Labour contemplates the end of Brown

The result of the London Mayoral and local elections in England and Wales have left Labour in disarray. A poll in Times of London this morning does not lend the British Prime Minister much support, and suggests that more than half of all Labour voters want him to leave office now. Over on Brassneck, I’ve argued that whatever happens it look ominously like the beginning of the end for Labour in government. I suspect the NI Tories are enjoying it all… Jenny suggests we keep an eye on BozzaWatch


  • Mick

    You are far to old of a hand to take any poll so close to the local elections seriously. Of all the current crop of New labour politicians Gordon Brown is a cart horse, he will be around for the next two years, if not the NLP youngsters will be aping the Tory party’s recent history and be committing political suicide.

    One swallow does not make a summer, a new US president may reinvigorate the worlds economy, Johnson will fuck up, Brown will withdraw troops from iraq, then all is to play for.

    Stop wetting the Barclay brothers pants. 😉

  • I’ve argued that whatever happens it look ominously like the beginning of the end for Labour in government…

    Memo to Fealty:

    1. The Polls, not excluding the famed YouGov Wot Won It for Boris, have been all over the place in recent months. As a result, one at least had to be within an unstated margin of error. As far as I recall, Populus didn’t have a steady contract in the London Blutfest (and they only do it for the money, you know), so we can’t gauge their recent record.

    Apart from that, as my dear old Dad would have said, “Ask a daft question, you deserve a daft answer.” Since the Times commissioned the Poll, presumably it tailored its questions to a previous agenda. Now, do we need a clairvoyant to help us with what the Murdoch media line might be here?

    Then Riddell (with Webster feeding the Lewis-gun) could blast away at their pre-ordained targets. Example? — explain in simple terms what is meant in real money by:

    Mr Brown’s leader rating (on a 0 to 10 scale) had dropped sharply from 4.50 to 4.08 in a month — well below the other leaders.

    Dontcha just lurve them decimals? Us epsilon semi-morons are reely, reely impressed wiv um.

    Now, let’s take Populus on its own figures:

    Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,509 individuals

    29% of the sample declared for Labour, so we are talking about 437.61 bods (don’t forget how vital those double-decimal points are!)

    Of those 437.61 Labour voters, 55% think “Gordon Brown should step down”. So we have the considered views of 240.6855 Labour voters disaffected with their Leader. I have to say, after half-a-century, man and boy, in the People’s Party, I reckon that’s a flattering outcome for any Leader.

    So, if (say) 10 change their minds before the next survey, what will Mr Brown’s leader rating be? Come on, boy, you should able to do that in your head!

    2. As for these grand predictions of political doom, let me refer you to your own Telegraph archive. Start with Saturday, 10 October, 1959, when you will find the first leader quelling the fears of the huddled masses of Tonbridge and Surbiton: Labour was finished “for a generation.” Similar prophecies, using very similar phrasing, exist for the weekends of 2-3 April 1966, 13-14 June 1987, 3-4 May 1977, 9-10 June 2001 …

    Of course, you may be correct. Even journalists must hit the spot once in a while.

    So, I gently suggest you take a stiff drink, lie down in a darkened room, and concentrate on re-arranging the following into a well-known saying:

    long in a week politics a time is.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    I think that the result of the next election will be decided by the media, is any thing new in that?

    The media including Murdoch seem to have decided that Brown is a loser and they will slowly destroy him over the next 12 months with a continual drip of incompetence, dithering and failure. The parallels with the treatment of Major and his terminal government are already there to see and we know what happened then.

    Therefore I do not think that there will be a Labour Government after the next election and for all those wishful thinkers about Boris, give up, he will not drop any massive clangers and will probably prove to be a success as he is already being surrounded by an able team. Admittedly he he does need them.

  • I hope Mick Hall is right but I fear he may not be.

  • kensei

    The media including Murdoch seem to have decided that Brown is a loser and they will slowly destroy him over the next 12 months with a continual drip of incompetence, dithering and failure

    I particularly love “dithering”. When he was Chancellor, the same traits were “prudence”. It’s all in the spin, really.

    Still, I reckon Labour are toast. It isn’t really Brown that has done for them, it’s what almost always does for Governments: Events. If the economy and house prices were racing along as they were the past few years, Brown would weather the storm even if he handled it poorly. But with house prices finally popping and the cost of living shooting up, the charges tend to stick more.

  • dewi

    Just bought Bower’s Brown biography…..for two quid – he’s screwed.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    I paid more at lot more, but Brown has serious problems even if the book is only 10% accurate.

    The portayal is frightening!

  • The essential case was made in the Economist‘s editorial today:

    Britain is not being overtly misgoverned, and nobody else in Labour is promising anything radically different. And Mr Brown may yet improve. To do so, he needs to articulate his basic political creed—essentially a meritocracy leavened with egalitarianism—better than he has managed to do so far. And, from this newspaper’s point of view, he needs to commit unequivocally to the course of public-service reform eventually set by Mr Blair, then pursue it with dogged competence.

    If he does this, especially if the economy recovers, he will have a chance against the Tories. Otherwise, he will go down in history as the worst sort of political failure: the sort who schemes to get a job and then has no idea what to do with it.

    To which, of course, should be added that the Cameroonies are hardly “promising anything radically different” (as the Economist makes painfully clear in a different article).

    Be honest: if the UK economy is terminally flushed down the pan (and there’s no evidence of that catastrophe), your doomsday stuff is validated. Then it’s pick up the pieces time.

    But where’s the “leadership” and vision evident in the Opposition Parties (possible caveat over Vince Cable)? Don’t bet the farm on “Dave”. As soon as the odd poll-percentages swing even a few points in the other direction (and they will, they will), he’s got a lot of “friends” further out on the Right ready to skewer him — read the runes in the likes of ConservativeHome.

    So —

    If HMS UK plc is afloat in two years’ time, despite the crash of emerging-economies collapsing because they cannot cope with rising energy costs and food riots …

    Whether there is or is not a major terrorist atrocity (which plays either way to the Government’s advantage, surely) in the UK, or close enough to home to hurt …

    If the nay-sayers and distraught estate agents cannot maintain their Chicken Little hysteria over house-prices ( a shocking — oh! shocking! — 1% down over twelve months, after a run of 133 consecutive monthly increases!) …

    If the Government does the usual, by stuffing wallets in the last months before an Election (which can be done by easing taxation, allowing wage inflation, freeing up credit) …

    If the job market holds up …

    If blasted Boris or another of the Tory nomenklatura (and there’s some slimy toads in there, with proven track records) fouls up …

    … I reckon a fourth Labour term is not impossible.

    And …

    … when I survey each and every one of those “ifs”, I also reckon in each item the odds are on Labour’s side.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    M Red.

    Wishful rose tinted thinking ………remember the media…..they have it in for Brown….and rightly so when you read the book mentioned above.

  • Frustrated Democrat @ 09:42 AM:

    Of course it’s “wishful thinking”. But from where I stand, what else should I “wish” for?

    Your other point is my constant theme.

    British politics is now small-time stuff. It’s really little more than the equivalent of paying the mortgage, keeping the grass mown, putting out the garbage, stocking the fridge. No change of Government, as the current Economist makes clear, is going to involve an oil-tanker’s change of course.

    As Harold Macmillan (whom I now adopt as the motif for this post, if only to give a veneer of style) said:

    Britain’s most useful role is somewhere between bee and dinosaur.

    Notice how, in every significant issue, the Cameroonie approach has been to concur, dither, and then deny. As with Northern Rock, detention orders, 10p tax rates … we have Opposition per se and not through principle. Macmillan again:

    As usual the Liberals [read: Tories] offer a mixture of sound and original ideas. Unfortunately none of the sound ideas is original and none of the original ideas is sound.

    So that leaves me with two thoughts.

    One is, as you say, that it’s all soap opera, pap for the people, dressed up by the Media as something it is not. And the Media need a constantly moving, if cyclically repetitive, plot, with regular changes in the cast-list. Cameron and Boris merely have to follow the script to please the critics: as for them, Gordon Brown is entitled to share Macmillan’s:

    I was determined that no British government should be brought down by the action of two tarts.

    Just like the evening soaps, and with the same long-term significance. When was the last time a British soap opera or British politics managed a “water-cooler moment”? Meanwhile, follow Macmillan’s axiom:

    It is the duty of Her Majesty’s government neither to flap nor to falter.

    Beyond that, as the second factor, there is Macmillan’s:

    “Events, dear boy.”

    Consider the PR and opinion poll standings of Thatcher over the 74 days of the Falklands campaign: from zeroine to heroine at the cost of 904 lives. Or, more recently, the sudden elevation of non-entities like President Dubya and Hizoner Rudi in the autumn of 2001: and what became of either one of them in the longer term?

    Twenty-point swings in opinion polls, over a month or two, are unsustainable and ludicrous, unless they have been stage-managed for a quick sugar-rush (as with the statutory soap-opera wedding and death). Opinion polls are not news: they do not come as Zeus’s thunderbolt from the blue. They are programmed and scheduled: the contract specifies the form of question to be asked, which defines the outcome. When the Murdoch Press hires a pollster, it can predict the desired result: otherwise the poll appears on page 6.

    So, what would Macmillan’s advice be to the like of the self-basting Cameron? Probably something like his best-ever:

    It has been said that there is no fool like an old fool, except a young fool. But the young fool has first to grow up to be an old fool to realize what a damn fool he was when he was a young fool.

  • Dewi

    Always admire your posts Malcolm but this is truly a belief in the victory of hope over reality.
    In the real world he’s the subject of mockery. That Mr Bean jibe was so good cos it had that essential element of truth.
    The Scottish stuff just so absurd and bizarre.

  • So, Dewi @ 02:23 PM, having agreed with me that it’s all fantasy and froth:

    You sit and see,
    Minding true things by what their mockeries be.

    [Henry V, IV Prol: that is followed by Agincourt, as you remember.]

    I, however, would rather take my ideology or world-view from Rowan Williams than Rowan Atkinson. I genuinely admire what Brown has consistently said and done in the interest of poverty here and around the world, not least in Africa. It makes a precise comparison with Cameron’s gesture politics in his Rwanda day-trip.

    On that note I invite you to address yourself to the “real world” and “reality”. Tell us precisely what, after a year or so of Prime Minister Cameron, would be different. Else you are agreeing with that “Bagehot” column in the Economist, of which I seem to be the solitary reader, despite it being free and on-line:

    There is still quite a lot in Mr Cameron’s platform—Euroscepticism and support for marriage through the tax system, for example—that is viscerally Tory. There is quite a lot about it that remains opaque. But it is striking that the main arithmetical conundrum Mr Cameron needs to explain is where he will find the money to fund his various spending pledges, rather than which public services he will slash to finance putative tax cuts. “The next election”, says one frank senior Conservative, “will be won by whoever is most New Labour.”

    As for “The Scottish stuff”, do you mean the liquid, the Play or, what I have discussed elsewhere — merely the fact that what Brown said in Wednesday’s PMQ’s was factual and accurate, while Cameron was wind and … whatever?

  • Dewi

    Malcolm – I get the Economist mun – its me and thee in the world….Rowan Williams on the same downward slide as Gordon IMHO…..Read all the stuff and disagree – Brown is flawed and mad…but there we go!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “I particularly love “dithering”. When he was Chancellor, the same traits were “prudence”. It’s all in the spin, really. ”

    It is a matter of leadership and the perception of leadership. When making a buying decision, a small amout of “analysis paralysis” can be laudable. In a CEO, however, the same appearance looks more like indecision.

    T’is the difference between a bureaucrat and an executive.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    The problem is that NuLab have been persuing a rather neo-Thatcherite agenda with privatisations, lax regulation of the financial sector and PFIs so if the Tories get in what will we get as an ‘alternative’? Privatisations, lax regulation, PFIs… The economic boom was built on debt and as such has come crashing down around Brown. To mitigate the consequences of this we do not want the Tories, nor do we want New Labour. Hopefully those in the Labour Party with a bit of sense will wake up and realise that the NuLab coalition has been shattered and a new more progressive coalition has to be built.

  • Dewi

    I think Gordon needs medical help. When I was active (Hmmm) I always remember Dafydd Wigley saying that the most important thing was getting sleep at night. The word from London is that Brown is sleeping 2 hours a night. Dangerous – as his recent behaviour indicates. His finger is on the button by the way.