyalty is naive in the extreme. He has backed him in return for staying on as Foreign Secretary - and is thus nothing more than he's always been, out for no 1. The man is a disaster as Foreign Sec....but the older man Nick should be interviewing is Mandelson - who was expecting the same job. Also Darling stays as Chancellor (because Brown lacks the power to fire him, so Ed Balls also has a broken nose) while Hutton is leaving to spend more time with his budgies. The whole thing is laughable - more soft-shoe shuffle than radical reshuffle. These who were know this already

  • Comment number 26.

    Facing the greatest economic challenges since World War 2, we have a lame duck prime minister, a rag, tag and bobtail cabinet and a rotten parliament.

    The only way to deal with this mess is to hold a general election now. Not to elect a new government to full term, but to run until the end of the current parliament (i.e. around ten months) with a brief to shore up the economoy and bring in reform of both houses of parliament. It should then dissolve itself to allow fresh elections for a government to serve full term.

    In the meantime, the media should examine critically MPs outside interests: present and former memberships of action groups, secret societies and para-political organisations, making such information available to the electorate; exposing where such inmterests may conflict with the interests of their constituents. The BBC should be made more democratic, particularly in terms of its political reporting.

    Following a second general election, we should then examine our level of democratic engagement within the European Parliament. How many of us can name our MEP, identify which grouping they belong to, or even remember all the candidate names for the party we voted for yesterday? We need greater democratic involvement and transparency in the whole process, along with frequent grilling of MEPs on Question Time, Any Questions and Newsnight. Not forgetting the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (and only one - if we vote against, no repeats), if not membership as a whole. Once we have switched the lights on in Europe, then a fresh election (in two years?) when we aren't blinkered by party politics, protests votes and expenses scams wouldn't be amiss.

    Finally, while we respect and admire our Queen and wish her a long reign, we must start to consider that she won't be with us forever and whether we want/need a monarchy to continue.

    Last night on Question Time, Paddy Ashdown suggested that democracy in this country is in a poor state. I disagree - democracy has a chance to reassert itself and take back government from the political machines. We must not allow the politicians to attempt to revert to business as usual - which is why the latest cabinet reshuffle is little more than a sideline, if not an absolute farce.

  • Comment number 27.

    Where, Nick, is the change in this reshuffle? With the exception of some lateral moves, most people are staying put. This doesn't change Brown's chances. It doesn't bind ministers to him. It just reinforces the sense of desperation.

  • Comment number 28.

    the detoxification of greedy mps
    take their supplementary benefits away
    and their true colours come out
    yellow chickens squawk squawk

  • Comment number 29.

    Never mind a secret ballot. how about a public riot?

  • Comment number 30.

    Sorry but I want to elucidate on my feelings about Gordon appointing Alan Sugar as "czar of enterprise" or whatever it is.

    Sugar is a bully. So is Brown.

    God help us all.

  • Comment number 31.

    looking like he might survive (isn't it?) for the very simple reason that he still badly wants the job, whereas no-one else even slightly fancies it - so fair enough really, when you think about it - funnily enough as I was voting yesterday, and casting my 10 Clear Thinking Progressive votes in the usual way (7 to Lab, 2 to LibDem, 1 to a wacky Indepedendent) it felt really IMPORTANT what I was doing, I think because the Labour vote may be sinking to an all time low ... I actually very nearly gave them 8 instead of the standard 7 but ended up not going quite that far

  • Comment number 32.


    Charges 'unlikely' over expenses

    The Metropolitan Police says it is "highly unlikely" any MPs will be successfully prosecuted over expenses.

    The Scotland Yard and Crown Prosecution Service statement said questions did remain in a "small number" of cases.

    It said detectives needed more information on the probity of these expenses claims before further decisions on a full investigation.

    It said many of the MPs who had faced complaints appeared to have provided correct information to the Fees Office.

    The Scotland Yard and Crown Prosecution Service statement said questions did remain in a "small number" of cases.

    It said detectives needed more information on the probity of these expenses claims before further decisions on a full investigation.

    In May, the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service set up a joint panel of detectives and lawyers to look at the reports of how some MPs were using the Parliamentary expenses.

    This panel was charged with looking at whether a criminal investigation should be launched, rather than actually beginning a full probe.

    Scotland Yard had received some formal complaints, including from Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, formerly a high-profile police officer, and a tax campaign group.

  • Comment number 33.

    John Hutton really does have a scary expression/s

  • Comment number 34.

    Great job, re-arranging the deckchairs, Gordon. Although Prescott probably had more experience in that area. By the way, why on earth have you hired Sugar? A nastier, spivier chav would be impossible to find.

    Anyway, keep the cabaret going. It's hilarious, although I don't really want to watch it for a whole year.

  • Comment number 35.

    Does anyone know how to get through to the BBC that their figures for the Council elections are wrong? Several show no councillors e.g Devon/Hampshire elected for any party and the Lab and Tory gains/losses have not changed since it was just 2 Councils that had declared. I don't know how they can put such inaccurate info on the front page.

  • Comment number 36.

    Now that many of those who "got found out" in the recent expenses scandal are jumping ship and heading for cover should I be bothered and should I feel it reflects badly on the leader? I'm not sure - I'd rather wait for more substantive measures of political success.

    In all the expenses scandals, I thought Gordon Brown came out with very little scandal or misappropriation attached and last night,on BBC radio, it was reported that Deutsche Bank were seeing signs of the end of the recession. They were credited with being one of the earliest identifiers of the downturn. They indicated that they believed that the low interest and quantative easing may be partly responsible. I've not been able to see any comment on the report on the web-sites.
    Perhaps we should try to make our measurement of a Member of Parliaments success based on their substantive behaviour in the public interest. I think the Labour, under Gordon Brown, still have the opportunity to make a substantive difference - it may however, for many, be less self-serving than the alternative.
    Thank you to those MP's (of all political persuasions) who are putting their shoulder to the wheel and getting on with governing the country.

  • Comment number 37.

    # 19 flamepatricia

    Pure, unadulterated, blind ambition. See it from his view point;

    I am possessed of a massive intellect.
    Everyone else is inferior to me.
    I am always right.
    I am the only one with the required skills.

    The sad thing is that he is damaged goods.

    He is incredibly selfish.
    He is uncaring.
    He lacks compassion.
    He is has no life skills.

  • Comment number 38.

    It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Lady Sings
    (Even if Britain Has Got No Talent)

    The Present Incumbent Incompetent (Gorden Brown)
    "Golden brown texture like sun
    Lays me down with my mind she runs
    Throughout the night
    No need to fight
    Never a frown with golden brown"

    The Kid Contender (David Cameron)
    "Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit.
    There isn't any other stair quite like it.
    I'm not at the bottom, I'm not at the top.
    So this is the stair where I always stop."

    The Liberal (Nick Clegg)
    "He's a real nowhere man,
    Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
    Making all his nowhere plans
    for nobody."

  • Comment number 39.

    It's not loyalty to Brown that stops Milliband , Johnston etc. from sticking their heads above the parapet,it's the certainty that they will lose the next election anyway, and whoever is leader will see the end of their political career. Loyalty and integrity are rare commodities in Labour politicians anyway, and this present lot are particularly lacking in either. Brown will succeed in hanging on till the bitter end, because no one wants the poison chalice, and he does not have the moral courage required to admit failure and stand down.

  • Comment number 40.

    C'mon Nick, Hutton has shown loyalty to Purnell and the Blairite cause rather than to the PM.

    This is not the reshuffle Team Brown wanted or planned for. But I would suggest Nick you are misreading the signs. The piper is no longer calling the tune. 

    Brown's last throw of the dice was to try to salvage something from his fag-end government but instead of a radical reshuffle for born-again-Brown, it's the last gasp of a dead duck.

    Leadership challenges and election slaughters may be playing second fiddle at the moment as the ex-Supreme Leader rearranges the few deck chairs left on the sinking ship but the stuffing has been knocked out of his waning authority.

    He's left in limbo land with a collapsing cabinet. Something has got to give and the only question is when?

  • Comment number 41.

    I spoilt my ballot paper for the local elections as I was not able to vote for UKIP or any ant-"EU" party or person. I could not have voted BNP. I feel entitled to be destructive until we get the referendum we were promised.

  • Comment number 42.

    there is nothing wrong with gordon brown its just a case of wrong man, wrong party, wrong time.
    sadly looking at the parlimentary members in westminster today there is none there that look capable of running for a bus let alone running this country.
    popularity does not give you the ability to govern but these parties are playing the popularity card and sad to say its all they have, none looking at their rosters have an mp that could lead this country from the disaster we are in to better times.
    can we hope that the next load of interns into parliment have some ability and at least one will be a future leader.
    or is it time for party politics to be ended and something new introduced to replace it.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick, I hope you took note of Sir Alan Sugar's remarks and also those of Lord Mandelson. The words of both these men make the frantic efforts of self-important BBC journalists look like the shouts and squeals of
    angry toddlers in some playground brawl.

  • Comment number 44.

    no 41.
    Aren't you a little too old to be throwing your toys out of the pram? It's not a good idea
    to cut off your nose to spite your face.

  • Comment number 45.

    42. At 2:55pm on 05 Jun 2009, delminister wrote:
    there is nothing wrong with gordon brown its just a case of wrong man, wrong party, wrong time.


    How many wrongs does it take for there to be something wrong with gordon brown?


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