This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Like shuffling the deck chairs about on the Titanic

Another tumultuous day in Westminster.

Another awful day for the Labour Party.

We have become a laughing stock.

Gordon Brown’s reshuffle is a bit like shuffling the deck chairs around on the Titanic. It ain’t gonna solve anything.

It is window dressing – something which the Prime Minister knows all about, according to Caroline Flint.

Her brave and direct attack on Brown is very serious because we all know it is true. By the way it is not just women he treats like that, its men too.

However, she weakened her case by professing such loyalty only twenty four hours before. In the end, at least she had the courage to eventually say what she thought, unlike some of her colleagues. It was a stinging rebuke to a Prime Minister who treats his colleagues with utter contempt and sanctions the poisonous briefings against them which have sadly become the norm in the Brown Government. Flint has done the right thing.

What a pusillanimous Cabinet. They have tied their fortunes in with Brown and they’ll go down with him. After the next election, James Purnell will be in a very strong position indeed.

I can understand the disappointment of many MPs that not a single other Cabinet Minister was prepared to support Purnell, even though many of them privately agree with him. If Miliband ever hoped to be leader, his chances have surely now gone for good.

The fact is Labour has never had such a disastrous local election result. We are no longer in charge of any county councils. We have lost in places like Lancashire and Derbyshire which should be the backbone of Labour Party support. They have gone – perhaps for good. Responsibility for this rests with Brown.

I am an instinctive Party loyalist and I have defended this Government until I am blue in the face. But Brown has tested my loyalty to the limits and I can no longer support him. He is dreadful. I do not want anything to do with him.

In nailing my colours to the mast, I know I will be criticised. I still believe in the Labour Party and its values. I still believe that a Labour Government is always preferable to a Tory one and I still believe that our Party can go on to achieve great things for the British people. I am Labour through and through and prepared to accept it if people think I am wrong. But I can’t be loyal to a Prime Minister I have no confidence in. I have no faith in him and no belief.

If he thinks that bringing Alan Sugar into the Government (who, incidentally I do admire) as Enterprise Tsar is suddenly going to provide us with the vision and direction we need, he is very fickle. What next, ‘Casualty actor’ for Cancer Captain? Please.

To lose half a dozen Cabinet Ministers within four days makes his position look untenable and yet he clings to power with a desperation that makes him look pathetic.

And yet, cling he does. The rebels are divided and unsure. They may even cock this up – which would make it all pointless. I urge them not to.

Purnell, Milburn, Clarke and those on the Progress wing of the Party have to find a way of working with the impressive Jon Cruddas and his Compass band of supporters. It is nothing to do with being Blairite or Brownite, on the left or on the right of the Party. It is about character and values. The Prime Minister lacks both. He is an electoral liability. A change of leader would be a damage limitation exercise which might mitigate our loss at the next General Election.

If we change leader, we can find a way of uniting behind a centre left agenda – starting with huge reform of Parliament in an attempt to regain voters’ trust – that could recapture the political initiative and lead us into the next election in a stronger position. Remember, the Conservatives didn't have the brilliant night they had been hoping for on Thursday. Their vote was down, hardly a ringing endorsement for Cameron.

But Brown is an obstacle to any chance of reform. He does not have the trust or credibility to see it through.

The Euro election results are going to be equally as bad for the Party and powerful because they are proportional. MPs should seriously consider them on Sunday night, weigh up how this would look in a General Election and act decisively on Monday when they return to Westminster.

The British public would never forgive us if we gave up on them. But if we stick with Brown, we seal our fate and theirs. We leave them to the rot of a Tory Government.

The pressure on him must be maintained. More ministers must resign. More senior figures on the backbenches need to speak out. There should be a secret PLP vote on Monday night. Time is running out to get rid of him. Go he must and go now.

*I was very angry when I wrote this, apologies.


Professor Y. Chucklebutty said...

Alex, i thought I would share some thoughts with you that i posted on Bookface. Obviously you will not agree judging by recent posts and this is not an attack on your views it is just some thoughts.

The Telegraph has well and truly set your agenda for you arguing over how to set about your own destruction. The only beneficiaries from the expenses scandal will be the Conservatives. Out of office Cameron needed a cleansing if he was to have a clear run, it has certainly provided him with the authority he needed to control the party, many of those who would have caused him problems are now discredited or gone for good. And for Labour this has watered the seeds of destruction, and a gift to the anti Brown camp. Yet what periods have been covered under the expenses revelations? Primarily, the period when Blair was leader, Blair who also set about making the best of the system to make a killing on his personal property investments. And don't forget the flats for his son with poor Supermum crying for the cameras. The economic crisis for Britain’s part is wrapped in the continuation of the Thatcherite free market illusion and self-regulation. Blair and Brown are equally guilty of maintaining that illusion and ignoring all the warning signs. But it is not the seriousness of economic situation that brings calls for Brown to step down, no it is focussed on the haemorrhaging of ministers and MPs who were caught lining their pockets at the taxpayers expense in a mixture of miserable penny pinching and contriving to make hundreds of thousands of pounds through milking the expenses system. And who are the main people now calling for Brown to go?
They are the very people who were filling their bank accounts in an orgy of greed. In other words the very same people who through their activity being exposed, have put him in the position he now faces.

Professor Y. Chucklebutty said...

Politically, they were finished. What had they left other than humiliation at the polls if they dared to stand again? But what if their desire for the parliamentary life, the status of an MP is still so dear to them that they cannot give it up – the sack cloth and ashes, the hair shirt, the brandishing of cheques, the desires to serve the people which has suddenly become a priority again in their sordid lives- how can they ever regain any credibility? Just one chance, a chance to take the high morale ground, a chance to show they put the party and the country first. Yes! Get rid of Brown! Focus the attention away from their thieving and greed onto him. It’s mainly their greed that has brought about the government and party humiliation and the calls for him to stand down. By focussing all the blame on him and that a new leader will save the government and the party, then they as individuals may have a chance of being elected at least and not just going down in history as being forced out for being a greedy, self serving hypocrite I am no great fan of Brown and was no fan of Blair by 2001 and by the time he was forced out… but who’s agenda is being followed? Like him or not Brown is probably the most intelligent Prime minister there has been for a long time, and if there is to be anybody from the whole miserable bunch to steer the country through the recession I would prefer it to be somebody of his calibre, intellect and experience, he is not a sound biter, not a pretend pop star, in fact he is a miserable old git, who has to remember to smile but a git I would trust more than Cameron and his ilk and more than the lightweights being named as possible successors or any previous contenders with an interest in gardening. Bring down Brown and you bring in Cameron sooner. Brown’s biggest mistake was not to go straight for an election when Blair went. A new leader will have to go to the polls immediately with no chance to at least try to see what effect Brown’s new cabinet may have and any new policy strategy. If that happens Labour will lose and it will be helped by those who called for Brown to go, which is a call to save them selves. If they care about the Labour party, they should go in shame and silence and not insult us with their new-found morality as born again defenders of the people and the party.

Whatever the outcome, the best of luck to you.

ThomasFairfax said...

We have to acknowledge a basic truth which recognises that the Labour Party originated as the political wing of the TUC. Organisations with a shared objective of “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service“.

Now this all seems to have been abandoned with the clamour for populist policies, involvement with the private sector (we know what that means), more privatisation and other measures more reminiscent of Thatcher than Atlee. It has even been proposed by Balls and some others that Labour should sever its ties with the Trade Unions !

Personalities, it seems, are now more important than policies. After the recent procession of MP’s, Media Pundits, commentators et al appearing on Sky or News 24, and claiming that Purnell had done the right thing or as Flint argued, Gordon Brown is the greatest thing since sliced bread,and then changing her mind, the ramblings of Kinnock hours after his wife becomes a cabinet minister (un elected of course), and Mandelson lurking in the shadows, is it any wonder that Labour is in a state of meltdown, and has lost all credibility with the public?

“We all want Labour to win don’t we?” Is the question posed by the "unity at any price" clique.

The short answer is of course yes, but it is not that simple. The Labour Party of today, otherwise known as New Labour, is in reality the product of Blair, Mandelson and yes, Gordon Brown. But the “Nu Labour” Party of Blair and Brown (The “Granita Deal” is not a fairy tale.), is not the Labour Party which I supported for many years.

The continuing spread of privatisation, financial support for the Banking system without any public control, the ever increasing state restrictions and controls on civil liberties, and numerous other examples, have more in common with the right of the political spectrum than with any policies which I, and may others, would support.

We have already seen the grotesque spectacle of a Leadership Coronation. As in the “Bad Old Days” prior to the CLPD reforms to party rules, influence seems to have reverted to the PLP rather than the Constituencies, Trade Unions , affiliated organisations and Party Conference generally. Another “Coronation” would not (and should not) be tolerated by the British people.

No matter who the new leader is to be, Johnson, Harman, Purnell, Milliband or any other name to be thrown into the ring, they all share the same flaw; they are all Nu Labour.

The only way, in my opinion, for Labour to gain any semblance of credibility as a political movement, and restore some confidence in the political system in this country, is for the rank and file of the Labour movement, the members, the trade unionists, Party Conference and other activists, is to regain control of the party and it’s policies offering a clearly defined alternative to the discredited, populist promises of the right

Tom Harris said...

The people of Britain will never vote for Brown in a month of Sundays.
They have told us that on Thursday and again tonight.
Expenses have complicated matters, but what remains is that Brown promised an end to boom and bust. We are now bust.
His economic stewardship as Chancellor has been completely discredited, as the Prof observes. His handling of the expenses scandal has been limp and unfocussed.
His handling of Royal Mail privatisation is woeful.
His handling of his Party colleagues - the briefing, the bullying and the bungling has been an utter disgrace.
He cannot connect with the voters - on the doorstep they hate him.
They will give their verdict tonight.
What Brown has done is drive Labour voters into the arms of the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and, unforgiveably, the BNP.
It is not the people's fault that they have voted for these bastards. Or the media's fault. It is our fault.
We have no programme. No vision. And no sense of what ordinary people want.
What is going to be in the next manifesto?
We have no idea. There is an utter vacuum at the heart of the government.
Brown sits in his bunker, waiting, like Mr Micawber, for 'something to turn up.'
It isn't going to.
He says the current crisis in confidence is part of the ups and down of political life.
We have just had the worst results in our history.
Our Leader has worst ratings even than Michael Foot in the 80's - a very different politiician.
If we continue with Brown we are doomed to be annihilated at the next election, as we were in 1983. And out of power for years.
The Party is too important for that. The British peoople need us to speak for them. Not sit in opposition helplessly.
Brown has got to go, if we are to save the Party from catastrophe.
We won't win the next election with a new leader, but we will minimise the scale of defeat and live to fight another day.
Otherwise we will be wiped out for a generation.
Ps Don't apologise for getting angry Alex, - there are many Party members who feel like you and are in total despair at what is happening to our Party. It's good that we have young men and women who care and are passionate about politics and have such strong values.
Keep on blogging, stand up for what you believe. We need more like you in the Party.