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Well, Charlie Falconer has said it

Nick Robinson | 21:19 UK time, Sunday, 7 June 2009

In an article in tomorrow's Times, Charlie Falconer does make the case that any likely alternative leader would do better at an election at any time than Gordon Brown.

falconer_times226.jpgHe writes that:

"My view is that the painful step of changing our leader, a leader who has given his life to the Labour Party and to public service, would be best for the party and the country. The choice is for the prime minister and the party. I believe that if we change, then we would go into the next election, whenever it was, so much stronger."

And this is why he argues that, to avoid electoral wipe-out, they need a new leader:

"It needs the leader to be the driver and the agent of very big change. This needs highly developed leadership skills. Gordon Brown has not displayed those skills. Whatever the length of time under this new leader, we would be more strongly united around both a new leader and an agreed programme, rather than clinging, disunited and dissatisfied, to the present position."

Update 0814: The piece is online at the Times site: Only a new leader will bring unity to Labour.


  • Comment number 1.

    Does the man think that Blair or someone like Blair would fair better?.

    Utter and total tosh!

  • Comment number 2.

    While all this is going on, who's minding the shop? Now Peter Hain, Glenys Kinnock and Peter Mandelson are back. Is there nobody new out there? Can there be any doubt that this government is intellectually and morally bankrupt? Time for a change, please.

  • Comment number 3.

    It seems obvious to me and many others, Nick.

  • Comment number 4.

    Falconer forgets that Blair ignored collective cabinet and took the country into an illegal war, because one man (Blair) had a religious sense of sharing war with his American counterpart.

    Pray not Falconer.

  • Comment number 5.

    Just remind me, with whom did Charlie Falconer share his chambers, many moons ago? Oh yes, Charlie, you also ripped off the taxpayer to re-decorate your office. From whom or where do you obtain your moral authority to suggest that Brown should be ousted?

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick you reap what you sow. You and your colleagues in the press have been on a mission to destroy the voter's faith in politics. With the likely election of a BNP MEP you may now have achieved this. Years of snearing and derision from the press have contributed to the election of a fascist in the UK. How ironic so soon after the D-Day anniversary. The BBC as a public service is especially culpable. There are descent and honourable people in politics, not that the BBC would admit this. Instead the BBC have stoked the fires of righteous anger and encouraged mob justice. This is a day of shame for Britain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Problem is Dear Lord Charlie, Labour has NOBODY capable and willing to drive through a programme of sweeping change.

    Well I tell a lie, Frank `field is the man, the ONLY man capable, but he has a snowballs chance in hell of being voted leader by the self serving PLP troughers.

  • Comment number 8.

    What a surprise! Another arch Blairite, who was useless in his job, and is still bitter at the way Gordon rightly got rid of him. It is staggering how these venal, vain, and despicable people put personal ambition over the good of the whole country

    Britain is mad to want Gordon to go!! Absolutely Mad!!! He is a class act and the one true towering politician we have in Britain. Have any of you actually watched his performances? He's brilliant and he has the right plans to get us out of this recession and to clear up parliament. Please, let's give him a chance!!! We can all have our say next year in the election but until then let's get behind him. We need to have far more respect for the office of prime minister and stop treating and judging him as if he's a pop star or reality show contestant. I'm afraid in this mad 24 hr-media-frenzied-appearance-driven world political heavyweights like Roosevelt, Churchill, Reagan and Thatcher would have never got in power

  • Comment number 9.

    I wouldn't listen to Charlie Falconer, unelected member of Blair's government anymore than I would listen to Mandelson, unelected member of Brown's government.

    And I'm a Tory.

    And finally, an observation before I turn in; these last load of blogs have all been about Gordon Brown and New Labout self-indulgence whether it be the party activists, Nick, the other New Labour supporters and bloggers.

    There is another better world out there.

    There is no mention about any of the other parties and more importantly, the other 75% of the country who did not vote for New Labour.

    Yet more election results tonight. The New Labour people will say it is about expenses but even the moat MPs and the Duck House MPs are not affecting the Tory vote in the same way.

    Apparently Wales is on target to receive the overall popular vote, something that has not happened since 1931.

    Something is happening and it is not odd.

    New Labour don't want GB.

    The country doesn't want New Labour.

    The country doesn't care whether it's one day, one week or one year; New Labour is on the way out just like the Tories were on the way out in 1997.

    S**t happens; get over it.

    Like the sleepy crocodile lying in the mud on the river bank, the majority have eyes and ears, and although slow to get going, you annoy them at your peril.

  • Comment number 10.

    hi what is clear labour lyed on giving the public a referendum on europe
    and nowing paying the price !!


  • Comment number 11.

    Blair was not in post to handle the full set of consequences of his policies/policies implemented under his period as first minister (actually, some of the consequences will not emerge for as many as 10-15 years, when those affected are mature enough to demonstrate their effects). Brown is bobbing about on the wake of these things plus the consequences of the subset of his own policies, however advisable or inadvisable (selling large amounts of gold? Priceless).
    Tonight I've been talking to people about the crisis in modern public life, and there seems to be a powerful belief that we are not so very far away from a series of civil disobedience actions to rival the community charge/Trafalgar Square incident.
    Further, it seems to me that our European dream is about to be bent by people who will declare that they have a mandate, and the longer term consequences of Labour being resoundlingly ousted from Westminster will including mangling, if not shattering the European dream. It seems that not many people remember the purposes behind the EU, starting with the Coal and Steel Federation in the ruins of postwar Europe, the European customs union, the parallel NATO, and then all that has happened since; an end to European strife and fiscal mismanagement.
    If we band together we can control our fiscal systems more easily, we can have greater international influence, we will have more resistance to the newer sorts of fiscal depression/recession that are going to happen from now on, and we will be able to defend ourselves militarily and in terms of policing/border patrols.
    I fear that we are going to tear this up and throw it away... ...all because of silly gestures about the Pfund, the Pfennig and the Schilling. How immature people like Hague seem when they say that they don't want to lose a currency that was never ours in the first place. How much do we lose in currency exchange fees? It all seems so very risible. We dumped £sd in the early 1970s; we came off the gold standard in 1931; the 'pound' dropped dramatically in relation to the dollar and the mark (and I can recall it was about 11 marks to the pound when I was in NATO, in the 1970s), there is no space for sentimentality here. Quite soon even the American empire will pale by comparison with the emerging Chinese one, evidently sooner than had been forecast only 4 or 5 years ago.
    "Half of you may not be here in 30 or 40 years' time but I will be and I want to be free."
    William Hague (aged 16) at the Conservative Party conference in 1977

  • Comment number 12.

    Has Falconer forgotten the Blair years of broken promises and downright lies already? I don't like Browns record of bungling but at least he is honest and may given time get it right. Blair and his acolytes are little more than self serving egomaniacs with no morality. Brown has made a good start by shedding Blears, Flint, Hoon et al. Personally I believe it's too late for him and nothing can stop the train smash thats coming, but Labour may survive to fight again if he can get them back to their ideals. Another Blair clone in charge would consign Labour to extinction. Already in Scotland the perception is SNP and SSP are the true socialist parties compared to Labour

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't believe these Westminster people! Mind you Charlie has nothing to lose - he won't lose his seat in the Lords at the next election. So he is asking for things that will have no effect on him, unlike the many MPs who will lose their seats due to a divided party!

    Get over it and sort yourselves out.

  • Comment number 14.

    Johncarrelson wrote
    "Britain is mad to want Gordon to go!! Absolutely Mad!!! He is a class act and the one true towering politician we have in Britain. Have any of you actually watched his performances? "

    Watched his "performances"? (As if he was a circus act)...
    No I read his statement that he made on day one of his premiership.
    To clean up politics.

    Well, he failed that spectacularly, and he's failed everything else he's subsequently said he'd do; he's failed to do anything much apart from plug the leaks in his cabinet with his own arch enemies (because all he has left is arch enemies).

    Johncarrelson - your vision of a towering (rather than glowering) politician is one that I find so very hard to believe wasn't a wind-up of the first magnitude...
    Look at him at at the D-Day commemoration. Everyone say bolt-upright and attentive and he chewed his nails and sucked his fingers.

    Aw, Johncarrelson, can you not see?

  • Comment number 15.

    pity some can not back the rebels up they seem spinless

    he needs to go else at the next election its meltdown


  • Comment number 16.

    A new leader would make little difference. None of them had the courage to put up a challenge when Tony Blair vacated his seat. What makes anyone think that they would have the balls to risk their career this time around?

  • Comment number 17.

    A reporter asked Gordon Brown How you know if the public want you to stay in government?
    Brown replied, The people love me they will tell me if they want me to go
    Reporter, Mr. Brown the people are upset over the expense scandal and are asking you to go, will you now resign as Prime Minster?
    Brown, The people love me they will tell me if they want me to go
    Reporter, Mr. Brown you have ministers resigning all around you and MPs asking you to resign, Mr. Brown will you now stand down?
    Brown, The people love me they will tell me if they want me to go
    Reporter, Mr. Brown your party as suffered a major defeat in the local elections and you have been forced into a cabinet reshuffle 3 days early, you still have Labour MPs calling on you to resign, the people are asking you to resign over your government expense scandal, Mr. Brown how else can they tell you they want you to go?
    Brown, The people love me they will tell me if they want me to go
    The People, Now Mr. Brown, go NOW

  • Comment number 18.

    With no seat to lose Charlie Falconer has a freedom of expression that backbench MPs feel they do not have or alternatively are too frightened to exercise.
    So far; tomorrow may be different.
    A previous posting (#8) described GB as a class act; so was W C Fields but I wouldn't have wanted him as PM either. If as claimed he is the only person who can rescue the country pray tell us why he allowed this mess to happen in the first place. Please do not insult our collective intelligence by repeating the suggestion that it was all the USA's fault, because it simply wasn't for the simple reason that it wasn't up to the USA to regulate our financial services industry.
    Also, while personally slightly suspicious of some BBC reporting to suggest that somehow the BBC is to blame for Labour's woes (#6) really does stretch my credulity to near breaking point. So the BBC made the expenses scandal up and somehow persuaded the Telegraph to publish it, did it?
    Clearly posted by a Labour apparatchiks.

  • Comment number 19.

    Derek53, do you dislike the PM because he's Scottish like so many people in England or because you're another one of these pseudo-intellectual upper-middle-class Tory windbags who wants his friends back to make the rich richer and the poor poorer?

    "Well, he failed that spectacularly, and he's failed everything else he's subsequently said he'd do"

    What rubbish!
    * Successful exit strategy from Iraq
    * Suring up the banks and saving millions of people's money. Tories would have let them go bust
    * Going after Iceland when UK savers lost their money, and getting it back
    * The G20 - Bringing together a divided world as one
    * Reaffirming Britain's standing in the world after the debacle of the Blair years when we were a laughing stock

    Also, it's very hard to gauge his achievements as the economy has dominated so much of his time. He needs a second term so we can really see what he's about. He's a decent principled man who, unlike so many in politics especially within the Tories, is in politics to help people and to make Britain a better, fairer and stronger place

  • Comment number 20.

    Radiowonky on the wrong signal! obviously. (wonky calling Austin)

  • Comment number 21.

    In reporting on the incoming EU election results, the BBC's Jonny Dymond says:

    "There are few official results out yet, but exit polls indicate the parties of the centre-right that hold power in most of the biggest continental countries have done very well; and that the left appears in disarray despite the recession"

    May I suggest that the left is in disarray BECAUSE of the recession. Socialism rips wealth from the productive side of the economy and dumps it unconditionally into the unproductive side of the economy. Eventually (and always) this results in economic failure. This is why Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are being edged along the plank into oblivion. Funny, also, how a BBC reporter should think that "the left" could not possibly be the cause of a recession.

  • Comment number 22.

    8. At 10:02pm on 07 Jun 2009, johncarrelson wrote:

    ...Britain is mad to want Gordon to go!! Absolutely Mad!!! He is a class act and the one true towering politician we have in Britain. Have any of you actually watched his performances?


    Yes, I watched his "Obama Beach" performance yesterday, an instant YouTube classic!

  • Comment number 23.


    53! what strange event lays beneath that coronation of a number (53)???

  • Comment number 24.

    12. At 10:16pm on 07 Jun 2009, spartans11 wrote:
    Has Falconer forgotten the Blair years of broken promises and downright lies already? I don't like Browns record of bungling but at least he is honest and may given time get it right. Blair and his acolytes are little more than self serving egomaniacs with no morality. Brown has made a good start by shedding Blears, Flint, Hoon et al.


    Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but all the above resigned. The two people Brown wanted to move, refused to go (Darling & Miliband). He has no authority over his own cabinet, hence the need to bring in unelected sycophants.

  • Comment number 25.

    According to some of the exit polls and various cities results, for example Manchester, the North are keeping Labour in good position, leading by a very good margin versus the Tories. Good to see at least us Northerners don't fall for the false PR man Cameron and his grandees.

  • Comment number 26.


    I bet Charlie Falconer's intervention wiped the smile off Gordon's face!

  • Comment number 27.

    Falconer, if I'm correct was Blair's mentor, and he is now administering a dose of "what goes around comes around" to the man who breathed down Blair's neck. In my humble opinion, this country is in such dire straits that I believe an emergency coalition caretaker government should administer Britain's affairs whilst steps are taken to allow a general election to take place.

  • Comment number 28.

    Eurosceptics wiped out in


    UKIP will be alone!

  • Comment number 29.

    Charlie Falconer the man who spent £5000 on a role of wallpaper,tried to sue Gordon Brown for double pension after Brown had sacked him and oh yes tried to prevent the Freedom Of Information Act from being easily applicable to the Commons..
    Nick do you think Charlie has an axe to grind?

  • Comment number 30.

    i just heard on R4 that labour has come sixth in cornwall even behind the cornish national party.... from these kind of results it is obvious the electorate wants him to stay and get on with the job........!

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick, as Charlie says "I believe that if we change, then we would go into the
    next election, whenever it was, so much stronger"

    The hope of suddenly being "so much stronger" without Brown is the only possible argument for a change at this late stage, so near to the next election. Labour is doing so badly, that a new leader could not do any worse. A new leader might even have a 'bounce' effect, just in time for the election. The bounce would not be enough to win, but might be enough to prevent a total wipeout.

    There is some logic to this position, but it is actually the politics of desperation. This proposal assumes that in the public's eye Labour's woes are all down to Brown. That isn't the whole picture. It is Labour's disastrous policies that have caused this mess, their incompetence and swaggering arrogance, not listening, turning us into a surveillance state, messing up devolution, tax-and-waste, 10p tax, broken promise on the referendum, ID cards, HIPs, Local Government, speed cameras, speed humps, civil enforcement officers, crime, education, health service, threats to doctors' surgeries, post office closures, health and safety, too much rain, not enough rain etc etc.

    Yes, of course Brown is largely to blame (along with Blair) but people are now fed up with the whole lot of them.

    We need a real change, not just window dressing (with or without Ms Flint)

  • Comment number 32.

    Has it not crossed anyones mind that no one wants to challenge Gordon Brown as leader!! Who would want to ? Labour are in dire straits and the new leader would be mad to want to take the country to the polls. Better to let Brown lose the election then come in and pick up the pieces !!! Rather that than lose within a year of taking over the job !!!

  • Comment number 33.

    25 maximusmanc

    Or alternatively the exception that proves the rule ?

    QED Up your way you can fool all of the people all of the time?

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick, why are Jonny Dymond and that woman presenter on £92K per year incredulous that EU voting is swinging to the right in a recession? Do they not understand that the electorate knows socialism when it sees it? Socialism always ends up with, er, socialist governments running out of money, ergo the electorate is voting for right-of-centre, ie economically literate political parties.

  • Comment number 35.


    What happened in Wales then? Labour coming second to the Tories! Explain that one away.

  • Comment number 36.

    I note that Mandy extracted a new title from Gordon as the price for his suppoprt. This apparantly makes him the Deputy Prime Minister. What if, for a moment, Mandy puts in the knife and Gordon resigns then won't Mandy become the Interim Prime Minister, God Help us, the man's devious enough for it

  • Comment number 37.

    #24 yellowbelly59

    Fair enough they did resign, but only because they had to.

    Blears, self serving egomaniac, jumped before she was pushed - expenses

    Flint, Blears best friend forever, threw a strop because Brown considered her insignificant

    Hoon, nonentity who jumped before he was pushed - expenses

    Purnell, see Blears - expenses

    Yes they resigned but so do football managers and we all know what that means

    Don't get me wrong, I will be very glad to see the back of this parody of a government. However, my point is at least Brown is an honest bungler unlike man of a thousand faces Blair and his cronies like Falconer. So I really think it's a bit rich, almost as rich as the food he's no doubt been troughing at our expense, to see that gutless crony who OK'd an illegal war spouting as if he cares about the Labour Party

  • Comment number 38.

    Brown is deeply unpopular but I think it is because he is a Scot trying desperately to be British that is his major problem. It just sounds a bit lame and pathetic.

    In terms of policy he is no worse than Blair (but sadly no better either) he is also possibly less vapid and irritating and might even be more honest (when he's not wittering about imaginary British values) than his predecessor.

    The main problem with Labour will remain whoever is their leader, it is quite simply that they have lost their ethos as a political party. They don't represent working class people any more and they don't even pretend to.

    Labour sold their soul to the centre right before achieving political office, they have wasted their years in charge and soon they will be replaced by the Conservatives, so what was the point of their years in power? I can't see any apart from delivering devolution 20 years after Scots were swindled out of their vote in favour of it.

    Scotland and Wales can hopefully escape soon from the corrupt British state but England has no alternative because Cameron's Tories are just as bad as Labour, if not worse. The other English parties are even worse than them!

    England needs to re-examine its political priorities pronto because when people are resorting to voting for xenophobes in UKIP and the BNP there is something far, far wrong. Also I find it incredible that huge amounts of people can vote for UKIP when the UK is already independent, quite pathetic. Even Wales have elected a loon from UKIP, a sad day for them as well.

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 00:20am on 08 Jun 2009, spartans11

    What the Labour party needs to do is to embrace honest people such as Alan Johnson, Frank Field and Kate Hoey and go back to being the champions of the working class, rather than property speculating, self-serving tory-lites.

    I might be tempted to vote for them myself under those circumstances.

  • Comment number 40.

    The Lord Chancellor (queens conscience)
    he's the one that sent a dog psychologist working for him to pretend to be a cafcass officer to luton county court and deny me access to my children
    (fix up cost me large for barristers lawyers dragged out hearings previous cafcass reports)

    just a bent system to be replaced with another bent system

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't believe that anyone else could do a better job than running the country than Gordon Brown, especially in this economic climate. Everyone is happy to complain and say he should go but who could do better? He is a good man who is working hard for his country. Labour should not be worrying about their position in the next election, they should be working together in order for the country to run smoothly. That is every MP's duty. If they did this then they would not need to worry about the election.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    who cares what charlie falconer says.. didn't he get booted out?

  • Comment number 44.


    Well now the North west result has been declared Labour vote sown by 7% hardly a ringing endosement of Brown eh even in LAbour Heartlands he is losing badly! the electorate have spoken and only 16% nationally want a labour government time for a trip to the Palace primeminister! the country has spoken now do the decent thing and call an election lets be honest you can't get a worse result than today or can you? Maybe Crash Gordon will lead Labour to a bigger defeat than the infamous Michael Foot. And for anyone blaming the expenses row get a grip The Tory vote held firm and the Lib Dem vote droped by 1% both had Mp's outed in the expenses furore it's not the expenses sily it's a Lame duck PM and a Lame Duck Government! Time for Change and let the electorate decide who they want to get us out of this mess! May the best person win!

  • Comment number 45.

    I think it makes no difference who leads Labour now. Their policies are not working and a party that came into power through spin has been found out by a public who deserve better

  • Comment number 46.

    Personally, I think Falconer is right, a new leader would provide Labour with a better chance, even marginally so. I believe this, not because of Falconer himself, who I despise along with other Blairites, but because the swing voting public appears to have reacted adversely to GB. The reasons for this have been rehearsed many times in this and other blogs. I think SOME action by the PLP, no matter who the new leader, would be seen as positive by those swing voters. They have had the opportunity - and taken it - to submit their protest votes in the European elections, but many will revert to type at a general election. How many, though, remains the unknown question.

    However, some bloggers have dismissed this possibility because no one would wish to lead the party at the present time. Whilst that might be true (although a similar situation did not stop William Hague from leading the Tories), if Brown actually resigns the leadership then the PLP will HAVE to have a leadership contest to select from within.

    Unless, of course, they wish to maintain the status quo - a set of headless chickens.

  • Comment number 47.

    Nick, would you please comment on Peter Mandelson's remarks on Sunday about the reform of public services. He made a real play of it and to me it sounded as though he had extracted some concession from Brown as the price of his support and new titles. So please probe what it amounts to.

  • Comment number 48.


    The very last thing we need is a second term of Gordon Brown. Can you not see what a terrible mess he has made of virtually everything he has touched? The majority of voters can see it.

  • Comment number 49.

    The fact that Charlie Falconer may be tainted does not mean that he is wrong about this. I am sure he feels genuinely that what he is suggesting is in best interests of the Labour Party.

    The question is - is he right? I think so but I can see that many Labour MP's may be afraid to go into battle because every battle has casualties!!

  • Comment number 50.

    8. At 07:13am on 08 Jun 2009, sicilian29 wrote:

    "The very last thing we need is a second term of Gordon Brown. Can you not see what a terrible mess he has made of virtually everything he has touched? The majority of voters can see it."

    That is not so much of an issue because he is unlikely to get that second term. The danger is that he might destroy the Labour party in trying.

  • Comment number 51.

    39. At 01:02am on 08 Jun 2009, yellowbelly1959

    I agree, Frank Field is a politician I admire greatly. He is honest and principled and actually means what he says. So there is no chance he can become leader of the current bunch of spivs, indeed neither will Johnson.

    I think a bigger danger to real Labour would be a bout of infighting, followed by a new leader who must effectively call an election. He must then try to lead a splintered party tainted by past failures with no time to make any effective changes.

    As I've said earlier, Labour has lost a lot of ground in Scotland, mostly to the SNP. That really has nothing to do with Brown, it has more to do with NuLabour being viewed as self serving and the do as I say not as I do attitude. Would removing Brown solve that problem? To an extent, it would because he's tainted with Blair, but the Labour Movement has been flooded by Blairites(Torylites) from the NEC upwards and people are seeing Blears, Flint, Purnell and the rest for the spivs they are.

    There will be no second term for Brown, but the Labour Party needs to emerge as a viable Opposition. We've just seen what happens over the last 20 years what happens when there is no challenge to powerful govts. That may not be of concern to me after next year, if Labour implode Scotland will become independent and a whole new ball game starts.

  • Comment number 52.

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


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