Britain, gordon brown, Labour Party, Politics

Kelly or Smith for Labour Leader?

Its football teams having all failed to qualify for the European Championships, Britain’s national sport for the next few weeks will be to name Brown’s challenger and/or successor.

A reasonable way of going about finding that brave Labour MP is to identify those cabinet ministers whose seat is most in danger.

The most marginal seat held by a cabinet minister is Bolton West – Ruth Kelly’s majority is only 2,064 (5.1%).

Jacqui Smith’s position isn’t much better: her majority in Redditch is just 2,716 (6.7 %). Both are going to be wiped out if something big does NOT happen between now and the spring of 2010.

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Britain, gordon brown, Politics, Scotland

missing links

I had missed this further twist in the Scottish independence referendum saga (hatip: Scottish Sketch). So Wendy stole Gordon’s idea, then. Thereby compromising the idea – and their relationship – alltogether. At a different time, the whole story would have also compromised their reputation and credibility, but it’s far too late for that now.

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Britain, gordon brown, Labour Party, Politics

Is there still something that would make Labour rid itself of Gordon?

Mike Smithson asks an interesting and legitimate question: what kind of result today in Crewe would mean that Gordon Brown will not lead Labour into the next general election?

What about coming more than twenty percentage points behind the Conservatives or coming third behind the LibDems? Can Brown really survive either or both these humiliations? No, but then again neither scenario is likely. Much more likely that Labour contain their defeat within single digits, and that the LibDems suffer the kind of squeeze suggested in recent polling.

In a way that’s Labour’s problem: having already installed a Leader and a PM without voting, they need a really loud and clear excuse for doing it again. The near certainty of losing the next general election would be one such excuse, but the public doesn’t really think that far in advance. So that doesn’t seem to be big enough. Boris Johnson was a loud enough excuse alright, but Labour did its best to downplay it, and they seem to have convinced themselves that they can live with that.

So now they have set the bar real high for the kind of circumstances that will justify ousting their leader: certain defeat won’t do; Boris won’t do; what must happen so that Labour find the courage to help themselves?

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Britain, gordon brown, Labour Party, Politics, Scotland

Brown’s strategy will backfire both north and south of the border

You don’t need a nostalgic Blairite to waste his precious time convincing you that Gordon Brown is a poor political strategist: you already know that all too well. So it’s no surprise that Mr. Brown is getting his strategy for the next election completely wrong. Roughly, this is what Brown and whoever advices him are thinking: we’ve got a Scottish problem. If the English electorate perceives us as too Scottish, we really have no chance at the next general elections against two candidates, Cameron and Clegg, who are quintessentially English. So what we are going to do is making sure that the English public can’t say that we are being partial to Scotland. That will also suit the purpose of giving Salmond a very bumpy ride; so that whenever we decide to call the next general elections – because it’s we who call the shots – we’ll get respect from the English for not having given in to our Scottish roots; and also Scottish Labour will be stronger against the SNP just in virtue of the fact that we have made it so difficult for the SNP to govern, thanks to a – relatively to the past – underfunded Scotland.
That sounds, if not clever, at least reasonable. And it explains, along with many other things, the anti-Scotch budget; and the recent unsuccessful trip to Westminster by John Swinney, Scotland’s Finance Secretary. Problem is, Gordon Brown’s strategy is going to backfire. Here’s why: the Scots are going to be particularly outraged by a Scottish Prime Minister who appears to be particularly tough on them of all people. That will inevitably result in a perception of the SNP as the only party standing for Scotland – as was more than obvious over the budget, when Scottish Labour MPs had to go on telly defending anti-scottish legislation: Salmond knows how to play that card; has played it ever since the beginning of his time in office; and Brown is being thick enough to continue playing in Salmond’s hands. This could ultimately result in the SNP being a serious player in the next general elections: it is estimated that, with the present level of support, the SNP could get as many as 30 Westminster parliamentary seats next time around – which could prove decisive in case of a hung parliament (and, needless to say, it’s not with Labour that the SNP would strike a deal).
But Brown’s strategy might backfire in England as much as in Scotland. His thinking is that by being tough on Scotland he’s going to prove to the English that he would do their interest, and never put Scotland’s interest ahead of the interests’ of the majority. Fair enough: problem is that if Brown alienates the Scots, he offers the Conservatives a brilliant argument against him. Cameron can then tell the English: here’s a Scottish politician loathed by his own people; why should we English trust him?

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Britain, donations row, donorgate, gordon brown, Politics

“tirarsi la zappa sui piedi”

The Government has managed to free the teacher jailed in Sudan for reasons too pathetic to deserve a mention on this blog. This must, in itself, be considered a success. Unfortunately for Brown, though, the speedy resolution of this crisis means everyone’s attention cannot be anywhere else than on Donorgate. Brown, I have always thought so, is way too good (morally, that is – only morally) to be PM.

p.s. the title is an italian proverb which best describes how Brown has not helped himself by successfully freeing the teacher.

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Britain, Chris Leslie, David Abrahams, donations row, gordon brown, Labour Party, Mrs Kidd, Politics

It really takes guts to be Chris Leslie

This is yeasterday’s statement by Chris Leslie, who was Brown’s campaign manager:

“In late May I received a phone call from a man calling himself David Abrahams referring me to a woman called Janet Kidd who said that she wanted to be a donor to the campaign. I did not know who Mr Abrahams or Mrs Kidd were. I contacted Mrs Kidd, and unprompted, she sent a cheque for £5,000.” (*)

So, says Leslie, he got in touch with Mrs Kidd about making a donation, and then Mrs Kidd made a donation, unprompted. Unbelievable! And fuckin disrespectful of anybody, anybody who’ll have read the statement.

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