The picture looks ominous for Gordon Brown. The two opposition leaders together flanking the victorious Joanna- the shape of politics to come, perhaps? I still think Gordon Brown has a sporting chance of election victory if the turndown turns up quicker than the jeremiahs think, but the odds are lengthening longer even than 66 to 1 perhaps, as security minister Lord West insisted he didnt wager. But a very different book may be about to open on the opposite course – on Brown even surviving as leader until the poll. Candid friend Mike White in the Guardian lists retreats on ID cards, a national database for web users, Titan prisons and now over the Gurkhas, the biggest rebellion since MPs voted on the expansion of Heathrow. White asks: is the tipping point for Browns leadership about to happen? A leader’s authority can be whittled down over lesser issues than the economy… Adds Tonight, bowing to the Commons vote, the lippy Immigration Minister Phil Woolas pledged that no Gurkha would ever be expelled from Britain and promised new rules for admitting Gurkhas to the UK by the summer. This seems to mean a total government climbdown to Joanna Lumley and friends.
Not the biggest defeat ever, as analyst Philip Cowley says, if rebellion is defined as a vote against the government but shaping up to it, with 90 Labour MPs abstaining. And as the BBCs Gary ODonoghue notes, this is only a prelude to what could be disaster for Brown in the vote on reforming MPs expenses. “Completely and utterly ridiculous”. That was how a sleep-deprived Gordon Brown reacted in Warsaw this morning to suggestions that his handling of the controversy over MPs’ expenses had not been a total triumph. reports the BBCs Nick Robinson,nobly filing en route to Old Trafford for the Man U v Arsenal match, as he presented the picture of a Prime Minister in denial.
BTW Willie Mc Crea has just let the world know of his hand in the government’s defeat.
“The DUP was pleased to line up alongside parliamentary
colleagues from all parties to ensure that the government was
defeated in the House over their disgraceful plans. This vote
vindicates the value of our independent, unfettered approach in W
estminster. I hope now that the government will indicate retreat
from their plans towards the brave and courageous Gurkhas and
Could Willie be making a local political point here, by any chance?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London