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Why attempt to topple Brown failed

Nick Robinson | 00:41 UK time, Thursday, 7 January 2010

The attempt to unseat Gordon Brown has clearly failed. The reason is increasingly clear. Those involved in organising the attempt to unseat the PM believed that up to half a dozen Cabinet ministers would follow their lead.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt insist that they had no direct contact with any member of the Cabinet but one rebel who was involved in planning their revolt told me: "We wanted to create a storm. Our purpose was to create the space for the Cabinet to act. They bottled it."

Sources named the potential Cabinet rebels as Harriet Harman, David Miliband, Bob Ainsworth, Jack Straw, Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander. There is no suggestion or evidence that any of those named was involved in planning today's coup attempt. Indeed they all issued statements criticising it. The rebels believed, however, that each of the six named ministers agreed with their view that a change of party leader was necessary and would act accordingly.

One of those named criticised the way today's plot was organised telling me: "It was amateurish. It could never have succeeded."

The minister pointed out that many in the Cabinet had waited many hours before issuing statements saying that they did not support the rebel moves and that the wording of their statements did not always give backing to Gordon Brown personally. For example, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband did not issue a statement until just before seven o'clock declaring that "I am working closely with the prime minister on foreign policy issues and support the re-election campaign for a Labour government that he is leading,"

The letter calling for a secret ballot on the Labour leadership was issued at around 1230. It was many hours later that senior Cabinet ministers issued statements or gave interviews

At 1720 the Justice Secretary Jack Straw said to the BBC that he did not support the ballot:

"The polls are better now than they were immediately before Gordon Brown took over. Our fortunes are linked to the fortunes of the country and indeed the economy... I do not think there is an issue about the direction that Gordon Brown and the Cabinet and the government as a whole are trying to lead this country."

At 1802 Harriet Harman said:

"We are all getting on with our jobs as ministers in a government that Gordon leads. We are united in our determination to do what is best for the country and win the general election."

At 1830, Douglas Alexander, International Development Secretary said:

"Gordon Brown has shown he can deliver for the British people. As general election co-ordinator, my focus is, and will remain, on securing Labour's re-election: that is what I believe our party wants and our country needs."

At 1848 Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said:

"The PM has the support of his colleagues. My focus is, and has to be, on our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere."

At 1853 David Miliband, Foreign Secretary issued a statement:

"I am working closely with the prime minister on foreign policy issues and support the re-election campaign for a Labour government that he is leading."

Unlike the others, the Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy responded quickly giving an interview at around 1400:

"This is a distraction from the important work of protecting jobs and working towards the economic recovery. This is particularly important in Scotland where the SNP government are just not doing enough."

Update: An earlier version of this post timed Douglas Alexander's statement at 1930 rather than 1830; apologies.


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  • Comment number 1.


    How much more of this do we have to take?

    There is now only one guiding motive in the Labour Party.

    The rules of the sinking ship.


    They are all just looking post Brown to what they can grab for themselves. There is no one in this sniveling cabinet with the equipment to do whats best for the Labour Party, forget about Britain. (because they have)

    They were getting better press at the beginning of the week when they threw a Lie Stick into the long grass and the press poodles ran to fetch.

    You caught Cameron out and they had a revival on their hands.

    These people of the Labour party are completely unfit to govern. We now have the leader of the UK surrounded by daggers but no one will strike.

    Loot warm endorsements where only given as long as Balls was muzzled.

    How can this man cling to power with such greed when he continually has to humiliate himself to do so.

    Anyone who needs power that much is clearly unfit to retain it.

    As someone said before.

    You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown being subjected to a successful putsch was always most likely a fantasy, despite the wishful thinking of the former Blair-loyalists now marooned on the back-benches.

    Ultimately the PLP doesn't have the structures or the spine to efficiently decapitate itself, especially when it has no apparent idea from whence it is to grow a new head...

    It now seems like a racing certainty that we'll be stuck with Brown until a General Election in May. The only thing left to wonder about is whether or not Brown will risk a By-Election to replace David Taylor or leave that constituency lacking a representative for 5 months... The latter would certainly be an act of cowardice from a PM afraid to risk the public's judgement very close to a General Election...

    Meanwhile we have to wait for the calendar to run out on this disaster of a government, because, lets face it, they're clearly incapable of honourably going to the people of their own accord.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sorry, the name of the guy was Andrew Neather, NOT Stephen Neather

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick Robinson appears to have been reduced to writing diary notes as an excuse for journalism, are we really bothered about a timeline of who said what? Surely the issue is that Brown is despised both in and out of the labour party, but the pretenders to inherit his crown are terrified of the damage to their careers if they lead labour into the general election and are subsequently annihilated at the polls? Better to let Brown take that fall! I think that had this been the Tories Mr Robinson would have been far more critical in his anaysis?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hoon and Hewitt are a disgrace to the Labour Party. If they have issues about the leadership they should raise any potential leadership ballot issue within the party - not in front of the electorate just before a General Election. Being in a party is about trying to maintain a united front to the outside world. Even when challenging Thatcher the Tories managed to avoid the divisive sabotage tactics being adopted by Hewitt and Hoon,

  • Comment number 8.

    More mutterings from Murphy, even whilst giving an interview regarding the attempted leadership coup he still manages to slip in an attack on the Scottish government. Thats the current SoS for you, a position that is surely now redundant.

    Brown is here to stay until the election, what a surprise!

    #2 weewilliewinkie

    You think the current Labour party are marxist? You couldn't even classify them as even remotely socialist anymore. UK politics has descended into the USA pattern of Tories and Ultra Tories, but you'd be hard pressed to say which is which at present.

  • Comment number 9.

    Im shocked at Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy being named as people who think Brown should step down.

    I 100% believe its true but its very telling of Labours dire situation if these loyalists are disillusioned.Particularly Douglas as they were previously close.He must be one of the ones journalists are refering to when they say cabinet ministers who were previously very close to the prime minister.Hes obviously seen up close behind the scenes that Gordon isnt right for the job.
    I suspect also the way Gordon treated his sister Wendy Alexander, former leader of scottish Labour , really helped him to see Gordon in his true colours.In many ways he hung her out to dry by pressurising her to stay in position in order to protect Westminster ministers caught up in the 2007 party donation police investigation.Brown always knew Wendy would have to go but hung her out to dry painfully slowly in order to protect others.He played on her personal loyalty.Hes shameful.

  • Comment number 10.

    I feel Ed Balls sees himself as a mini Gordon ideologically.Hes a bully like Brown and must never lead Labour for that reason.As well as the fact he was a chief player behind Browns deregulate the city policy that caused so much mayhem.He knows Labour will lose but keeps his powder dry so that he can make a leadership bid.
    Harriet Harman is great -but I wish I really wish shed break free from her misguided loyalty and nervousness to finish Brown off.
    I think Alastair Darling was letting Gordon feel the heat the same as Gordon did to him last year.
    The reason I find most credible for Mandelsons continuing support of Brown is that he is trying to preserve New Labour ideals and knows that can only be done if Browns Labour is beaten and seen to be rejected by the voters.Otherwise they will eternally complain "we was robbed" rather than accepting the rejection.
    Mandelson, very clever and shrewd is playing a long game that isnt based on affection for Brown.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's all about personal self-preservation at the end of the day.

    Any labour MP who puts themselves forward as labour leader, or who directly criticises Brown, would basically be implying this to their constituents and to the wider electorate:

    Brown's performed a scorched-earth policy on the economy during the last 13 years, he's never had any idea what he was doing, he lacks the most basic talents that any leader should have, has destroyed our international diplomatic and economic credibility, and is basically just a lying negligent bullying idiot.
    However, for reasons related to my own troughing, I decided throughout those 13 years to keep quiet and just keep claiming as many expenses as possible.
    So, vote for me. I stood by and just watched for 13 years while our leader destroyed the country and I did nothing because it wasn't in the interest of my bank balance to upset the apple cart at the time.

    Who in their right mind would imply that and put themselves forward as leader ?

    They won't get a new leader until after the election (ie after the candidates have confirmed/secured their seat for another 4/5 years of troughing, and it gives them 4/5 years of trying to lie to the electorate about why it was that they stood by and did nothing for 13 years despite knowing/seeing the country was being destroyed).

    Also, the main left-wing/labour mentality is to never ever admit that you can ever make mistakes, and to believe that your underlying ideology can not be questioned. After following their ideology for 13 years and bankrupting the country because of it, they're a bit stuck. A bit like 1979; they won't admit their ideology broke the country.

    If they admit they deliberately broke the country through sheer arrogance and stupidity then the electorate will say "why did you do that?" and not vote for them.

    If they don't admit they deliberately broke the country then the electorate will say "you've been in power for 13 years, if you didn't do it then who on earth did?" and not vote for them.

    Either way they lose the vote (and rightly so).

    Maybe after the election they'll get someone else like Blair back in 1997, a new face who can basically say "left-wing ideology won't/can't ever work. It just doesn't make logical sense. We need a centre-ground ideology instead. I'm sorry to the electorate that this party was so negligent for so long, but I wasn't in Parliament then so it wasn't my fault. I'm in Parliament now though, so let's start doing things that actually make some kind of sense." - That, I think, is the only hope that labour have of ever getting anywhere near power ever again. Blair knew it back in 1997, Mandy knows it know, but labour won't do anything about it until after the election.

  • Comment number 12.

    Record tax revenues, record new taxes generated. WASTED.
    The end of boom and bust. BUSTED.
    To do the honourable thing, A DISHONOURABLE NO CHANCE!

    But did you expect anything else?

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm no Labour voter but I am pleased that the pair have been left with egg on their faces. They were useless Cabinet Ministers and have acted like school sneaks.


    1. The creation of racism offences - Good
    2. Continual change to create confusion - Its called the game of politics
    3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children - Good
    4. The undermining of schools and teachers' authority - I doubt that
    5. Huge immigration to destroy identity - What identity?
    6. The promotion of excessive drinking - It's always gone on.
    7. Emptying of churches - Who cares?
    8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime - I disagree
    9. Dependency on the state or state benefits - Good
    10. Control and dumbing down of media - Rupert Murdoch the famous socialist?
    11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family. - I disagree

    'I don't think he understands that most of the native British people who are aware of what has been done to us are not at all amused.'

    How do you define the 'native British people'? We are a mixed bag and have been for thousands of years. Also to infer this government has Marxist tendencies would have a certain gentleman in Highgate Cemetery, spinning in his grave.

  • Comment number 15.

    To late now to remove Gordon Brown so lets remove this appalling labour government at this years election. labour still thinks they will win! Talk about out of touch with the electorate more like out of touch with reality.

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    Don't you guys think that it'd be better to go to the electorate more often, at least for very important decisions? As it stands the electorate only gets to have a say once every 4/5 years and with no clear contract on what they are voting for, basically a card blanche for whichever poarty is in power to do what they like, regardless what they said in their manifesto.

    We probably all do our secure banking over the internet, why not also be asked to vote on important matters as and when they arise ? eg "shall we invade Iraq" "shall we bail out failed banks" and so on.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am glad #8 has clarified the strangely misguided comments about Marxism in the UK; I sometimes wonder about the "ultra" and "not so ultra" right wing supporters! Perhaps the sadly disenfranchised majority of the UK, who would like a more UK style political system rather than the present farce, are waiting for someone, somewhere to realise there has been a huge gap in the political map ever since a certain Mr Blair "out-Toried" the Tories.

    After decades of unmitigated and relentless capitalism and a Thatcheresque meltdown (she was not very good at seeing things going pear shaped in the long term either) it would be nice to have just a thin slice of socialist compassion and equality for the ordinary person, especially the ones on low and fixed incomes. Despite the rampant privatisations the trains do not run on time, energy, fuel and utilities cost an arm and a leg, we do not have enough affordable housing, and our infrastructure resembles an unfinished matchstick model. We are being screwed by taxes, largely to pay for a massive failure in the private sector.

    I am sure that Geoffrey and Patricia do have some grey matter between them, and, in time, will learn how to use it better. As for Mr Brown, well he remains the best of a pretty poor bunch, and I am including Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. British politics has seldom been so bereft of leadership talent and for that I blame thirty years of Thatcherism.

    If there is to be a real "coup" then can it be of people in white coats at the doors of Conservative Central Office and Lib Dem HQ? There is enough material there to keep brain surgeons busy forever. As for the "Ultra Right" New Labour I am afraid they are a hopeless case.

  • Comment number 19.

    Who else is able to borrow 3.5 billion pounds per week for at least 104 weeks in a row? It's good for the country that Brown has seen this putsch off.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick says: "One of those named criticised the way today's plot was organised telling me "It was amateurish. It could never have succeeded". "

    Which explains the whole of this pitiful excuse of a government. No wonder the country is in such a mess - it has been run by amateurs for the last 13 years.

  • Comment number 21.

    Brown hasn't even served a full term yet this must be the fourth attempt to get rid of him. Anyone else would have got the message by now but he continues to cling on by his fingertips. If only the Blairite plotters were as good as the Brownite plotters.

    Fantastic news for the conservative party.

  • Comment number 22.

    The attempt to unseat Gordon Brown by Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt was doomed to failure because MPs recognise there is no credible candidate to replace him particularly with an election on the horizon.

    It was in essence an ill conceived and largely unsupported token gesture.It was done outside the party in the public arena to show the public that there were MPs who wanted change and calling for the leadership challenge was really just a photo opportunity for them to be seen calling for that change.

    Labour MPs see their party on its way out of power and are repositioning themselves.Typically it's an every person for themselves scenario.

    Ministers will line up behind Gordon in the full knowledge that when the ship goes down the party will elect one of them as the new leader.They are also covering their bets by showing loyalty to Gordon on the miraculous offchance that if he does get re-elected they will probably all keep their cabinet posts.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why is anyone surprised by the failure of this "coup"? It was organised by Geoff Hoon - a man promoted to his level of incompetence when asked to arrange tea and biscuits for Cabinet meetings. And Patricia Hewitt? Gordon Brown must have been shaking in his boots.
    These are yesterday's people - Tony Blair's puppies. That they imagined they still had enough clout to unseat the Prime Minister is a measure of their self-delusion

  • Comment number 24.

    Burning the midnight eh Nick. I wonder if this has anything to do with your over excitability at Labours masochism ?

    I do worry about the BBCs treasured 'claims' of impartiality. With every prospect of a close election result and a bitter campaign it is a bit much for the BBCs editor to claim that ''one rebel (sic) who was involved in planning their revolt told me - We wanted to create a storm.'' and ''Sources (sic)named the potential Cabinet rebels....'' Nothing like making a second strike !

    Even Daniel Finkeltien, Tory ex spinmeister, writing in the Times yesterday noted pointedly that between his amended statements on Tory marriage tax plans - ''Much of the intervening period Mr. Cameron had spent on the train huddled with Robinson, just the two of them. One might imagine that the topic had come up. Four Hours. ''

    Then look above how the Tory bloggers, also working in the early hours, came on board almost in formation order. Come on lads you have to do better than this - you are worrying ole Daniel. He too may join the 'ankle-biters.'

    Nick hit the Today programme running, at the crack of dawn, and of course all BBC News (et al) is headling his 6 Cabinet rebels item.
    This may be no more than speculation.

    Is the BBC prepared to continue allowing the promulgation of mischief making spin ?

  • Comment number 25.

    1. The creation of racism offences - Good
    not when you can play the racist card and walk out of jail free and laugh all the way to the bank
    Of course this is good. Racism is not something that should be tolerated by anyone in society. I don't quite understand where jails and banks come in; maybe there are more black people work in banks? Would the Tories behave differently? Even the Tory party isn't a whites-only party.

    2. Continual change to create confusion - Its called the game of politics
    I wonder if the Tories are better, but there cannot be a sane person that has seen politicians talking absolute rubbish time and time again and not thinking that it is all just a game. Eg "we are best placed to deal with the recession" "we will not raise taxes" "we will shut down all nuclear power stations" and so on.
    The world is continually changing, and politics is about reacting to changes around us. So this is normal behaviour, for all politicians of all hues. Indeed given our adversarial form of politics it is the only way points can be got across.

    3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children - Good
    Not at all. If "children" means 13+ then, reluctantly, maybe OK. If "children" means 7, then it is sheer madness. Just because you have some kids that get pregnant at 7 does not mean that you have to brainwash all 7 year olds in the country.
    I disagree; yes this is good. Who is talking about brainwashing? And what would you do? Or do you think that child pregnacy is a good thing? Something needs to be done, and it needs to be appropriate for the children's age. And who should do it? Well teachers of course. After all, aren't they trained to work with children?

    4. The undermining of schools and teachers' authority - I doubt that
    Oh yes, do not doubt at all. Try to teach in a state school (my wife does), see kids as young as 8 being 100% disruptive and rude (to put it politely), completely spoiling the lesson for the other kids in the classroom, and as a teacher being completely unable to remove the offenders. So ALL other kids, and the school, has to suffer.
    We have social issues, many of which date back to the 80s when people were left on the scrap heap, and so did the best for themselves, which often wasn't very good. Those children are now adults and are perpetrating the problems, precisely because we are not addressing them. The answer is not to moan about anti social behaviour, but to do something about it. And that thing is to have a fairer society that brings these people back in. Unfortunately 30 years of ignoring the problem is not easy to solve, and it certainly will not be solved within a single parliament. It also will cost a lot of money, and will demand that society changes its views in moving from a 'stuff you' attitude to a more inclusive one, where inequalities are ironed out. Not prepared to commit to those? Well then, you have exactly the society you've got. So stop whinging.

    5. Huge immigration to destroy identity - What identity?
    DNA-wise the "British" are well messed up now. Obviously you may think that fair skin and blue eyes grows on trees, but at this rate it will become exinct. God (or whatever you believe in) has given you a gift and you are throwing it away.
    Culture-wise the already weak culture and way of life stands no chance against the stronger cultures coming from abroad. We will become no better than a 3rd world country because the newcomers are disrespectful and we always have let them get away with it, to the point of changing our law to accomodate them.
    Ah, immigration. Why is it that people in Britain think that the entire world is making a bee-line to the UK? We are such a narrow minded country. You only have to look around Europe, especially southern Europe, to see that immigration is a severe pressure right across the region. Many from North Africa, for example, want to get into France. And Greece and Italy are also suffering badly. As to a 'weak culture' what nonsense. What we are is a European culture, with unfortunate strong tinges of Americanism thrown in. The 'dumbing down' culture is even moving the American way, with many things now categorised as 'good' or 'bad.' Immigration for example -- now which catetory would you put that in?

    6. The promotion of excessive drinking - It's always gone on.
    Yes I'd agree with that.
    Hmm, alcopops. Need I say more?

    7. Emptying of churches - Who cares?
    The Christians and on the other side those who wish to see any kind of cultural cohesion destroyed. It is not so much about the belief but rather the integration it creates when it is shared amongst the community.
    Who cares? My view entirely. One of the most noticable changes in western European culture over the last 50 years is the decline of the church. Now what does that tell you? That god is finally dead? Let's hope so.

    8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime - I disagree
    Then you are not reading the newspapers.
    You read the newspapers? And expect a balanced view? If you are thinking about anti social behaviour then my comments above stand. What's that you say? You don't want to pay more in taxes, you don't want to equal out the wealth, you don't want to help those less fortunate than yourself get back fully into our society. Well shame on you.

    9. Dependency on the state or state benefits - Good
    For your information the governemnt (department of work and pensions) are now trying "hard" to coax lazy people into work, but of course, do not hold your breath, it is not going to be enforced any time soon and not practically make any difference whatsoever. However if you believe that squandering our taxes on undeserved benefits is good, would you please pay my taxes from now on?
    'Lazy people?' This is just the sort of ignorance that in my view invalidates your arguments. Have you ever been unemployed? I was unemployed for two years, and I can tell you it is one of the most dispiriting things that can happen to someone. You lose all drive, all desire to do anything. That is not laziness -- that is a fault with society. Do not be so quick to judge, otherwise I would wish long term unemployment on you. When you are on the dole life is crap; and don't believe the drivel in the disgusing Mail and evil Express that everyone who is on the dole is earning £50k. That is nonsense; and if you do believe that then I can only say you really do need to read more widely.

  • Comment number 26.

    18. At 07:04am on 07 Jan 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    After decades of unmitigated and relentless capitalism and a Thatcheresque meltdown (she was not very good at seeing things going pear shaped in the long term either) it would be nice to have just a thin slice of socialist compassion and equality for the ordinary person, especially the ones on low and fixed incomes. Despite the rampant privatisations the trains do not run on time, energy, fuel and utilities cost an arm and a leg, we do not have enough affordable housing, and our infrastructure resembles an unfinished matchstick model. We are being screwed by taxes, largely to pay for a massive failure in the private sector.

    As for Mr Brown, well he remains the best of a pretty poor bunch, and I am including Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. British politics has seldom been so bereft of leadership talent and for that I blame thirty years of Thatcherism."

    Ah, the misguided socialist Thatcher bashers are out again! I expect you are blaming the current weather on her as well! No doubt if the planet gets hit by a stray asteroid it will be her fault! Leave it alone - you make yourself look stupid.

    As regards your nonsense comments:

    1. The only economic meltdown during Thatcher's years was perhaps the ERM debacle, but what do you expect when you have to deal with the (usual) economic mess left by the previous Labour government? You may not like capitalism, and it does need its excesses curbed, but overall it beats socialism hands down. Socialsm has NEVER worked, and never will.

    2. Actually, the trains are not overall too bad, and sure beat what British Rail were offering 30 years ago. And energy costs, as a proportion on income, have never been cheaper. They will rise now, when the pound collapses thanks to Brown.

    3. I agree that we are being screwed by taxes. But nothing to do with the private sector. It is ALL to do with Brown's obsession with spending OUR money on his own controlling state - the ID cards, the useless legislation, etc, etc.

    4. The current bunch of politicians may be poor, but Brown is BY FAR the WORST. Cameron may not excite us, but at least he is educated, which is more than you can say about the current dimwit in No 10, and his hopeless hangers-on.

    It never fails to amaze me how ANYBODY cannot see the utter mess this country has become under the Blair/Brown stewardship over the last 13 years - not just economically, but socially, culturally, legally and so on. Still, as they say, none so blind as those who refuse to see....

  • Comment number 27.

    Most of the Cabinet Ministers claimed to have delayed their responses because they were "getting on with the business of Government".

    In such circumstances, I wouldn't read too much into the fact that Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy was quick off the mark - post-devolution, he doesn't have much of a job to do, and was probably glad of a chance to get airtime in the runup to a General Election...

  • Comment number 28.

    Nice of you to print the Secretary of States comments on the SNP.
    It has what, exactly ,to do with a failed attempt to get rid of Mr Brown??

    I do love that ol' spin machine the BBBC in action against all but the labour party!

    Does A Campbell work there ??
    Is P Mandelson jerking your chain??

  • Comment number 29.

    Yet again the BBC misunderstand the labour party. What matters to your average activist and hence to MPs is not the cult of personality and who said what and when to whom.Such rune Reading
    ight amuse our opponents and nick robinson but is best left dead and buried along with the cold war and the soviet polio bureau watching that spawned it.

    Britain faces a choice right now, and for once which party elected will make a difference. That choice is illustrated on this blog. Do we want a society in which a "god given, fair skinned, blue eyed, hetrosexual
    ajority" are positively championed. My grandfather fought the battle once before on that front and gave his life to defeat it. Was he some kind of british traitor ? No he was a bonefide hero, as the advocator of that nonsense was one adopt hitler and his policies of eugenics.

    What matters to labour activists is what gives us the best chance of seeing off these racist views. Does being behind in the polls with a Tory party lurching to the facist right allied with neo-Nazis in Poland and northern Ireland give us pause for thought ? You bet it does, is on mature reflection the best man to lead us into what will be a hard fought dirty street fight of an election, absoluty.

  • Comment number 30.

    Was this a real plot to unseat Brown or something much more interesting. Hoon and Hewitt must surely have known Labour rules that the whole of the Labour party, including the Trade Unions must have a vote when the party wants to rid itself of a leader. Therefore what were Hoon and Hewitt thinking of. My hope is that it was their genuine dislike of Brown and all he stands for. Most of all I hope they have taken a look at our economy and fear for what is to come. I would like to believe there is still some integrity left in the Labour Party.

    What should concentrate minds on here is the cost of servicing our debt has got a lot more expensive recently as the markets lose confidence. This means that there is no belief that Britain has a Government that has a plan to bring the Governments borrowing and finances back into order by cuts. That this debt is now subject to more interest means higher taxes and more serious cuts in the future as the interest rises. If we did not have an opposition (who the markets believe will come to power next) which will set about cutting the deficit this situation would be worse. The only person in the Labour Party who seems to recognise the dire state of the Government finances is Mandelson.

    When I read some comments that believe Brown is doing a good job I wonder just what they are thinking. We have a PM hanging onto power for his own self interest not taking the right decisions for fear of losing votes and bringing Britain down. Brown caused this mess in our economy and yet there still seems to be people who believe, despite the evidence, he is the solution. In the meantime our economy continues to slide and we have more months of this, as this dreadful man clings to power.

    The failure of this plot to unseat Brown may have been the best outcome for the opposition parties, but it certainly was not for Britain.

  • Comment number 31.

    New Labour is the most corrupt, ignorant government we've ever had. It has done more damage to our country than any administration in our history. Watch OLIVER TEMPLE SMITH on You Tube – he’s the only commentator being honest about what’s really going on and he's funny.

  • Comment number 32.

    The cracks in the Ice Shelf are miniscule compared to those in Labour.
    If labour ministers and backbenchers are so spineless what does it say about their ability to govern.
    Brown is a complete laughing stock.
    There is only one answer and that is to call an election now, there is no point at all in any delay.

  • Comment number 33.

    look at it this way..if you were a potential labour leader would you throw your hat into the ring now or wait for the bloodletting after the election defeat...?

  • Comment number 34.

    It is inconceivable that Hoon and Hewitt would have put themselves out there without being pretty sure in the belief that others, more senior in the party would follow. Some may disagree with both of their politics but I don't reckon them to be nutters in any other sense.

    If some reports are to be believed, Miliband has bottled it, yet again. He's becoming a pretty boring fellow. It's extremely difficult to see how such a person could ever be the leader of the Labour Party - worse, of the country.

    Does anyone seriously believe that Miliband can match the presence of Gordon Brown, whose own presence is probably enhanced by an authoritarian streak?

  • Comment number 35.

    The future's uncertain for the Labour Party. Mandelson, Miliband (x2), Ainsworth: they'll all be moving seats (by about 12 foot) and not have a great deal to do in a few months, which will last for approximately three years, get busy again (for about 6 months) and then quieten down for another three. And that's assuming they survive James Purnell's cabinet reshuffle...

    So I can understand why they are all hanging on to what appears to be a united PLP; although underneath, they know that we know that they know they would love to get rid of Brown but the risk of losing their job and keeping Brown is not weighted in their favour. All they have now is hope that Brown will not mess it up and continue to attract criticism, muck and negative ratings.

    And, who could truly give Labour a fighting chance (not that GB can) in such a short space of time, considering that the majority of this country are more interested in ASOS, Eastenders or what they are wearing this Friday night than having to get to know a new Labour personality. Anyone who could, has just proved yesterday they do not have what it takes.

    Like most citizens of this country have done at some point over the last 18 months, the Labour MPs should dig out their CVs and start thinking about their next steps (and what they'll be wearing for the job interview –four months on Friday - lovely blouses half price on ASOS at the moment).

  • Comment number 36.

    I think that this secret ballot SHOULD have been held, and then everyone would have known exactly how much support Gordon Brown has.

    This would have also shown those for as well as against him!

    This would have prevented all those jumping on the band wagon to ensure thier future prospects.

    I think that Geoff and Pat were very brave to suggest this action and should be appluaded for bringing this matter to the front.

    PS I am not a Labour supporter!

  • Comment number 37.

    "Still, as they say, none so blind as those who refuse to see...."

    Surely a more fitting saying would be 'In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king'?

  • Comment number 38.


    "The answer is not to moan about anti social behaviour, but to do something about it. And that thing is to have a fairer society that brings these people back in."

    Yeah... so rat boy, safari boy, et al, who were in reciept of the benevolence of the bleeding heart do-gooders 25 years ago and have since turned out to be career crims... yeah, make things more inclusive. GUFF. Scum are scum and thats that. Do something about it? Bring back transportation to Australia for these wretches for a start.

    "Unfortunately 30 years of ignoring the problem is not easy to solve, and it certainly will not be solved within a single parliament. It also will cost a lot of money, and will demand that society changes its views in moving from a 'stuff you' attitude to a more inclusive one, where inequalities are ironed out."

    And the billions spent on the social engineering of the last 12 years has got us precisely where? Where the stats give indication that society is every bit as "unequal" as it was 12 years ago or more and that the party that is meant to be about social justice has delivered absolutely nothing of the kind and meanwhile were in a 2 trillion-pound hole with nothing to show for it?

    "Not prepared to commit to those? Well then, you have exactly the society you've got. So stop whinging."

    Its not a case of the electorate not being prepared to commit to it, you pompous oaf, if they werent prepared to do that, why do you think Blair got three election victories on the bounce? Its not the supine, pliable British public who wont commit to it, its this bunch of Labour robbers, liars and egomaniacs who are completely incapable of DELIVERING it!

    What we've ended up with is their vision of the society that they think we should have. Not what is necessarily best for the country.

  • Comment number 39.

    The 'plot' failed because the Cabinet and Labour back bench MP's bottled it - simple as that
    I can only assume that they really do believe Brown is the leader to take them into the next election - I somehow doubt that the electorate think that
    They may not love Cameron but so many people loath Brown and while we may vote for a party we always have one eye on who will be PM - and I sure as hell don't want Brown

  • Comment number 40.

    #2 weewilliewinkie

    Couldn't agree more; it has long been obvious to anyone whose head was not firmly buried in the sand that the whole purpose of many in the 'newlabour' movement was subversive.

    Attend any university in this country and the marxist rumblings are never very far away from the surface albeit wrapped up in some utopian, egalitarian agenda. Balls and Brown and their spouses have completely fallen for this but clearly believed their greatest chance to fulfill their dream was getting in through the back door.

    So now we have the prospect of a prime minister who is being given a lifeline by Lord Mandleson whose sole iutention is destroying him after his inevitable election defeat. And we can thank Lord Mandleson for this in advance; as the forces of Marxism will be seen to have come very close to grasping the crown when the history books come to write up this most ignominious of periods in English history.

    The whole episode is both a disgrace and extremely worrying but we should all be grateful for the fact that it has only served to weaken Gordon Brown and his merry band of delusional marxist supporters yet further.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 41.

    Quite frankly I am not certain why anyone would want the job of sorting out the current mess the UK is in. Certainly no one with one jot of sense is going to want the Labour party leadership 3 months or so ahead of a general election. To be seen as the man/women leading your party to possible oblivion in the polls is guaranteed to finish your career. Far better to wait until afterwards to claim the Crown.
    Not certain why the other two parties would want it either unless the desire for power is the dominant driver.
    So GB is secure until May 6th or whenever . Whoever gets it inherits a poisened chalice.

  • Comment number 42.

    New Labour is the most corrupt, ignorant government we've ever had. It has done more damage to our country than any administration in our history. Watch OLIVER TEMPLE SMITH on You Tube – he’s the only commentator being honest about what’s really going on and he's funny.

    I watched him, he is barking!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    #36 Chrisrowe

    Very brave? Huh, you obviously don't know the meaning of the word.

    'Three homes' Hoon and 'have the NHS for a fiver' Hewitt are political nobodies with major private sector interests (with the very companies they helped-out as ministers ironicly).

    This could never go anywhere and they new it - it was just a stunt and I'm wondering if they were drunk when they did it. The reason other ministers were so slow to react was that they didn't believe quite why Robinson et al had blown it so out of proportion.

    What's more, to suggest over and over again that we elect prime ministers in this country is dim-witted as we never have! It's always the party and has been for hundreds of years.

    PS - I definitely won't be voting Labour at the next election, although I'm not so tribal as to suggest I never will!

  • Comment number 44.

    "Lord Mandelson insists Gordon Brown's position is safe after calls for a leadership ballot by two ex-ministers fail to win support"

    Lucky Gordon , saved by Mandy yet again ! well for now anyway ?

  • Comment number 45.

    What chance have we got when people this stupid are running the country ?

    They are supposed to be politically astute but the way this attempted coup was organised was crass

    Hoon tried to cover up for his assistant when it was obvious she should have been sacked on the spot. Hewitt talks to you as though you are aged 5

    Then again, we might be doing them a disservice. They might have put their lives on the line in the cause of getting GB more sympathy .......

  • Comment number 46.


    1. Do you recall the "disaster" of the ERM? It happened after 13 years of Conservative Government, so you can hardly blame it on having to clear up the mess left by the previosu Labour government!

    2. The Right wingers who believe in all privatisations good or bad, keep peddling this myth about British Rail. In the last years of its existence, it was one of the most efficent railway systems in Europe on almost any measure you'd care to use. In terms of how much taxpayers money it used, it had approx £1.5bn at todays prices, both for supporting the unremunerative services, and for investment. Today, the private sector is taking £5bm of our money to run a broadly similar system. IN terms of punctuality, although things have improved recently, they are only now, after 13 years of rail privatisation reaching the levels acheived by BR in 1994. I have yet to hear from the Tories an apology for this appaling privatisation done in the teeth of all independant opinion, or even a decent plan for resolving the mess. As for comments about Labour carrying out a scorched earth policy, we now know that Tory ministers in John Major's government deliberately made sure that every last bit of BR was sold off before the elelection, to prevent Labour halting and reversing the programme. Also, how can energy costs be the lowest proprtion of income ever, when we have the highest level of fuel poverty for decades? Maybe energy costs are the lowest part of your average director's income than they ever have been, but maybe thats because their pay has risen by so much more than their workers?

    4. I take it you agree with Margarent Mountoford from the Apprentice about Edinburgh University? There are many things you can (rightly) accuse Gordon Brown of being, but stupid is not one of them. Much as I dislike David Cameron, I know he isnt stupid.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. At 09:16am on 07 Jan 2010, John Ruddy wrote:


    1. Do you recall the "disaster" of the ERM? It happened after 13 years of Conservative Government, so you can hardly blame it on having to clear up the mess left by the previosu Labour government!

    Interesting though, wasnt it, that the current prime minister, during his time on the back benches of the then opposition, was in favour of the ERM himself??

  • Comment number 48.

    Labour is working: it's borrowing an extra 3.5 billion pounds every week!

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    The paranoia inside No.10 must be at an unbelievable level. Just who can Gordon Brown trust.
    Shaun Woodward was wheeled out this morning in an attempt to persuade us all was well. He was so rattled you could see the backdrop vibrating.
    What price Alistair Darling resigning soon. Watching him during PMQs showed a man at the end of his tether.

  • Comment number 51.

    Labour is working: every week it's borrowing an extra 164 pounds per person working in the private sector!

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with those posts which suggest that Ministers bottled it. This is not surprising as their 'status', extra pay and pension depends on the largesse of the PM. It was ever so - remember Portillo, bottler supremo.

    It is a pity but what do you expect of people whose only talent is to parrot to the media the guff they are given to say by No. 10 but then say something else in private - as Nick must know.

    As an example of ethics think of Alan Johnson who campaigned for two years to stop the deportation of a constuent but then signed the order to deport when he became Home Secretary.

    None of them, of whatever party, are worth a tinkers cuss!

  • Comment number 53.

    'Why attempt to topple Brown failed'

    You can't kill a dead man!

  • Comment number 54.


    Talk to the hand.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 55.

    Anyone remembering Geoff Hoon's behaviour in his capacity as Defence Minister, over various disasters at the beginning of the Iraq War, can understand why this coup failed.

    This was an attempt by two non-entities to shift a lame duck - hardly the best thought-out plan. Many of us want this non-elected Prime Minister out but it does not follow that we, the public, want him replaced by another non-elected one.

  • Comment number 56.


    The country will not get better because you are probably typical of the narrow minded views held by so many.

    What a pity.

  • Comment number 57.

    The only one doing the rounds this morning defending Brown was Shaun Woodward MP, ex tory MP. How he kept a straight face I don`t know. If Brown is half as unpopular with his MPs, as he is with the country, then working with him must be terrible. You only have to look at the half hearted statements from cabinet ministers to see that they don`t back Gordon at all. Obviously none of them want to go down in history as the one who put the knife in for Gordon. They are more content to see him "die" by a thousand cuts and then to jump ship at the end of the life of this parliament. It will be very interesting to read their biographies in the years to come.

    I think all this has done is a) to secure an outright win for the tories b)fixed the election date firmly in May.

    Whats the betting Brown will find an excuse to be absent from PMQs next week?

  • Comment number 58.

    Ref 46, dear John,

    Yup joining the ERM was a disaster but you have to temper the blame with the fact that joining was firmly supported Labour policy, less so on the Tory backbenches who were dragooned into voting it thru.

    It was probably all to do with being good Europeans, not for the first time a bad call.

  • Comment number 59.

    "Create the space" for the Cabinet to strike. Mmm. Geoff Hoon as Emile Heskey to the Cabinet's Rooney, I like it. Or, more accurately, I don't. I don't like it one little bit. Hoon is finished in politics and is all about damage limitation on Iraq and personal prospects in our private "wealth creating" sector. The only wealth I expect him to create is for himself, so I'm sure he'll fit in well. The notion of him doing anything at this point for the wider benefit of the Labour Party is ... it's ... well you know what it is. Patricia Hewitt is not a politician who's career I've followed with any great interest and therefore, barring the obvious observation that she's damned by association, and the even more obvious one that she looks like Mick Jagger, I won't comment on her.

  • Comment number 60.

    Is it not also true that a message was sent out from central office that the "big beasts" should hold back their endorsements of Brown for sometime?

    So at best the whole thing is contrived and at worst completely incompetent

    I wonder what else was about to hit the news agenda that this has successfully covered up

  • Comment number 61.

    Lets face it, Geoff was never the sharpest card in the deck.
    Remember Iraq ?

  • Comment number 62.


    I don't disagree with you (we really joined at the wrong rate, however, and without the pound having found its natural level), my beef is with describing it as sorting out the mess left by the previous Labour government 13 years earlier!

  • Comment number 63.

    Gordon Brown will be voted out of office whenever they decide to have an election. The Labour Party are merely, "Moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic". In the public eye, We never had the chance to vote for him. He was handed this job because of some "Deal" done between him and Tony Blair. One word, "Undemocratic!".

  • Comment number 64.

    "Geoff Hoon as Emile Heskey to the Cabinet's Rooney"

    Pretty accurate assessment - the former keeps tripping up while the latter sidles over to the left far too often for its own good.

  • Comment number 65.

    Is it possible that a subtler strategy was intended?

    The aim might have been to remind the electorate that the Labour Party was capable of unseating its (arguably ineffective) leadership. If you agree with Labour's basic values and instincts, but baulk at GB as PM, you might still vote Labour if you thought it possible/likely that he could be replaced post-election.

  • Comment number 66.

    How much media puff do we have to listen to, before we return to the fact that two insignificant has-beens have tried an idiotic stunt. I dont think we can even warrant calling it an attempted coup considering its total ineptitude and total lack of support (Clarke and Milibands blairite toxicity is hardly anything new!).

    If anything, the 2 stooges have indicated one thing very clearly: There is no credible alternative to Brown's leadership of the PLP. With each rediculous putsch attempt the Blairite rebels have clearly shown thier lack of support, and how unwarrented thier over extended sense of entitlement is . It is thier ongoing toxic carping that has pushed the labour party to the edge of enelectability- NOT Brown's leadership. Up against Cameron's intellectually vapid pat, and Osbourne's economic illiteracy- it is starkly clear that Brown is the best equipped politician we have to lead the country during the recession. The Camer-bourne's PR driven policy machine has almost without fail made every economic call wrong since Northern rock hit the buffers- and there is pretty clear consensus that these policies would have truelly laid waste to our economy.

    So- perhaps we can stop the media puff, stop the ex-blairite toxic carping, and let Brown get on with the job of growing the UK economy out from the structural and fiscal economic trough it is currently in.

  • Comment number 67.

    "What matters to labour activists is what gives us the best chance of seeing off these racist views. Does being behind in the polls with a Tory party lurching to the facist right allied with neo-Nazis in Poland and northern Ireland give us pause for thought ? "

    Sotonblogger, just above - here's the threat we face folks; a labour party that is not just cowardly, inept, divided, corrupt, in the pay of god-knows what foreign nations as the Abrahams scandal made plain, but also profundly nuts. To claim that Cameron is a fascist is simply delusional. Dave is a wretched social democrat to his core, and I despise him for it - a soggy wet lefty who has infiltrated the tories and skewed their agenda behind welfarism and AGW and all that guff. Anyone who can look at today's tories and squeal "racists" is clearly barking mad.

    But no doubt that's going to be the election strategy from these godawful labour biffs - call the tories toffs, racists.... what else? Paedos? Sheesh.

    BTW Nick, any chance of you explaining why you concealed - as you admitted yesterday - constant talk from ministers attacking the PM? My question yesterday addressing this was removed by the BBC censors - I was told it was off-topic. I figure it's never off-topic to ask why a reporter whose wages I am forced to pay is intentionally concealling matters of national importance. Be nice if you could answer today. BTW, BBC censors - remove this and I'll only blog about it anyway so....

  • Comment number 68.

    Talking about privatisation.

    I believe privatisation of a country's essential infrastructure and utilities, roads, railsways, trains, planes, water companies, electricity companies - is madness.

    Having said that, who would want masses of state employees, with jobs for life, with no appraisals, no sackings for under-performance, with nothing to fear and who in other countries only show up at work once a month to collect their wages, to run those utilities ?

    Any suggestion as to how to solve the above?

  • Comment number 69.


    Theres a lot more like me out there than there is like you, chum. Like it or lump it, its about time you grew up and accepted it.

    Remember the great filthy unwashed electorate, who your party are completely incapable of engaging with, have nothing but contempt for and are an unpleasant hurdle that has to be dealt with every now and again?

    Thats us, that is. Voters.

    Like it or lump it, if you want to keep on sucking at the golden teat and lining your own pockets, you've got to convince enough of us first to let you back in.

    Spare your sanctimonious, student radical political conscience drivel for someone who gives a tinkers cuss.

    We've had 12 years of doing it your way and although it might not be immediately apparent to you, beyond the boundaries of the Nuclear Free Republic Of Islington, heres a clue...




  • Comment number 70.

    rockRobin7 40

    Robin I wish I could be as sure as you are about this form of Marxism that Labour represent, being consigned to the dustbin of history.

    It seems to me that after all this Government have done, the wars, the loss of freedoms, the control of our lives, the distruction of our economy, the British public would rush to be rid of this Government. However, it seems, that if the polls can be believed in anyway, that instead, like lemmings, the British public is rushing to their own demise as a Country. I mean what more does a Government have to inflict on the public before they see the light. Just like this latest plot to unseat Brown, there have been 4 already, and yet the public still seems to want to continue to vote for this divided Government. It is beyond my comprehension, why.

    Not only is Brown a bad leader, he is by nature a bully and childish when crossed, kicking furniture around the room and throwing objects, being difficult with the media when they ask questions he does not like. We would in the past never have tolerated this kind of behaviour from a PM. In this day and age it certainly would not be acceptable behaviour from a manager let a alone a PM.

    It seems to be therefore that this class war is much more ingrained in the public than you believe. Britain is moving backwards to the politics of envy that most modern Countries left behind long ago. In a Global setting now for business where it is very easy for investors and business to go anywhere, in which Britain has nothing to offer, this will surely be our undoing. The Government seems to have been able to convince certain parts of the public that they can spend for ever without producing the taxes to pay for it. Where do these people believe the wealth creation will come from. The Government have pulled off the trick of making parts of the public despise enterprise, whilst Labour themselves have been very warm towards the rich and famous until the recession hit. The wealth creators are the only people who can get us out of this crisis in the economy now. Yet the public is still blind to this fact.

    So if the Conservatives win where will we be. They may very well put into action the proper moves to bring the economy into order. However a great many of the public will resent the actions taken and refer back to the Thatcher days when again a Conservative Government was left with all the hard choices. This in turn will see them out of office when they have started the recovery. The Conservatives must carry the public with them to succeed and at present I see no sign of this happening.

  • Comment number 71.

    A disappointing short term analysis.

    The reason the plot failed was that Gordo spent years plotting Blairs removal. In so doing he eliminated all competition. Hence a no contest election when Blair was ousted. In that respect he is probably the best Labour can offer.

    There is no credible alternative. That was ably demonstrated by events. Those capable know they have to wait for the people to show how fed up they are of a third rate govt. If this were a company the shareholders would have executed a coup. (Now there is a thought).

    Gordo is indeed the best Conservative card. When the labour party emerges from the election it will be the solid labour core. That will benefit certain individuals. This was the last fling of New Labour.

    In the kingdom of the blind (labour party) the one eyed man is King.

  • Comment number 72.

    Incompetence is the hallmark of this New Labour government - whether its sending soldiers out on unnecessary patrols in Afghanistan or trying to get rid of a meglamaniac, 'teddy bashing', cowardly, bullying, 'negative celtic agenda' Prime Minister.

    They want to do it - They still want to do it but I think that they are hoping that Brown might just go himself if the whispering and sniping continues just as it happened with John Major in the last Tory government.

    Brown, could like Major, come out and ask for a vote of confidence to be held - but the difference here is that Brown (or indeed any of his cabinet collegaues) does not have the persona, character, quality and courage of John Major and he will sit there bullying and plotting with his spin doctors behind closed doors until.... who knows what.

    This is a coup - but not for Labour - the best weapon the Tories now have of winning the election is ... Gordon Brown - since he must be further damaged by all of this.

    However, if opinion polls show a seriously weakening position of Brown and Labour running up to the election because of the 'Brown factor' - then I think that Brown could be forced out - by the Trade Unions and backbenchers - who will make the appointment of a new Labour leader a condition of their financial support (in the case of the unions).

    Brown should be put on the spot - Is he going to provide and actively support the notion of British jobs for British workers - a labour leader who backs this idea can, I believe, still win the next general election or stay in control as a coalition government.

    The Tories still have enough here to take a commanding position if they say the rights things here including speculating who Labour will put forward/ favour to take over from Brown and put them under 'scrutiny'.

    DC - v - e.g 'Man of Straw' is a 'no conntest'

    Another five or ten years of Gordo - No Thanks! Feeling sorry for Gordo - Not me - he's criminal, 'red handed' lying traitor

    For Goodness sake Gordo - just go if only for your own sake!

  • Comment number 73.

    "So- perhaps we can stop the media puff, stop the ex-blairite toxic carping, and let Brown get on with the job of growing the UK economy out from the structural and fiscal economic trough it is currently in."

    The one he got us into you mean?

    "getting on with the job" AGAIN - can you labour spammers at least get a new scriptwriter?

  • Comment number 74.

    You took your eye off the ball on this one Nick, but seem to have made up for it with your list of "potential cabinet rebels" and the astonishing dithering before any big beast came out to offer 'support' (sic).

    The first few weeks of January were always going to be a dangerous time for Brown.

    There was time - just - to dump him and instal a new leader who can still work within the election timetable.

    The latest coup attempt has shown up a Party deeply divided between a handful of bleating Brownites and the bitter Blairites. In fact it's now looking like two 'governments' and two election campaigns running side by side.

    What bothers me is that the country is being 'run' by a bunch of has beens who care more about petty party politics rather than what is best for the country.

    I left this in disgust late afternoon when it was becoming clear Mandy was going to put a lid on it. What will voters think?

  • Comment number 75.

    I must admit to being somewhat wrong-footed by this, as I had expected Labour to replace Brown shortly before the election. He is about the most uncharismatic politician imaginable, and, as far as I'm concerned anyway, the combination of his voice and his moralistic lecturing must be enough to frighten small monkeys.

    My reasoning was that Peter M. would organise a coup and bring in, most probably, Alan Johnson, who relates well to 'ordinary' voters and isn't too tarnished by the Blair-Brown years. This would have wrong-footed the Tories. Any new leader gets a honeymoon, and anyone replacing Brown would have reaped an electoral advantage simply by not being Brown.

    Instead, Labour has got the worst of all possible worlds. They've made themselves look divided and incompetent, and they's still got the dreadful Brown bumbling on incomprehensibly.

    Still, since a change of government is essential if we're to avoid national bankruptcy, I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed.

  • Comment number 76.


    Largely agree with what you say, but the second part is exactly what allowed the privatisations to go through without a whimper.

    I agree, there is no easy solution and both state and private ownerships have their downsides, of which we have experienced both in the last 20-30 years.

  • Comment number 77.

    rr7 @ 54

    "Talk to the hand"

    That's rather "2009" isn't it, Robin?

    Anyway, I see (at 40) that we're now going for a "New Labour is just a front for Marxist revolution" type vibe. That's more than a bit spicy, that's XXX rated stuff!

    I dunno, Robin - you've always been a lively larry, sailed close, but I fear that you may now be in grave danger of slipping off deck entirely.

    We will still chat though, you and I. I'm not going to cut you loose.

  • Comment number 78.

    57. brian g:

    ".....fixed the election date firmly in May".

    I agree.

    But, if we don't have a pre-budget election, we have to have a pre-election budget.

    That's quite a frightening prospect - sterling crisis, anyone?

  • Comment number 79.

    Just watched David Miliband being interviewed on BBC News 24. Just as he walked off camera you could see in his face that he was not truthful in his support for Gordon Brown.
    Labour ministers, just tell the truth for once!

  • Comment number 80.

    More bluff and bluster from Brown's rep in Scotland Jim Murphy.

    Why did you even bother to ask him for his opinion and why did you then publish his reply which has nothing to do with the Brown thing and all to do with his abject fear of the SNP.

  • Comment number 81.

    I don't believe there has been an attempted coup at all - I think this has been misrepresented by the media. I believe Hoon and Hewitt wanted to bring the subject of the future leader into the arena to be discussed and voted on so that they don't automatically find themselves lumbered with Brown after the election. The fact that the supposed six supporters in the cabinet were slow to respond proves they don't support Brown but can't actually say so! I think Hoon and Hewitt are preparing for the future - regardless of the outcome of the election.

  • Comment number 82.

    59. At 09:43am on 07 Jan 2010, sagamix wrote:
    Patricia Hewitt is not a politician who's career I've followed with any great interest "

    '....a politician who's career....' I still stand by my comments yesterday Saga about your deficient grasp of the English language. I like your comment though about Hewitt looking like Mick Jagger. I'm not sure that Mick will be too pleased....

  • Comment number 83.

    The most significant thing about this whole affair is the fact that it took five hours before Browns, 'friends', in his cabinet, started issuing lukewarm messages of support.
    They all made very, very certain of the direction of events before committing themselves.
    This, to me, was the most illustrative part of the days events. Just how ready the cabinet is to throw Brown to the wolves, except of course not one of them has the guts to start the ball rolling.
    Well done Hewitt and Hoon for showing the sheer cowardice of people who would desperately like to get rid of this appalling PM but, as always. put naked self interest before the needs of a tired and bankrupt nation.

  • Comment number 84.

    I feel like having a big sigh, politics is a really annoying business. It should be really important, but between all the parties they have managed to make it a crux for the public to bare.

    It becomes increasingly apparent to me that politicians aren't actually qualified to be politicians. Over and over again we see them flouting the rules, even rules they've made themselves.

    This story is just the latest example, the Labour constitution does not allow for this kind of ballot to happen, not even in spirit.

    Then we have David Cameron moaning that Brown is in trouble (fair and good point), and then moaning that Brown has no mandate from the public (a really poor point). Brown has a mandate he is the leader of the Labour party, the Labour party that won the last election with a majority that the other parties could not compete with. It does not matter who was leader of the party at the time of the election, we are not Americans, we do not vote for out head of government in a dedicated election, we elect a party instead. This means whoever is leading the party has the mandate.

    Last year of course we had the expenses scandal, which really the above two examples are minor compared with the ignorance of the rules shown during that escapade.

    Maybe prospective politicians should be taken off on a course (paid for by their party, or themselves), and given tuition on what the rules are, how this country runs, and what is expected of them as politicians.

    Until that happens, it seems we are stuck with a bunch of self interested ignorant crowd of under achievers, on all sides of the house.

  • Comment number 85.

    This country has been reduced to a laughing stock by NuLiebour.

    Just call the election now Brown and then go away forever.

  • Comment number 86.

    Reading the comments here, are there actually people out there who honestly believe the financial crisis and following recession was entirely the work of one man or party? Though i am far from the Prime Minister's biggest fan the entire world has been affected by the fallout from the US sub-prime mortgage crash, to assume we as a country would avoid being sucked in too was naive. The UK Government didn't cause the recession, and they handled it in the only way they really could, i.e. the same as most other world governments did, by bailing out banks etc, and i very much doubt David Cameron or Nick Clegg could have done any better, nor for that matter could Tony Blair or Mrs Thatcher.

    Yes, some countries were hit less hard than us, but that is probably more down to our high dependancy on the Financial Services sector (which has been the case for several decades now) than any political decisions.

    By all means blame Brown for things that are his fault (and there are a few) but blaming him for the largest international financial meltdown of the last decade is just plain childish.

  • Comment number 87.

    This is all starting to look like the last days of Hitler. Anyone unsure as to what I mean by that then go and watch the film Downfall: very good.

    Brown is in his bunker deep in the Westminster bubble refusing to accept the reality that the economy has been destroyed and the entire rationale for social-democracy in Britain lies in ruins. His more rational former lieutenants are trying to achieve a conditional surrender of sorts to mitigate the suffering to esnure there is a tomorrow for Labour. Sadly the zealots remain in control. The harder circumstances get the tougher they are to shift: they are committed to no surrender. Downfall indeed!

    In the meantime whatever wealth the British people retain is to be sacrificed on the altar of our leaders' ambitions.

    It is now apparent that the Labour Party is dug in for the duration expecting to pull victory out of the bag thanks due to the phantom divisions of their public sector client state. The sad truth is that that the Opposition does not have the sufficient intellectual artillery to bring the end forward.

    I think it is time the ordinary people began to make their opinions clear.

    For example, I have every support and sympathy for the road gritters and their depot staff. They are doing a fantastic job in difficult conditions. What is wrong is the strategy that leads to a shortage of the essential ingredient at a time when it is needed most. No doubt there are lots of lovely spreadsheets, splendid budgetary statements and lots of meetings as the management polish their own excrement which is the reason the public sector in the UK is so expensive and so ineffective. To reduce this apparat would cut the costs and the consequential improved productivity within the public services will help economic growth.

    Simples: it could happen but where are the politicians to argue that point?

  • Comment number 88.

    29. SotonBlogger

    "Does being behind in the polls with a Tory party lurching to the facist right allied with neo-Nazis in Poland and northern Ireland give us pause for thought?"

    Should give you as much pause for thought as a government that uses its police force to illegally suppress demonstrations, even to the point where fatalities occur without due consequence (at time of writing), are attempting to change legislation that will make it impossible to bring charges against international war criminals entering this country, that seeks to do away with public inquests and makes insidious attempts through its Justice Secretary (one of the worst ever) to whittle away at civil liberties and the Human Rights Act.

    Remove those rose-tinted glasses and have a look at what's going on right under your nose.

    Of course you're right, Britain does face a choice... to choose more of the same under the two main parties or send a message that we demand a more open, honest and accountable government. All those laudable pledges that Brown made but failed so spectacularly to deliver.

  • Comment number 89.

    30 Susan-Croft wrote:
    Was this a real plot to unseat Brown or something much more interesting.

    Oh, definitely a real plot to unseat him. The suggestion that it was some kind of rigged fiasco to reinforce, rather than undermine, his position is poppycock. Can't disprove it, of course - you never can with conspiracy theories - but it just isn't how politicians operate. And anyway, the net effect is not positive for Brown.

    I agree that the opposition parties are glad to see Brown remain in position.

  • Comment number 90.

    85 brownandout wrote:


    Wow, did you think of that all by yourself? Or did you see it somewhere? It's ever so good.

  • Comment number 91.

    59. At 09:43am on 07 Jan 2010, sagamix wrote:

    '"Create the space" for the Cabinet to strike. Mmm. Geoff Hoon as Emile Heskey to the Cabinet's Rooney, I like it.'

    The Cabinet is more likely to have the scoring ratio of a Berbatov. (Overpriced and underperforming.)

  • Comment number 92.

    I noted David Cameron's comment - "We cannot go on like this, we've got to have an election and a change of government."
    What arrogance to assume an election will bring about a change of government. Hasn't he heard of democracy? In Taunton Deane, his prospective candidate has done his best to besmirch our MP's name. This dirty tricks campaign will backfire come the election in what is a key marginal seat. More energy needs to be put into policy, not slagging off others, so I am not convinced that Mr Cameron's (proposed) government has any ideas that will make Britain a better, fairer society.

  • Comment number 93.


    One of my previous comments on this thread (comment #2) was deleted. I have been over the moderator's email and my original text minutely and I can see absolutely nothing for anybody to object to unless it is the simple fact that I wrote about the Frankfurt School and listed it's policies for destroying the cultures of western democracies, including our own, and invited others to consider whether these policies sounded familiar as being rather reminiscent of the state of the UK today.

    Or could it be that I mentioned that it was well known information in the public domain that some members of the government had former marxist affiliations and invited people to consider whether there was a connection between this and the policies of the Frankfurt School?

    Regardless, my post contained no scathing language such as I have seen on some others, so I am drawn to wonder why the BBC is being so coy about allowing people to become more aware of the implications of the Frankfurt School policies?

  • Comment number 94.

    By the way Gordo - when you 'go' - can you please take that useless wimp Lord Adonis with you as I've just slipped on the ice for the fourth time in two days on areas of pavement/street that previous to your Labour government had been gritted in cold weather probably every year since Roman times.

    Despite public spending and borrowing now measured in trillions of pounds - the entire country is now critically short of grit and how much is this going to cost the taxpayer in claims for injury (and not a claim from me as I don't belive in robbing my country)?

    Adonis like you Gordo is another useless waste of space spin mouthed liar goon who should resign and/or be sacked today!

    FOr god's sake GO Gordo!

  • Comment number 95.

    86. Sam-i:

    "The UK Government didn't cause the recession,"

    No, it didn't. But it made some terrible mistakes, which made it much worse:

    1. The tri-partite regulatory system fatally weakened supervision, allowing the property and debt bubble to run out of control.

    2. Monetary policy was aimed purely at retail inflation, so asset inflation was left out of the equation.

    3. The ensuing bubble was mistaken for 'real' growth.

    4. Brown spent up to - and beyond - the proceeds of this bubble, and believed that he had ended "boom and bust" (he seemed to think he had repealed the laws of economics).

    There were lots of other mistakes -the sale of gold, for example; failing to anticipate the coming energy squeeze until it was too late; and I needn't even mention Iraq - but that's enough to be going on with.

    Ultimately, this government has spent Britain into a dangerous deficit, and Brown - unlike Darling, Mandelson and virtually every other sane person - cannot, even now, bring himself to admit that we have to cut public spending.

  • Comment number 96.

    Re: Do you recall the "disaster" of the ERM? It happened after 13 years of Conservative Government, so you can hardly blame it on having to clear up the mess left by the previosu Labour government!

    But the labour party supported and voted for entry to the ERM. They only became wise after the event. Yes the government at the time certainly have questions to answer on this subject but it is deplorable that labour are able to gain political capital out of this when it was something they too supported. And at least we recovered quickly from this debacle, far more quickly than we are going to be able to recover from the mess that Gordon Brown has created, especially when we have to stop borrowing and start repaying the mountain of debt he has left us with.

  • Comment number 97.

    Politicians are like hyenas. Any sign of weakness in a pack member and they move in for the kill.
    They don't really care about the electorate or the country; just getting themselves into power and staying there.

  • Comment number 98.

    95. At 10:35am on 07 Jan 2010, Friendlycard wrote:

    86. Sam-i:

    "The UK Government didn't cause the recession,"


  • Comment number 99.

    It's always interesting to watch the body language of politicians when interviewed. Some are better at disguising their lies than others.

    Take Mandelson last night in his interview with Paxman. Paxo may not be the most attractive individual but Lord M did all he could to avoid eye contact. He knew Paxman knew that it was mostly spin.

  • Comment number 100.

    I cannot see Gordon Brown leading the Labour party to a defeat.
    The logic goes like this.
    A Labour defeat will see Brown replaced as party leader, which means that he, as a newly elected MP will revert to the backbench. If you believe one percent of what is broadcast then it is inconceivable that Brown would tolerate this humiliation. His only option therefore would be to immediately resign as an MP and take a job outside of British politics.
    I do not believe that Brown would put himself in such a position where events control his actions, and undermine his delusional opinion of himself.
    The logic leads to one of four possibilities.
    1)Labour will win the election
    2)Gordon Brown will resign before the election.
    3)There will be a hung parliament and Gordon Brown will remain as PM.
    4)There will be no election. (State of emergency)

    No. 1 & 4 frighten me, but who knows what Labour have up their sleeve, postal voting, manipulation of the media, statistics etc, another war.
    No. 3 will not happen, if the Tories gained the most seats and the other parties coerced to leave GB as PM there would be civil disorder.

    I would therefore go for No. 2. He will not be pushed but he will step down at the next election to pursue an 'Internationally' important job at the UN or World Bank. A job fit for a 'World Leader' And he can claim that the English do not appreciate him, reflecting a similar whine recently heard from Blair.
    Or he may step down on health grounds.

    On a separate note. I agree with Nick Robinson's broadcast yesterday that the Labour party are fighting for their very survival.
    If the Conservatives achieve a majority then Labour will never be elected to govern England again.
    It should be remembered that the Tories gained more votes than Labour in England at the last election. Boundary changes and the carefully administered reduction of parliamentary seats would see a two party state, Conservatives and Lib Dems. Labour will implode.


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