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Plotters, quitters and fighters

Nick Robinson | 14:02 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

This is a week when Labour MPs have to ask themselves a very important question: can they stage a comeback with Gordon Brown as their leader, or are they doomed to defeat with him at the helm? And if the latter, is there any chance of or point in replacing him?

Gordon BrownSome - let's call them the plotters - believe that Mr Brown is taking their party to certain oblivion and are still desperately searching for ways to remove him and to install a new leader by January. Look out for an anti-Brown candidate to run for the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party or a repeat of the letter-writing campaign which helped ease out Tony Blair.

Many - who will not like to be referred to as the quitters - agree with this analysis but have given up hope of installing a new leader who just might do better. Some - like Stephen Byers - are giving up politics altogether. Some will soldier on but with little hope.

Others - the fighters - are beginning to hope that a recovery might just be possible. This week, Gordon Brown will try to rally them with what's being described as a "focused" Queen's Speech - focused on beating the Tories, that is.

After a series of conversations with a series of front- and backbenchers, here's my summary of the views of the different camps. (Of course, some people's positions stay fixed. Others move from one camp to the other.)

The plotters' view

• The electorate have made their minds up about Gordon Brown; nothing will change their minds
• If you don't believe us, they say, try what I call the "cereal box test"; that is: "Complete the following sentence: 'I want five more years of Gordon Brown as my prime minister because...'"
• In 1996, just before he was hit by an electoral landslide, John Major's Conservatives were polling 34%; under Gordon Brown, Labour is now polling 25% [Source: ICM]
• Either David Miliband or Alan Johnson would do better; for goodness sake, even Harriet would do better
• A change of leadership would no longer produce an early election
• Hardly anyone in the cabinet - not even Peter Mandelson any more - will be prepared to fight for Gordon
• Everything Gordon's touched since the autumn has turned to dust
• Even an economic recovery won't help us - it didn't help John Major

The quitters' view

• The plotters may be right about Gordon, but...
• ...maybe Gordon will talk to friends and family over Christmas and stand down for the good of the party...
• ...oh alright, he probably won't - but you can't force him out without a painful and divisive fight, since he really believes it's not over yet
• If we couldn't get rid of him when five cabinet ministers resigned, how on earth do you think we'll remove him now?
• We've had a good run... I wonder if there are any directorships I could take on?

The fighters' view

• We won the Glasgow by-election with almost 60% of the vote - so much for the talk of the SNP sweeping through Scotland
• The Tories are struggling to stay above 40% in the polls, whereas in 1996 Labour was often above 50%
• The Tories need a massive swing to even get a majority of one
• Cameron has not "sealed the deal" with the electorate, as the electorate still don't trust his party
• The public doesn't want the Tories' "age of austerity": Tory cuts will always be scarier than Labour cuts
• Tory EU policy is an awkward compromise which will fall apart under pressure
• Voters want a guarantees of better schools and hospitals, not Tory gambles with them
• When politics becomes a choice of two governments and not a referendum, Labour will close the gap
• An economic recovery's just around the corner

Which camp would you be in?


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Lets face it, we're stuck with gordon for the duration, no alternative candidate will be willing to act as prime minister for a couple of months before suffering the inevitable career ending general election defeat.

    Nobody ambitious enough to want the job is going to want it on those terms.

    Not even Harriet Harperson.

    So its another 5 or 6 months with a freewheeling government coasting carelessly and directionlessly towards the inevitable ousting.

  • Comment number 2.

    My personal view is that what would be best for my party (the "Nearly Anybody but Labour" party - I actually prefer Labour to the BNP so I am not totally against them) is for the "Plotters" to try and get rid of Gordon Brown only to push him into suicide bombing the party and killing off any lingering chances of electoral victory.

    I am sure that he has dirt on many of the people he works with - maybe he would be the kind of person to leave that dirt in a place where a Sun writer might find it!

  • Comment number 3.

    I have often heard you, and others, use the phrase "that Cameron has not sealed the deal with the electorate - as Tony Blair did". Does it not occur to you - and indeed it should - that after Blair the electorate are wary about "sealing the deal". The electorate don't wish to be caught out twice. I am surprised that you, as a political commentator, have not thought of this.

  • Comment number 4.

    I really don't think the plotters have much chance.

    2 things seem pretty obvious to me:

    1. Gordon Brown is the biggest electoral liability that Labour have had since Michael Foot.

    2. But even if they do manage to get rid of Gordon, Labour are still pretty much guaranteed a crushing defeat at the next election, albeit not quite as bad as the one they'll suffer under Gordon.

    So, given point 2, it's extremely hard to believe that anyone would be daft enough to want the job of leading Labour into defeat at the next election. If Miliband, Johnson, or Harman have ambitions to be PM, they are not going to want to start their leadership career by leading Labour to a crushing electoral defeat. Far better to wait until after the election (when Gordon will surely have to go), and then they have 4-5 years as leader of the opposition to get their act together and have a reasonable shot at it next time.

    The plotters can plot all they like, but without anyone willing to take the job, the plots will come to naught.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's too late, even if they change leader. Who are the contenders, Milliband, Johnson, both have been shown to be weak and indecisive. Balls and Harman are also a joke.
    I am afraid Brown with the help of Mandleson will take labour to their worst defeat ever.
    Look at the record for twelve years of Labour rule. Two wars, massive unemployment, massive debt, blatant lying.
    The country cannot afford another four years of Labour.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick so you think the 23 October PLP putsch is off, for one reason or another.

    Good: The NuLabour wreck will be that much greater with Bozo Brown in the driving seat.

  • Comment number 7.

    Brown will never leave of his own accord so the electorate will have to do the job for him.

    As long as he can stay on that world stage which feeds his delusion of grandeur so much no one else will shift him.

    The voters are in a state of apathy at the moment for they know that this drift will carry on until this parliament is dissolved. When that happens and government spin and cohersion have to stop then the real fight will begin.

    If the parties have not got their acts together including a proper expenses policy and a list of who's in and who's out by then as well as a believable exit strategy on Afghanistan then they waste their time looking for support.

    As far as Brown's economic recovery is concerned like everything else it will turn to dust. Nicely timed for after the election.

  • Comment number 8.

    The main difference between the end of Major's leadership and now is that then there was a belief that Labour under Blair offered a credible government. At the moment Cameron has not achieved that status.

    He will probably get in because he isn't Gordon Brown. Blair got in partially because he wasn't John Major, but also because people thought he had something to offer.

    So that poses the problem for Labour do they provide someone who isn't Gordon Brown ie change the leadership, or do they give up? If Brown went quietly - perhaps using failing eye sight over the next 5 years as an excuse - and there was a relatively smooth hand over, then I think Cameron would be in trouble. Maggie and Tony won because they had something to offer David Cameron hasn't yet made his mark.

    The decision is yours Gordon. Which do you love more the Labour Party and what it stands for (bit of a vague concept, I know) or being PM? The public don't want Gordon Brown to remain as PM. He has to accept that even if he feels that is unfair. He will have to leave it to history to get an objective judgement of how well he did.

  • Comment number 9.

    #6 My Blog

    Whoops meant - 23 November

  • Comment number 10.

    Very interesting blog. A neat way to summarise Labour's dilemma. I would be a quitter, no question about it. Nothing can now stop a huge change in British politics.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick sorry to be pedantic but wouldn't "Even an economic recovery won't help us, it didn't help John Major," not be a quitter's argument?

    Looking at the polls it appears to me that 90% of the electorate has it's mind made up about what way it's going to vote. Glasgow NE is as untypical a constituency as you can find, Labour haven't faced serious opposition there since the 1930's and they needed time to set up a strong campaigning machine, they won't be able to do that across the board. While the Tories' headline poll figures have slipped slightly, the regional splits are still showing them with massive leads in the marginals rich Midlands. Labour is set for utter carnage in that part of the world on May 6th (172 days and counting!) any MP they have there with a majority less than 10,000 is likely to go.

  • Comment number 12.

    But Nick,

    Willie Bain seems to think his election victory in Glasgow was due to the wonderful job Gordon Brown is doing as PM?

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't think it would make a great difference who was leader at this juncture, neither Miliband, Harman or Johnston have the ability to inspire the electorate.

    Part of NuLab's problems derive from the fact that there is not an obvious successor, if there had been anyone significantly better, I am sure there would have been a coup by now.

    Milliband appears aloof and arrogant and is closely associated with Blair

    Harman is a divisive figure and the press would slate her

    Johnstons capabilities are as yet unproven - affable chap but up to the top job?

    In many ways a coup could consign NuLab to a bigger defeat as the danger is that they could appear divided and unfit for government.

  • Comment number 14.

    Dumb struck with horror at the mere thought:

    "Complete the following sentence: 'I want five more years of Gordon Brown as my prime minister because...'"

  • Comment number 15.

    Good article Nick.

    I think the Fighters are probably deluding themselves, but their belief is nonetheless admirable in a certain way. I'd also guess that these are the fewest in number.

    The Plotters are wasting their time, I think. There may be a "Milliband-Bounce" effect if they were to get their way (or a "Harmon-Nosedive" in that eventuality) but I can't see it being enough to win over the electorate. Fact is, if there was anyone in the Labour party capable of getting them out of the mess they're in, they'd have done it already.

    The Quitters have probably got it right, and like the rest of us, just wish he'd call the election and get it over with.

  • Comment number 16.

    "Which camp would you be in?"

    Who cares? Labour is finished, and only those with the most to lose are spending too much time worrying about this sort of nonsense.

    As for " much for the talk of the SNP sweeping through Scotland", not so fast. A rather naive political own goal in terms of the timing of the announcement of the cancellation of GARL gave Labour a stick to beat the SNP Scottish Government with, and boy did they use it. Don't expect the SNP to make that mistake again.

    Also, bear in mind that the SNP have generally held fairly low expectations for a breakthrough in the West of Scotland, despite Glasgow East last year. If Scotland is the Labour stronghold, Glasgow and the West of Scotland are the inner sanctum. Satan will be having a snowball fight before the tribalists lose their grip here.

    There will be plenty of time for you to have your post-mortem after nexy year's GE, and I predict here and now it will be Gordon what lost it.

  • Comment number 17.

    #12 My own post,

    Missed the chapter on fighters, which would include Willie Bain.

    Sorry posting in a rush.

    Does this blog not imply that had Gordon Brown been leader in 2005, the GE result might have been slightly different?

    What difference would a new leader make?

    Change in policy?

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick even Harperson isn't that desperate that she'd happily take on a sinking ship, mores the pity as if it cast her out into the wilderness along with Brown that would be even better.

  • Comment number 19.

    And again, the age old duopoly... "focused on beating the tories"... the reason Cameron hasnt sealed the deal is that the public arent convinced he offers the break with the past.

    As Boiler says, Blair was seen as not only not being Major, but a credible fresh alternative.

    Ha. Boy, were you lot sold a lemon on that score! Not only that, y'all voted for another two mouthfuls of it as well. Only reason you kept on sucking the lemon is that it still just about tasted preferable to the tory rotten onion that appeared to be the alternative.

    The thing is now, to continue the fruit analogy, this tick, regardless of its colour has lost its flavour and is going rotten. No matter whether blue or red or yellow, the public are disenchanted with the political elite and the establishment and how things are done. This is what needs to change.

    The PLP stand at a crossroads. There is still the possibility of four more years and Cameron throwing 2010. Whether Brown will lead them into it or beyond it is moot. Eitherway, whoever wins in 2010 will almost certainly be given the boot after 1 parliament, if that when the house of cards that Brown built finally collapses, which it will. So, really, it doesnt matter, the damage is already done, its just taking a while to sink in.

    Gordon has no love for the party, only himself and his political ego. The remainder of his cabinet are no different. Self aggrandisers, egotists and "even Harriet".

    FWIW, I think that the dark horse for the leadership who might just make a difference and who could maybe save it, if he grew a bigger pair is John Hutton.

    Real, susbtantial, meaningful change is what is needed. And, TBH, we arent going to get that from any of the main players. The electorate face a much harder decision now than they did 5 years ago. Do you or I or any of us trust the dumbed down celeb obsessed populace to call it right?

    Last one out turn the lights off please.

  • Comment number 20.


    "....because I need a check-up from the neck-up"?

  • Comment number 21.

    the whole concept of party politics has shown itself over recent years to be highly flawed and in dire need of reform.
    who cares if this labour party can win the next election with mr brown in charge, i feel its time they were disbanded or disolved prior to any election but my feeling is the same with all parties and their bad habit of putting themselves before the country.
    these modern mp's seem to preffer to play the media card and self premote themselves and their party and seem to have no original ideas unless their party agrees them, and that they seem to do very rarely.
    then you get the party infighting that in reality stops the party in its tracks and if that party happens to be in government the country suffers as a whole.

  • Comment number 22.

    My simplistic view is that Gordon has taken a hell of a lot of punches and blows. He started his term of office in bullish fashion. He has become the torreador's bull however, lying wounded with the spears sticking in him.

    I have always thought he is so arrogant and politically driven (NWO) that he will continue his term. I am still inclined to think it. Even a miraculous upturn of the financial situation will not redeem him. He will never have the time (or the expertise) to redress the dreadful immigration experiment his government have dumped on us.

    However, if there is an orchestrated campaign by his party they might get him out. If they do, my money's on Milliband, but I actually do think David Cameron will triumph whatever.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry, meant to add - I would be a quitter.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nick; reasonable categorisations I suppose and, going with them, I would say ... even remembering the sheer inspiration of Hartlepool ... I'm a Quitter not a Fighter

  • Comment number 25.



    Had he gone up against Howard, he would have lost. Almost certainly would have been a hung parliament or a defeat.

    All because Blair didn't grow a pair and sack him after 10 years of briefing against him.

    Got a lot to answer for, TB....

  • Comment number 26.

    The public are fed up to the back teeth of the wholesale expenses abuse and it will be a long long time before they even approach becoming electable.

    The full scale of the economic nightmare is still to be revealed , and until it is ,we will all feel the pain.

    Gordon is just hanging on to get the biggest pension he can,because finding future employment is going to be difficult when any firm employing him will be forever tainted .

    Bringing back, tainted Lord peter was the final nail in his political coffin.but he probably had no choice but to get him on his side, otherwise he would have been deposed long before now.

  • Comment number 27.

    Plotters and quitters there may be aplenty, but fighters is another matter. The labour party is not noted for fighting, except when it is to put more cash in their own pockets. Gordon Brown isn't really the problem, the Labour party is the problem. It has, like Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan's governments neither the personnel nor the policies to govern this nation as it deserves.Like them it once again has brought the country to the verge of banktrupcy; there are 8 million people either unemployed or unwilling to work and what few jobs there are snapped up by a growing flood of immigrants from every corner of the globe. Along with those immigrants keen to find work, comes an increasing stream of criminals from all of the world's cesspits and this government sees this as desirable in the name of diversity. The way this government has surrendered Britain's sovereignty to the EU demonstrates the Labour parties fighting qualities,if there was a way to surrender every other part of Briish life , they would surely find it. They may fight to fill their pockets and survive in governmenrt but they most certainly would not fight for the freedom of the people of Britain.

  • Comment number 28.

    The first bullet point sub the fighters' point of view is either very superficial analysis or underscores the problems of the british electoral system.

    Superficial analysis because only 12 thousand out of 60 thousand voters, i.e. a mere 20% cast their vote for labour in Glasgow NE. Moreover, the 3,800 postal votes outstrip the number of votes for conservatives and lib dems added together. 4,000 newly registered voters seem to have accounted for 20% of cast votes. Hence it should not be assumed that the Glasgow NE result implies labour is on the rise again.

    Problems within the electoral system are pretty much highlighted by the numbers above. First-past-the-post has disenfranchised a large chunk of the electorate (a nice way of saying that there's no point to vote) and there are many opportunities for fraud.

    If you're slightly cynical (or worse, like me), Brown has indeed been very clever by expanding all the means-tested-benefits and public sector jobs. A lot of voters will not be the turkey that votes for christmas, which will make for a very strong barrier for the conservatives to gain seats in constituencies with plenty of public sector jobs and benefits receivers. Some constuencies are effectively bought.

    The upshot, for the labour fighters, is that a hung parliament indeed is possible.

    2010 will be the year of the postal vote - bbc, get your reporters on the job: keep tabs on postal voring.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick, the Labour Party could certainly do with you in their ranks!

    The Fighters will point to the facts you have presented and that the BBC believes they are in with a chance!

    You mentioned the recent Glasgow by-election and Labout getting almost 60% of the vote, but you failed to mention that it was the lowest turn-out in by-election history!

    I believe that Labour are too scared to make a move on Brown, just as they were too scared to stop him becoming Prime Minister. Better the devil you know!

    However, I believe that the election is not a foregone conclusion and the result will be a lot closer than many people think.

  • Comment number 30.

    If I was in the Labour camp, rather than being an ABL, then I would join the ranks of the plotters. The party is bigger than any one individual, and Brown has proven that he is an electoral liability.

    Trouble is, Labour have nobody with the track record and personality to make a positive difference.

    Their only hope is that the inbuilt bias against the Tories (27,600 voters needed on average per Labour seat, 45,000 per Tory seat) and the fact that Brown's mishandling of the economy despite his bluster ("Best placed to ride out the recession", when only us and Spain of the major EU countries are still in recession) means that the Tories have a hard time during their tenure, and Labour try for victory at the subsequent GE.

  • Comment number 31.


    Indeed. What private firm would dare to take on The Curse Of Jonah Brown?

  • Comment number 32.

    'Nothing can now stop a huge change in British politics.'

    Apart from the fact that there will be no huge change in British politics. Labour will splutter on until they run out of time or there is one more scandal that will be their final straw. David Cameron's ersatz New Labour Tories will be elected. After a couple of terms in power people will be so sick of the Tories someone else will get in etc. etc. ad nauseam.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is too late for Labour: if they think rearranging the deckchairs will stop the ship sinking then they are even more deluded than I thought. They are down to the hard-core support which is never enough even to survive in the average parliamentary constituency. The Glasgow by-election was in an exceptional constituency and as mentioned above Labour played hard-ball against the sitting Scots government.

    Also I do feel that the SNP are suffering from the the implosion of their economic policy at the time of the Credit Crunch. Would the Scottish people want to be so closely associated now with former tiger economies such as Iceland and the Irish Republic? Not so much tiger as pretty-icky kittens! Aaaaah!

    If Labour want a future then they have to focus on the general election after next. In many places they will have to rebuild their party from scratch.

    Cameron has not sealed the deal with the voters at all: if anything the voters are acting canny. We are going to get some strange results at the election with good candidates doing well, from whatever party, and ones who had stuffed themselves on the expenses gravy train losing out. It will not be a party based result.

    Sure, on balance the Conservative will win but what and by how much is another matter. This is not to say that Labour will not be annihilated across England and Wales but there are other players than the Tories; such as Plaid and the Lib-Dems among others. I think independents might do well also.

    The big determining factor in UK politics going forward is the economy. The frightening level of public debt, the continued bubble policies of the banks, the absence of real self-sustaining growth, the continued focus on consumption, the impoverishment of the younger generation and the list goes on. None of these issues are being faced by the political class who seem to be determined to ignore the realities of everyday life experienced by the people of this country.

    No the next election will not be about party: it will be a judgement on the Blair and Brown years. A judgement on wasted opportunities, wasted money, wasted lives and wasted integrity. It makes you angry to just think about it: which will be enough to send this government to oblivion.

  • Comment number 34.

    As a floating Voter with zero Party allegiance the problem for me and I suspect many is,

    I look at Brown and Nu Labour with both dismay and disgust, but when I look at the Tories I don't feel that much better. The Lib Dems seem to have the best ideas but are they little more than an irritating irrelevance?

    I expect to Vote Tory if only for the reason is NO matter how poor they may or may not be the Country can not afford to have this lot in for a moment longer than we have to.

    In all honesty I would be amazed if
    A/Brown actually fights the election, I don't think he has the courage I expect him to stand down early in the New Year for Health reasons, we are already getting leaked storys about his eyesight although he manages at PMQs perfectly well
    B/ Even if am wrong Brown will find some excuse NOT to have a Televised debate.

    The electorate are not that stuid we all Know we have pain to come for at least a decade and we ALL know who is to blame

  • Comment number 35.

    Ooops forgot to mention

    I would quit only an idiot fights a battle that can not be won.

  • Comment number 36.

    What about the 'Hypocritters'? They say:
    - Gordon Brown will lead us into the next election
    - I am fully behind Gordon Brown and have no leadership ambitions
    - Gordon is the best man for the job
    - Gordon saved the world
    - Is this a dagger that I see before me?

  • Comment number 37.

    >> Indeed. What private firm would dare to take on The Curse Of Jonah Brown?

    Cash4Gold? Crayola?

  • Comment number 38.

    DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:
    "The plotters can plot all they like, but without anyone willing to take the job, the plots will come to naught."

    Sounds about right.
    Who in their right mind would want to take over from Gordon at a time when the Labour party are facing their worst electoral defeat in years ?

    The Labour party are in the biggest mess they've been in since that fool Kinnock was their leader and whoever takes over from Gordon will probably suffer the same fate as him.

    The only thing that can save them now would be one of the Conservatives regular bouts of self-destruction as they fight over their future policies towards Europe.

    The really sad thing is that everyone seems to have forgotten just how bad the Conservatives were last time, just as in 1996/97 when everyone had forgotten how bad Labour had been previously.
    What is it about the British electorate that makes them think that the last lot of fools who made a mess of it previously are going to be any better this time around ?

    It doesn't matter if Labour or the Conservatives win, the British public always lose.

  • Comment number 39.

    It is interesting that Labour seemingly has already decided that the quitters have won, as it is quietly abandoning up to 60 of its most vulnerable seats, as it cannot afford to campaign effectively in them.

    Research also shows that previous Labour supporters will abandon Labour in favour of either the Tories, or far-right/ extremist parties:

    "Four groups have been identified as most likely to desert the party at the next election:

    • Thirtysomething homemakers who voted Labour in 1997 but are burdened with debt as they start a family — they may turn to the Conservatives;

    • low-skilled, largely unemployed households who will either not vote or turn to far-right parties;

    • those in former manufacturing communities who no longer have strong union and Labour Party ties — they are also vulnerable to extremist lobbying;

    • people approaching retirement in some of the nicer council estates who exercised the right to buy — they may also turn to the Conservatives.

    Such groups are found in many seats with majorities between 5,000 and 10,000, which Labour would need to retain to win the general election."

  • Comment number 40.

    This is certainly a challenging one from you today, Nick.

    Think I would probably have to be with the quitters. The reason being is that when the Conservatives get in, it's going to be a disaster that the non-aligned electorate will regret.

    To me, it seems obvious that David Cameron will have to shift his views right or he'll be out - they won't want him.

    The Conservative Party bankrollers and supportive media businesses aren't interested in a moderate party and neither are the grassroots. As regards the Conservatives, I think we should make the most of anything reflecting progressive politics now because it will soon be consigned to history.

  • Comment number 41.


    You forgot the realist's view

    Browm is a busted flush
    No one wants the job of leading Labour to defeat
    No one wants the job of leader of the opposition except Clegg
    The most they can hope for is a job in Lords if Labour ever get back in power
    They have year upon year of being taunted about what a mess they made of things when they were in power.

    Not much to look forward to eh Nick?

    By the way, what will you be doing for a job when the Tories run the BBC?

  • Comment number 42.

    A good point here Nick: "This week, Gordon Brown will try to rally them with what's being described as a "focused" Queen's Speech - focused on beating the Tories, that is."

    Exactly. Rather than setting out forthcoming government legislation, the 'Queen's Speech' is being used to test the water with a manifesto and "smoke out the Tories".

    LibDem leader Nick Clegg reckons the time could be better spent "cleaning up parliament".

    Isn't the Queen's Speech then just a party political broadcast to parliament at taxpayers' expense to shore up Brown's position and sway wavering voters?

  • Comment number 43.

    Just a brief point.

    "The Tories are struggling to stay above 40% in the polls, whereas in 1996 Labour was often above 50%"

    This isn't really accurate. In the 1997 election Labour got 43% of the vote compared to 31% for the Conservatives. It is pretty widely recognised that the polling agencies massively overestimated the Labour lead and have now changed their polling methodology so it wont happen again.

    If the current polling figures are close to being accurate, then the Conservative margin for vitory could be bigger than Labour's 1997 win.

  • Comment number 44.

    Which camp would I be in?

    The camp that advised Gordon Brown not to go jogging any more - in case he meets members of the public. We hate him and what he has done to this country.

  • Comment number 45.

    I wonder how many people would care about the Queen's speech if it wasn't broadcast on TV news ? It's yet another example of the tight-knit cabal of professional news people who set the media agenda being interested rather than the wider population. But I suppose that's true of most "news" that's beamed into our living rooms. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't see Brown wanting to fight the GE - unless the plotters start up again, I suspect he'll quit as Brown has never faced a proper election.

    He was parachuted into a safe seat, bullied his way to the position of PM and bottled out of an election he stood a good chance of winning. Brown prefers more Machiavellian methods than facing up to a challenge, witness his unseating of Blair and his use of the likes of McBride.

    If the plotters try to push him, he'll resist, but if they leave him be I suspect he'll depart in the New Year for 'medical reasons' or 'for the benefit of the party' or somesuch.

  • Comment number 47.

    The only chance Labour have is to use the tactics which are traditional in British politics - make the electorate so scared of what their opponents would do that they vote for the devil they know.

    The only things that really matter for voters in the soggy centre of British politics are things which effect their pockets. Social clumsiness and poor letter writing probably do not matter to much in the polling booth.

    The Tories have made a tactical mistake by talking up the need for cuts. Labour must make it very clear that under Labour the cuts would not fall on lower and middle income groups. The Chancellor could discover that in order to catch up with the recoveries in Europe and the US, he needs to match the fiscal stimuli that they have applied and actually cut lower and middle income taxes dramatically. To pay for this, unfortunately the new 50% rate on high incomes will not be enough, he will need to have an even higher rate for very high incomes, say 60%, on incomes over, say £200k, whether earned at home or abroad.

    The Tories will have to oppose this on behalf of their very wealthy supporters, and will not be able to explain how they could match labour increases for most people, allowing Labour to label them as the rich man's party.

  • Comment number 48.

    2 things

    a) Governments lose elections, oppositions do not win them - this one has well and truly lost it, but even that doesn't mean the tories will walk it, as there is the expenses scandal to consider.

    b) Its the economy stupid, and Brown cannot rescue it, he may fudge how bad it is, but if he were to scrape in with Lib-Dem help, within weeks we'd have round 2 as Labour would have to make cuts or let the IMF do it, whichever, the cuts would be so drastic as to spell the end of the Labour party in the UK for decades, as the current 'bought' votes of the Public Sector and Beneficiary class will get VERY angry when they lose the sinecures and money. I can honestly say I've never seen the economy in such a bad way.

  • Comment number 49.

    "The Chancellor could discover that in order to catch up with the recoveries in Europe and the US, he needs to match the fiscal stimuli that they have applied and actually cut lower and middle income taxes dramatically. To pay for this, unfortunately the new 50% rate on high incomes will not be enough, he will need to have an even higher rate for very high incomes, say 60%, on incomes over, say £200k, whether earned at home or abroad." Stanblogger

    And if the electorate fall for such guff, it shows how stupid they are.

    How many people actually earn over £200,000 in this country? Very few. If rates were increased as suggested it wouldn't raise much. If the tax was extended to include overseas in come (on non-doms) would they stay here? Of course not, they're here because we aren't taxing them at the moment on overseas income. If we increase their tax rate from 0% to 60% do you really thnk they will stay?

    So tax increases that raise little and drive away wealthy people are supposed to fund 'dramatic' tax cutes for the middle classes? As I say, if the electorate fall for that they deserve another 5 years of LAbour.

  • Comment number 50.

    The two main parties are really competing at the moment on how not to win the next election.

    After all Labour have geared up the economy to hold out until the election and the Tories know they will be left to clean up the aftermath if they are the main party.

    It gets increasingly likely that the best result on what would always be a temporary basis is for a hung parliament where the best of all parties would have to muck in to sort it all out.

  • Comment number 51.

    There's no doubt that Labour would improve their chances by replacing Brown with practically anyone else. However that would be letting labour off the hook. It is failed labour policies that have led the country to this awful position, not individual personalities.

    Labour are printing money like there's no tomorrow just to keep the economy on a life support machine long enough to fight the general election. By that time the incoming tory government will have no option but to make big cuts to get the defecit down so we don't lose our AAA credit rating.

    I for one cannot wait to see the back of this mendacious, vindictive, useless government. Brown is just the cheerleader.

  • Comment number 52.

    47. Stanblogger

    I would disagree that the Tories have made a tactical error discussing cuts. I would imagine that people on lower and middle class incomes can fully understand the need to cut back on spending when your outgoings are more than your income. The fact that the Tories (and the Lib Dems) actually admitted it suggested that they were aware of the problem.

    The problem with taxes on high earners is that apparently research has been done that shows that above a certain limit tax returns actually go down due to avoidance. So if that is true the Tories could point to it and use that as a defence for not using it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nick, the most interesting bit from your blog:

    "Others - the fighters - are beginning to hope that a recovery might just be possible. This week, Gordon Brown will try to rally them with what's being described as a "focused" Queen's Speech - focused on beating the Tories, that is. "

    How can the focus of the Government be on beating the Tories? Should it not be on fixing the economy, education, the nhs.......I could go on.

    Dont they understand that it is exactly this approach that makes us MAD. We have lent these jokers power to do our bidding and all they can do is abuse that and look to all they can to keep themselves in a job and damn the country.

    Nick - any party that takes that line should be crucified by you.

    If Brown the clown gets in again, you will see the exit of the private sector wealth creators dwarf anything in the past......could well be off myself, five more years of this and that will be the end of any hope we have of UK plc being recognisable to our children

  • Comment number 54.

    The problem for both parties is that neither wants to bring up the financial crisis because both parties and their leaders did nothing to prevent this even after being warned. So they will talk about recovery and jobs and Europe, etc, anything except for their part in creating the problem. If they are let off the hook, if the press doesn't ask these questions, and they won't, dont expect any change. The bankers own the MP's, bought and sold and the more they express displeasure at being identified as the prostitutes that they are the more true it all rings. The people don't matter, but the bankers do.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am firmly in the pessermistic camp. Brown is between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Whatever he does dooms him and his Party.

    On one hand if he goes now [I do not take the too late now view] if he goes for an interim election he will lose. On the other hand, if he is forced out, the electorate will not accept another unelected Prime Minister. Based on the 'no contest' just take over from Blair with no voting position.

    I do not accept a Tory Party will win regardless view. I believe that the Conservatives must work to win. So for that attitude, must Labour. It is probably propaganda from either side that it is a done deal and no effort is required. If both parties work hard, avoiding gifting a Hung Parliament, then it is in the lap of the gods. That is how it should be.

  • Comment number 56.

    Perhaps GB thinks appoloyising for the forced adoptions of the 1945-55 time frame is going to win him some votes.

    He should try an one of many that have been HIS fault over the last 12 years, one is the economy

    The other , given that this is the 20th anniversay of the chidren act for the force adoption that has occured on his and blairs what which was funded by much public money , ie from the bloggers on this blog.

    of which there have been many high profile campains.

    Know Nick that would be an idea for a blog. Right up your street very very political and given soon it will be the 4th annvi of the so called leo blair kidnap plot. See Mr Utterly's article on that. At the heart was the subversion of democracy

  • Comment number 57.

    G.Brown can not quit, we the voters were promised by labour at the last election that he G.Brown would stand as PM and Labour leader at the next (ie this comming) election.

  • Comment number 58.


    You made this a very personalised post, all focused on Brown.

    Your question should have read:
    "If you don't believe us, they say, try what I call the "cereal box test";
    that is: "Complete the following sentence: 'I want five more years of Gordon Brown as my prime minister OR NEW LABOUR AS MY GOVERNMENT, because...'"

    I do realise that Brown has become the issue. That's not unusual. Blair had been an issue. Major had been an issue. Thancher had been an issue.

    But, the question would be whether the electorate wants another 5 years of slick words, spin/re-spin/multiple-spin of "initiatives", appalling waste of public money, poor delivery of services, changes dressed up as "progress" and an economy that was getting out of hand even BEFORE the "Global Credit Crunch"...

    I'm not sure whether the Tories have the heavy hitters to get our country sorted out.

    But we have a bunch of light-weights in the cabinet anyway, so I doubt they'd do much worse.
    And the Tories would, at least, have no need to keep looking back over their shoulders, to "justify" where it all went so wrong over the last decade.... And why they have suddenly discovered how a country should be run.

  • Comment number 59.

    The most realistic camp of the 3 is the 'quitters'. Labour should be working out how few seats it may be left with after the election rather than will the Tories have an overall majority.

    Very many people, tired of politicians, have made up their minds in large part influenced by the performance of Gordon Brown in office. People are well aware of his role in presiding over the economic mess he has created - one aspect of which is that we are least able to recover quickly from recession. Families with teenage children will especially wonder if and when they will get work to match their skills and academic attainment.

    Labour is almost bankrupt so how is it to fight a general election at local level? The only factor that prevents wholesale slaughter of the Labour Party is that it needs many fewer votes than the Tories to retain seats in what has been its hinterland. But many formally safe seats are in danger of switching.

  • Comment number 60.

    RE: 47. stanblogger

    "The Tories have made a tactical mistake by talking up the need for cuts."

    So, facing facts is a "tactical mistake". If true, Britain's voters deserve what they will get.

    "Labour must make it very clear that under Labour the cuts would not fall on lower and middle income groups. The Chancellor could discover that in order to catch up with the recoveries in Europe and the US, he needs to match the fiscal stimuli that they have applied and actually cut lower and middle income taxes dramatically."

    You haven't a clue, have you?

    "To pay for this, unfortunately the new 50% rate on high incomes will not be enough, he will need to have an even higher rate for very high incomes, say 60%, on incomes over, say £200k, whether earned at home or abroad."

    Sigh. It's just arithmetic. Simple arithmetic. You don't need any fancy economics or econometrics or derivatives or any of that clever stuff - just simple arithmetic. Let me show you.

    Let's suppose someone earning £200,000 per year pays 40% tax on all of it. (They won't, thanks to allowances and accountants, so this is a slight over-estimate.) The tax take is then £80,000. Now lets assume your suggestion is implemented and the rate goes up to 60%. The tax take is then £120,000 - yielding an "extra" £40,000.

    The current government is borrowing around £180 billion per year. Let's suppose we only want your tax rise to pay for half of that - or just the £90,000,000,000. It would take 2,250,000 - that's 2 million, two hundred and fifty thousand such people to raise it. Are you really fantasising that the UK is home to more than 2 million people earning that much? And that's before we ask how many of them will hang around to watch a proven failure like Gordon Brown squander well over half their earnings on repaying the cost of his incompetence. Oh, and it's also before we pay for the "dramatic" tax cuts that you want for people on lower and middle incomes.

    "The Tories will have to oppose this on behalf of their very wealthy supporters, and will not be able to explain how they could match labour increases for most people, allowing Labour to label them as the rich man's party."

    No, the Tories won't have to oppose it at all. It is plainly insane. It is a good policy in one respect. It gives the voters a clear choice between a variety of parties that might have some good ideas and a New Labour party that openly advocates national suicide.

  • Comment number 61.

    An aside: Do I hear that Brown is to apologise to the poor English children who emigrated to Oz years ago?

    Let's hope he doesn't handwrite them a letter. ROFL.

  • Comment number 62.

    Its very odd, I was looking at the election material Labour put out for that weeks by-election, almost no mention of brown but lost of reasions to vote against the SNP!

    Having won the by-election Labour anounced that the win was a massive endorsment of Brown and his handling of the conutry thru the economic down turn.

    Just striked me as odd thats all

  • Comment number 63.

    The plotters are right. If somebody else were in the top job it would completely change the way I perceive Labour. The slate would be wiped be clean for the new broom, but they've got to get on and do it before it is too late.

    Gordon Brown is actually David Camerons best asset at the moment...

    So put somebody who's kept their nose clean into the top job, perhaps even a woman, and there's a real chance for Labour - electorally speaking.

  • Comment number 64.

    I want 5 more years of Brown as Prime minister because I want him to inherit the terrible mess he created. Why should somebody else clean behind this hopeless case. 5 more years of this useless administration should get rid of Labour forever. A small price to pay !!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I think it is most unlikely that in normal circumstances any party would or should win an election after 13 years in power. Things inevitably go wrong in government, and there is an accumulation of public anger and disillusion over time. There is a natural tendency for people to forget the achievements (of which there have been very many) and remember the failures. Moreover, I have always thought that it would be unhealthy for any party to be in power for too long; there is a lot to be said for the US system where Presidents can't have more than 2 terms, though of course it doesn't stop a particular party remaining in power.

    However, it seems to be the case that the public generally share my view and do not trust the Conservatives to provide a sound alternative government. Unlike 1997, everything is anti-Brown and not pro-Cameron, so it is really a bit more reminiscent of 1992 when Major was a laughing stock but Labour were not a credible alternative. The government front bench is certainly not as strong as it was under Blair, and Brown is nothing like as good a PM as was Blair; but compared to the opposition they are at least competetive, and probably considerably better.

    So while I think that Labour will lose, and that a change of government would not be an altogether unhealthy outcome, I would certainly fight.

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 thats an interesting word for it "emigrated"

    bit like blair promising a full term before he stood down.

  • Comment number 67.

    Sagamix, remember me? I used to have the screen name 'NoRashDecisions, but I recently changed it to this one. I remember one time a while ago I commented on this blog that I was 22, to which you responded, very kindly, that you thought it best for me not to participate in these discussions at my young age, because according to you the people who participate in these discussions are largely "wannabes and has-beens," or something to that affect. I then respectfully responded that I was thankful for your advice, but that as I am very much interested in the topics that are discussed here, I would continue to interact with my fellow political enthusiasts "across the pond" about the hot button issues of today's world.

    Which brings me to the following statement you made on the '"Gordon Brown and the Military" entry. Your post #16 then read as follows:

    "I'm of the opinion that our involvement in Afghanistan is a major mistake and I hope we can extricate ourselves before too long - the "blame" for us being there, however ... and this goes for Iraq too, even more so ... I have little hesitation in laying at the feet of Tony Blair - his was a personal, ego driven crusade to take us into these conflicts (in an unhealthy Slave to America type role)"

    Having come from one of the more intelligent, sane people n his log, I ust dmit hat I as ather aken ack by his tatement.

    As I'm sure you know from previous posts of mine, I was, and am, wholeheartedly aposed to our initial involvement in, and our continued involvement in Iraq. Sadam had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 (no matter how many times Dubya tryed to push that lie on the American people.) Since the UN inspectors didn't find any "WMDs," Iraq very well could have had them, and even may have hidden them upon learning that the UN was on its way to inspect the country. But even still, they were nwhere near the demolishable level that Bush/Blair dramatised them to be, and even if they were, we have a missal defense program, based in Colorado, that is capable of shooting down any missal directed at us within a few minutes of its launch. Even if I did support the invasion, I believe that Blair didn't stand up for his, and Britain's interests nearly as forcefully as he could/should have, and as such agree with you that he did in fact act slavishly toward Bush, who, lets be honest, is not the type of person who is too sensitive to the feelings of his fellow man on anything, especially when that thing runs the risk of impacting him negatively or making him look bad.

    But Afghanistan is where I part ways with you. I certainly believe that the way we innitially handled it was fraught with mistakes, and our little adventure into Iraq meant that we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, which is why we're fighting so hard now to make up the ground that we didn't have to lose in the first place had we simply decided not to invade Iraq. I also am fully aware of the troubles that your country had there in the past, not to mention the Soviets (although to be honest the only reason why the Soviets lost was because we were secretly funding and supplying the Afghani war effort back then,) and as such believe that now we should have a clear objective in Afghanistan, and a clear strategy for achieveing that objective. But I believe it was right to defend ourselves after 9/11. I believe that no country should allow itself to be attacked in this way and simply sit back and not retaliate against those who did it harm. I should think that most people would agree with this sentiment. And yet I shockingly find that you and many others who post on this cite think that Afghanistan was just as illegal and wrong as Iraq. Will you please explain why you hold this view? Thank you.

  • Comment number 68.

    Why do Conservative supporters extrapolate a 40% approval rating across the board to every seat? Election arithmetic is a little more complicated. As their support is more concentrated (i.e. in fewer seats), the Tories need much more than the current "approval rating" to win Government. The likelihood is a hung parliament at worst (or best) depending on your view.

    The view that Cameron has not "sealed the deal" with the voting public becomes very important in this scenario. Prime Minister Cameron currently is only the favoured wet dream of the Tory party.

    Cameron needs to discuss his philosophy/ideology and publish some credible policies. We are waiting Mr. Cameron.

  • Comment number 69.

    Brown just recently apologised for the migrant orphans, when is he going to apologise for condemning thousands to a life on welfare reliance, 2 million children currently grow up in a household where no one works. Is this a legacy Brown and nulabour are proud of? He should apologise for this terrible social engineering experiment.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nicholas @0

    "Which camp would you be in?"

    It depends on what the "fighters" are fighting for.
    If it's more of the same but with a different figurehead, then forget it. It's not worth it.
    If it's for a party that is able to deliver on worthy policies and projects and not line its own pockets while the poor get poorer and if a good education becomes a right, not a lottery, then there's something worth fighting for.

  • Comment number 71.

    I have a theory. See if you think this holds water.

    Gordon's already handed in his notice as PM and has just a couple of weeks left till he starts his new job at a call centre up in rural Scotland where he can happily engage in his true vocation - talking to people on the phone all day. He's got a bit of practice in lately!

  • Comment number 72.

    I want five more years of Gordon Brown as my prime minister because otherwise Lord Mandelson will become a Tory.

  • Comment number 73.

    67 PusuitofLove
    Hi Yank,
    A very interesting post. We are more or less singing together on Iraq.

    But on Afghanistan how sure are you that the 9/11 attack came from there ?

    As it is generally accepted that Osama Bin Laden had something to do with it why did the FBI allow a Saudi chartered jet to fly 2 dozen of his family out of the US and back to Saudi right after 9/11 ?

    How many years have "we" been there with all the up to date equipment, armour , artillery, air support etc when all they have is 4 x 4 pick ups, AK47s and a few primitive mortars? I dont think its anything to do with military might, many a tank has been knocked out by a bottle of petrol with a rag fuse, its all about the passion of fighting an invader that keeps them going. Wouldnt you ?

  • Comment number 74.

    Of course there is a third way, which goes something like this;

    Keep the brownites tied to the wheel so that when they lose they can take full responsibility for their cockup. They made the mess by undermining Blair, they can face the consequences. At the same time work hard for a victory in the hope that it is close, so that when Brown is got rid of so can some of his acolytes.

    The worst case scenario for them is a slim labour majority.

    However I think he will be a very successful opposition leader if he does not walk away. - it is so much easier to stand on the sidelines and moan and he has done this successfully for quite a while.

    Finally I don't think the plotters will move because it looks like things are turning and will be a lot closer than current polls predict.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's hard to work out whether Nick's posts are intended to dissuade people to respond. Strange that, after a few days of nothing to respond to, the uptake is so limited.

    Are people just getting too fed up with a narrow focus on the "personalities" and Westminster Village garbage and wanting a bit more depth from the "political editor"?

    It's obvious that Brown surfed a relatively benign economic climate, while massaging City egos and stuffing up the UK's economic spread, but created a growing gap between tax income and government spend. That was happening before the "Global Credit Crunch, started in the USA"...

    I simply can't believe that this excuse for a government can continue in power.

    You could get a few meerkats to do a better job. At least they would be cute to look at (until you understand that they are really aggressive when supporting their own - something that Brown seems to have taken on board).

  • Comment number 76.

    The Electoral maths has to be a strong factor in any response to Nick's challenge. No party in "ordinary times" (ie not National Govt or post-War) has gained the swing necessary to give the Tories a majority of 1 far less a good majority with which to face the horrendous challenges of the coming years (war, debt, sluggish economy, debt, aging populations, debt...did I mention debt?). The plotters must hope that a change of leader will change the media narrative for a sufficient time to allow a honeymoon surge in the polls (Labour have gained 4% according to today's ICM Poll - 42/29/19 - and a further 5% for Labour - taken from the Tories - makes them largest party in a new Parliament: 37/34/19 giving them 304 as opposed to the Tories 269). That is not such an likely situation. Even though I would strongly want to see the back of Mr Brown and his government I cannot just wish it so and ignore the electoral maths.

  • Comment number 77.

    75. fairlyopenmind

    Aleksandr for PM.

  • Comment number 78.

    Not as many posts as we usually get whenever Brown is mentioned. Maybe because we now have 1 membership to 1 email address. Its also a bit of a strange subject to bring out of the blue. Are Rory Cellan-Jones and Robinson who famously don't like reading their comments Working together.

  • Comment number 79.

    Despite all the obvious shortcomings of the Tory opposition, the simple fact is that they are different. Labour cannot, after so many years in office, reverse or undo decisions and ideologies. They are too proud.

    We just must, absolutely must have a fresh set of people running the country. The two main parties are not *that* different after all, but the Tory party are the only ones who are able to make the extremely painful decisions needed over the next 10 years.

  • Comment number 80.

    Brown's premiership has had a litany of "full metal bullet's" fired at it! from Blue tongue, to terrorist attacks and a world wide recession right through to MP's expenses scandal.

    So does he have what it takes to govern Britain? well never before in the history of prime ministers has one prime minister had to endure so much.

    Do you really want a young Cameron at the helm? a light weight with a walk on by attitude. ??????

  • Comment number 81.

    76 Harrowingdunn

    Thank you very much.
    What do I do now ?
    A deep depression or an alcoholic fueled consolation session ?

  • Comment number 82.

    pursuit of love @ 67

    hi there, yes I remember - congratulations on the new name, hope you catch it! - and you're quite right to draw a distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan; the Afghan invasion was launched in the aftermath of 9/11 (wasn't it?) and one can understand the reasons for it - having said that, I think it was (and is) wrong - not as clearly wrong as Iraq (doh) but still wrong ... the thing is, I don't view the terrorism in New York in Sept 2001 as being an act of war (a Pearl Harbour type incident) I more see it as a crime and those who perpetrated it as criminals

  • Comment number 83.

    80 derekbarker

    I note you use the word "endure" not the words; deal with.

    Had he done the latter, well ........... who knows ?

  • Comment number 84.

    One other point you should also note Nick, is that many Con voters will switch to UKIP, as Camron is to spinless and we need someone who is going to make tough decisions instead of pandering to the media and left.
    He is also generally untrusted by the public. so there could well be a hung parliament, and then both He and Brown should both step down and let the fight begin.

  • Comment number 85.

    #83 xTunbridge

    Yip! most people endure and endeavour, for 11years most of the British public were satisfied, the man who packed beans on a super market shelve was just as likely to own his home as the local GP.

    All areas of public sector life had unprecedented levels of success and not many complained.

    Complaining is becoming a designer label!

    Universally! great assets only come from collective progressive means.

    Why cant we accept that?.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Which camp would you be in?"

    If I were a labour MP, I'd be in the quitters' camp. Fighting an election when virtually everyone who's not a union member or unemployed despises everything I've done/said for the last 13 years would be soul destroying. I don't think labour MPs actually understand just how hated they are though; they still don't "get" how they've collectively destroyed the whole country.

    But, as I'm not a labour MP, I'd be in the "I'd rather have rusty skewers inserted into my eyes than stay in a country which re-elects the labour party again" camp.

    If they get in again, I'm off like a shot before sterling drops so low that the pound in my pocket becomes totally worthless and I can't buy a plane ticket, as will everyone else who can work at home using the internet. In fact I'm toying with the idea of holding some money offshore temporarily in usd to cater for exactly this problem.

    If labour won again, the consequences would make the current economic situation look like a tiny un-noticeable blip.

    They've got 25% of the vote according to the latest poll? Well, I'm guessing that 25% of the vote equates almost exactly to the percentage who are union members or unemployed; so that means that virtually everyone in the private sector will vote against them. Doesn't that tell you something, Nick? Remember, there's no such thing as "government money" - it all comes from the private sector. When the entire private sector rejects a government then that government needs to just call an election and then walk away (but not before saying that they're sorry for destroying the whole country)

  • Comment number 87.

    "So does he have what it takes to govern Britain? well never before in the history of prime ministers has one prime minister had to endure so much."

    Never before in the history of Prime Ministers, have we had one who has had a reverse midas touch in that everything he touches turns to effluent.

    Having the skin of a rhino is in itself, not enough of a qualification for the post.

  • Comment number 88.


    Here here!

  • Comment number 89.

    I'll make a small wager with anyone.

    The BBC will really go to town with the Queens speech, run with it in all the news channels, Newsnight and probably 'This Week' as well as on the Sunday following - all with positive spin on it.

  • Comment number 90.

    Lets leave the plotters to the "Guy Fawkes" person

    Lets leave the quitters to the greedy expenses MP's

    Lets leave the fighters to the boxing ring.

    And lets decide when the election come's to support the best policies! that will serve the majority of Britons best.

  • Comment number 91.


    You could be on.... interesting ground here Saga.

    Whilst the British legal position historically on the IRA, certainly in the 70's and 80's was that they were criminals and not politicals (in attempt to deny their cause any of the legitimacy that goes with the rules of war, although to be honest it was probably a lot more complex than that), 9/11.... well... the IRA nearly always attempted to give some sort of warning and didnt slaughter completely 3500 people in one go on the basis of someone elses conflict.

    Much as the strategy in Afghanistan has been highly questionable, I cannot blame ordinary Americans for what they felt after that day. It might not be the done thing to want revenge, but hell, had I been in the shoes of any of the bereaved... And although I cant speak for you, had it happened to you mate, I think that regardless of how you come across on here, that would be a really hard job turning the other cheek.

    9/11 does have a parallel with Pearl Harbour in that it was a failure of the intelligence services. There were more than enough warning signs - the security cheif for the WTC who lost his life on the day was ex-FBI and had warned many times of the plot and was repeatedly told that he didnt have enough evidence, which led to his resignation and as fate would have it, his death.

    The intention, to try and finish Al Qaeda was honorable. The prosecution of that objective, politically and militarily, has been lamentable from the start. And its not just GWB and TB. Its been a failure of the UN and NATO as well. A lamentable lack of international leadership.

  • Comment number 92.



    "Universally! great assets only come from collective progressive means"

    Like what?

  • Comment number 93.

    Fubar it's easy to complain! it's simple to have a go.

    Come on! what type of Britain will the conservatives give us, what type of leadership qualities will Cameron bring to Britain and how will it improve the nations lot?.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Labour have gained 4% according to today's ICM Poll - 42/29/19 - and a further 5% for Labour - taken from the Tories - makes them largest party in a new Parliament: 37/34/19 giving them 304 as opposed to the Tories 269). "

    For Labour to poll an additional 5% it means that 20% more people must support the Labour Party than already do so. Can they increase their voting by such an amount?

    The 42:29:19 is still a 13% lead for the Tories - predicting an overall majority of 70.

    From May 2005 there has been a steady decline in Labour Support from 40% to 27% - the two peaks (The Brown Bounce when he had a good summer in 2007 after taking over from Tony Blair - if you remember foot and mouth, Glasgow bombings and the financial crisis late last year (Where the argument was: we must do something - this is something therefore we must do it) being the only exceptions.

    The recent recovery (from 20% to 29%) is a rebound from the expenses debacle in May and the Tories recovered from 30% to 42% over the same period - i.e. both votes have gone up by about 40%.

    And remember the Golden rule of opinion polls: always assume Labour will poll the lowest percentage obtained.

  • Comment number 95.

    80 Derek

    For GB it does have to be a case of ... be careful what you wish for.

    Conversely it is an interesting point, how much Freakenomics or Easy jet local services might help David Cameron if he is in power. And to what extent the BBC will survive with the Tories - Jeremy 'Ben Swain' Hunt as culture secretary carrying out the dictat of News international.

    Most interesting is the idea that they are going to cut hard in our current position or that getting out of Europe is a viable option.

    What I don't understand is why, when most of the local authorities in England are run by the tories (and are almost universally unpopular), can newlabour make no traction on this?

  • Comment number 96.

    I feel sorry for all you English despairing of Brown and knowing Cameron is an empty shell - Leave bankrupt and corrupt Westminster to its own devices and come on up here to Scotland, all of you, vote SNP and live in an independent Scotland without Trident ( though the SNP might be advised to keep Trident to deter a neighbouring country from invading to secure scarce oil resources) and useless aircraft carriers, where we don't fight illegal and unwinnable wars, have no problems with the BNP and think that Europe really isn't such a bad place to be friends with. It's beautiful up here where we have a perfectly good alternative to Conlab and confused Libdems

  • Comment number 97.

    fubar @ 91

    well I didn't so much mean turn the other cheek; you try and catch criminals, don't you? - as regards invading other countries, however, I'd be looking for either (1) a self defence or (2) an obvious and compelling humanitarian justification ... not sure this ticks either box

  • Comment number 98.

    Re Pursuitoflove #67

    I am afraid I disagree with your assessment of Iraq. While I believe the reasons given for the invasion were somewhat suspect, the intelligence agencies of a number of countries did believe that that wmds' did exist. But I believe that the west owed the Iraqis' after the first gulf war. When the UN stopped the coalition advancing after retaking Kuwait, the west encouraged the marsh Arabs to rise up against Saddam and the west would support them. They responded to this encouragement and were slaughtered by Saddam's forces while the west turned its back. This is one of the reasons why the British forces received such a hostile response from the people in Southern Iraq.

    Afghanistan is another matter. The west knew of the terrorist training facilities in Afghanistan and attacked one facility with a cruise missile after the attack on the USS Vincennes in Aden. The problem with the Afghanistan at the moment is that a true plan of eradication of the terrorists and their supporters (the Taliban); and social and economic reconstruction has been disjointed and accordingly poorly carried out. Until security and economic reconstruction are joined, Afghanistan will continue to be a political wasteland.

    As for Brown and the future. I think the polls will show a distinct increase for the Tories once the policies are laid out for all to see and even more so if Liebour have to be honest about the state of the economy and the states finances. It is funny, in Australia they are horrified at a state debt of 60 billion dollars (£40 bil pounds). A trillion £££ is just eye watering!!

  • Comment number 99.


    Del, you're obsessed with the tories. You're talking like the tories have got it in the bag.

    They havent. Not by a long shot.

    Instead of telling me how crap they are, why dont you tell me how Brown and his successors are going to put things right in a proper, effective and affordable way?

    I mean lets face it... How many salesmen have ever become successful solely off the back of telling their customers how crap their rivals are and not how good their own product is?

  • Comment number 100.

    XTunbridge #73. . .

    Hello. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I am always interested to learn of other's opinions of my input on topics. Although I ask you, to in the future please don't call me, or refer to me as a "yank." I know you didn't mean to offend me, and I'm certain that the majority of Americans don't care one way or the other, but its just that every time I've heard that word be used to refer to Americans, it has always been with a negative connotation attached. (I.E. '"Pushy yanks. Always showing up late for every war, overpayed, over sexed, and over here." So if you could please refer to me as an American I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    Regarding your post. You ask '"But on Afghanistan how sure are you that the 9/11 attack came from there ?"

    Very. Yes its true that (I believe) all but one of the 20 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia (and while we're on the subject of Saudi Arabia, let me just say that I deplore our policy of turning a blind eye to its grose human rights abuses etc simply in order to get its oil,) but they largely trained in Afghanistan. Note I said "largely." I know that at least 4 of them went to Florida to take pilot lessons. How our intelligence comunity didn't spot all the clues leading to 9/11 and connect the dots I'll never understand!! But that's an entirely different can of worms. I believe it was right post 9/11 for us (my country) to attack Afghanistan, if for no other reason than to destroy the terrorist training camps used to plot the attacks. As I said in my post #67, I believe that the innitial way in which we went into Afghanistan was fraught with mistakes, and that our war with Iraq did untold damage to our effort in Afghanistan, but that does not change my belief that we were fully within our rights to make some kind of move in Afghanistan to demonstrate that it is not OK to attack us on that grand of a scale and expect nothing in return. I would have believed this had any nation been attacked. Western or eastern. Northern or southern.

    You imply that I'm worried about our military competency, when in fact I made no such elusion. If you re-read my earlier post, you'll see that I acknowledged the past failures of both your country and the Soviets, and that as such, expressed a desire for us to in order to avoid a repeat of them, have a clear objective, and a clear strategy for achieveing that objective, so that we can get out of there quickly with as few lives lost (both ours and Afghanis) as possible. I expressed no such interest, and nor does my government, in staying there indefinitely. Of course I wouldn't like it if a foreign power occupyed the US! Who would? But I'm sorry, I'm not too keen on running the risk of experiencing another such terrorist attack if possible, so I believe it necessary for us to help ensure that the conditions are created so that people aren't atracted to the terrorist's lifestyle. Whether that be in eleviating poverty, combating climate change, and, yes, destroying terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.


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