Back to the Future

October 4, 2008

So Gordon Brown has took a trip back in time in his new cabinet reshuffle.

Back to the Future

And the shock recall has been the EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson as Business Secretary.

Peter Mandelson, a serial resigner from Cabinet in the past, will become a Lord to take the role.

Just how desperate is Gordon Brown? Appointing a controversial arch-Blairite with a history of trouble to his cabinet. Why??

Is Mandelson to become the new fall guy in the Cabinet, taking the heat from the Prime Minister?

How long will he last this time? And how will the public react?

Hill Valley Headline

Jim Murphy is appointed the new Scottish Secretary, taking over from Des Browne who was also relieved of his Defence portfolio. Des Browne was offered the Scottish Secretary job after sacked from Defence but felt the job was an ‘insult’.

So once again the Scottish Secretary is a full time job, as it was in the past.

Although it had been rumoured that the job was to be merged with the Northern Ireland and Wales job, as I hinted at in a previous article it would have been better for the Unionists to keep the jobs separate to try and thwart the nationalist advance in Scotland and Wales.

Definitely a case of the Labour Cabinet’s man in Scotland, not Scotland’s man in the Labour Cabinet.

Just in time to preside over the Glenrothes by-election and Motherwell and Wishaw by-election then.

To me, Jim Murphy’s voice just sounds like the Rev I.M. Jolly; especially when the minister had been partaking on the whisky. Its not what I would call upbeat!

So I look forward to hearing him explaining away the forthcoming by-election results.

Rev. I. M. Jolly
“Ah’ve had a helluva year!”

Even if Labour somehow manage to win them both, his voice would send Labour activists jumping off the Erskine Bridge.

In another reshuffle, Alistair Campbell, former Press Officer for Tony Blair, returns to the Labour Government as external advisor.

So its back with Campbell and Mandelson then. The only person missing is Tony Blair and we’d be right back in the Nineties again. Of course, regular readers will recall I pointed out that Labour activists were calling for his return only just recently.

Re-elect Goldie Wilson

We couldn’t get any more ‘Back to the Future’ if Gordon Brown had arrived at 10 Downing Street in a De Lorean.

He must feel like Marty McFly fading away on stage, awaiting for the public to embrace the New Labour message.

Its a pity for him that we’re on the same trip as he is. Lightning won’t strike that clock tower twice!

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Labour turn on Gordon Brown

September 19, 2008

The Independent conducted a poll taken from those members of LabourHome, a site that provides a home for Labour’s online supporters.

They found that 54% of them wanted Gordon Brown to step aside for someone else.

Understandably the paper bigs up its own poll. See Grassroots turn against Brown.

What I find extraordinary is that the number against Brown is only 54%. It suggests that Gordon Brown’s conference showing might well be crucial – either to get his support in the Labour Party to increase with a good performance (and try get over 50% of Labour membership to support him), or on a bad to so-so performance see the numbers against him rise to a tipping point.

Especially when you look at the ratings given by Labour supporters to the Labour cabinet published on LabourHome.

Sept ’08: Only 8 members of Labour’s cabinet have made pass marks. The highest mark being Alan Johnston’s 6.18 out of 10.

And the bottom four:

Des Browne: 4.31 / 10
Gordon Brown: 4.3 /10
Ruth Kelly: 4.12 / 10
Alastair Darling : 4.07 / 10

Even among his own supporters Gordon Brown can’t get pass marks.

The lowest score Alastair Darling shows what a mess Labour has made of the economy. Even Labour supporters – presumably those that would argue that everything’s global and its not our (Labour’s) fault! – can’t even hide the fact that the chancellor is doing particularly badly.

(The Independent’s figures for this are slightly different, I guess because they took a snapshot over just 3 days.)

Motivation to campaign for the Labour Party is now at 4.8 / 10.

Something perhaps borne out last night when the SNP won the Baillieston by-election for Glasgow City Council, a council ward in the Glasgow East seat recently won by the SNP.

David Cairns resignation

September 17, 2008

So David Cairns, the Minister of State for Scotland has quit.

His former boss, Des Browne, holds two positions in the cabinet: Scottish Secretary and Defence Secretary.

In practice, since Des Browne has had enough on his plate to deal with – with military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan – and many of our troops coming home in bodybags; David Cairns was ordinarily performing duties of a Scottish Secretary.

Although a lowly minister and probably not well known in the rest of the UK, he was well known in Scotland. He was very much Westminster’s man in Scotland. He once denounced the Scottish public and press as ‘McChattering classes’. He was never Scotland’s man in Westminster.

It is then a surprise to see him quit.

At the start of July this year he was backing up the Scottish Secretary, Des Browne, in his belief that Scotland never had it so good.

Only two months ago.

As he himself said in his resignation letter:

As someone who has never uttered a public word of criticism of our Labour Government, far less ever cast a vote against it in the years that I have been an MP, the concept of loyalty to my Party and our Leader is at the very heart of my political beliefs.

So he backed Des Browne in saying Scotland has never had it so good – in the middle of a global credit crunch and fuel and food prices through the roof! – and has never voted against Labour since he became a MP in 2001. You might say a career politican then.

So why would he resign?

Well, for one thing the office of Secretary of State for Scotland is about to be scrapped. He was about to be made redundant in any case.

He was also in charge of Labour’s gaffe prone election campaign in Glasgow East, where one of Labour’s safest seats in the UK fell to the SNP.

I very much doubt he wanted to be associated with losing the Glenrothes by-election too.

Losing that by-election – as looks likely – may well have finished his ministerial career anyway.

As his ministerial career under Gordon Brown looked to be finished anyway, it makes sense that he would leave now.

As one of the first ministers to resign and ask for a leadership election he may well be gambling that a new boss might pick him for the new team.

Even if not, he may be hoping that his actions to distance himself from the Labour Government might help him retain his Inverclyde seat at the next election. He has a majority of 11 000 but as Glasgow East proved no Labour seat is Scotland is currently safe. David Cairns is now no longer Westminster’s Yes man and that will surely help him retain Inverclyde.

The fact that he announced his resignation just before Iain Gray publically unveiled his new shadow ministers ensuring that press attention would be diverted to him, pretty much indicates his feelings towards the current Labour set-up.

I suspect he won’t be campaigning too hard in Glenrothes now.

A bad result may be the end for Gordon Brown.

That would be good news for David Cairns.

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Tony Blair for Glenrothes?

September 14, 2008

It seems the Labour Party are beginning to self-destruct before our very eyes.

Now even those at LabourHome, the Labour Party’s blogging site, are calling for Tony Blair to be parachuted into Glenrothes and then taking over from Gordon Brown.

Its hardly a vote of confidence for the Prime Minister or for Labour’s candidate, Lindsay Roy, in the Glenrothes by-election.

Almost like David Miliband’s words have come back to haunt him: “People will be saying ‘wouldn’t it be great to have that Blair back because we can’t stand that Gordon Brown'”

And after fifth-columnist George Foulkes announced that the election of Iain Gray is similar to Tony Blair’s leadership victory, he could have hardly predicted Labour members calling for Tony Blair to be parachuted into Glenrothes for a real Scottish ‘Tony Blair moment’!

Was he doing it delibrately?

Meanwhile as Labour rebels line up to put the knife in Gordon Brown’s back, other Labour MPs have called them idiots.

Des Browne, the Scottish Secretary, has made the point that they have no candidate yet for a leadership election.

The Mail on Sunday has made the case for Jack Straw to be the stalking horse. A case also examined at SNP Tactical Voting.

What must be Iain Gray be thinking as he looks around the wreckage of the party?

Maybe they should take this advice and forget the navel gazing. From his acceptance speech:

“Labour is best when we look outwards and align our values with the people’s aspirations. Not just listening but hearing.”

That phrase struck me.

“Not just listening but hearing.”

Surely it should be the other way around? I would have thought that ‘listening’ implies a more attentive action than ‘hearing’:-

I heard a blackbird sing.

I listened for a blackbird’s song.

That sort of thing. Am I being too pedantic? I know Iain Gray was previously a teacher, surely not an English teacher!

It implies that all the times Labour have claimed to be ‘listening’ in the past they didn’t hear anything.

Then again, I doubt Gordon Brown will listen to his rebels either.

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Never had it so good

July 2, 2008

It seems that the Secretary of State for Scotland, Des Browne, believes that Scotland has “never had it so good”!

Is he really suggesting that as the UK economy goes pear shaped, fuel prices escalate and households have soaring food and utility bills – that we’re all better off?

And this is on the back of the MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris, asking “Why is everyone so bloody miserable?” (This Labour government have made an awful job of running the country – that’s why, Tom!)

Well to be fair he’s not miserable on a 92 grand salary and an expense account of over 150 grand (2006-07).

But its just another situation where Labour seem out of touch with the public.

Now I’m not saying that our politicians get paid too much – though I do think the Westminster expenses system needs radical overhaul – but lets be honest they get paid much, much more than the average Joe Bloggs in their constituency.

At at a time when families everywhere are tightening their belts, you’ve have thought they’d have shown more sense than to start blabbing on like Harold Macmillan.

New Labour sound like Marie Antoinette wanting the peasants to eat cake. (Or was it brioche? It certainly wasn’t the fancy bread she was used to having anyway!)

What would the voters of Glasgow East, with their poverty and ill health records, think of these comments?

These are Labour politicans. I think they would expect such comments from the Tories, but it would make them wonder about voting Labour again.

Still, I suppose thats the New Labour party for you – too busy cosying up to Margaret Thatcher, than to fight for the traditional working class.

Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher

No wonder Gordon Brown was a member of the Feeble Fifty! He said when Margaret Thatcher visited him at Number 10 that “I think Lady Thatcher saw the need for change” and said how much he admired her.

And if the voters in Glasgow East need more persuading of how out of touch Labour MPs are with their constituents then they need look no further than their outgoing MP, David Marshall.

He resigned due to health grounds. Stress was quoted. However he was due to be investigated for Westminster expenses being paid to members of his family.

Both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph have the story.

No wonder he was stressed.

Do you think when Des Browne said we’ve never had it so good he was referring to Labour MPs?

Or has he gone a bit nuts and now thinks he’s Harold Macmillan?

We can only speculate.

Personally I’m just waiting for Des to grow that moustache.