Conservative Diary

Gordon Brown

23 Jul 2011 08:12:11

A change in the Cameron-Osborne relationship?

By Matthew Barrett
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Iain Martin's column in the Daily Mail today has two fascinating nuggets.

Warsi Sayeeda CardiffFirstly, Martin calls Party Chairman Sayeeda Warsi "invisible", and her performance during this News International saga, "pathetic". This has meant...

"the final straw for an exasperated No 10 and Chancellor George Osborne is hunting for a replacement."

"A leading Tory" blames Cameron for the appointment: 

"‘The problem stems from Cameron viewing the role of party chairman as a non-job, which he could use instead to advertise his modernising credentials by appointing a Muslim woman. He has found out the hard way why the Tory chairman should be a street-fighter who can go on television and defend the Prime Minister in the middle of a firestorm.'"

Continue reading "A change in the Cameron-Osborne relationship?" »

29 Mar 2010 08:03:13

The Conservative attacks on Gordon Brown are entirely justified and justifiable (whereas Labour's personal poster campaign against George Osborne is not)

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The Conservative Party's latest anti-Brown advertising campaign attracted much media attention yesterday. For example, Sky News featured this report throughout the day:

Shadow Treasury minister Greg Hands appears there to defend the campaign, but also included in the clip came a note of scepticism from Paul Richards, who appeared to be there as an independent political analyst - which he most certainly is not. A former Labour candidate and special adviser to several Cabinet ministers, I actually appeared head-to-head with him on Sky News yesterday lunchtime to discuss these very posters.

He has written about the ad campaign here for LabourList, claiming, among other things, that political posters are a thing of the past and that negative or personal attacks won't work anyway.

Let me deal firstly with the element of hypocrisy here. Look at Exhibits A (taken from the Labour Party website) and B, from Nick Watt's blog where he noted that "Labour has launched this poster lampooning George Osborne":

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Picture 6
What are they if not both posters and negative and personal? Will Paul Richards disown his party for having produced them? Will he advise Labour that producing posters is "a waste of money" and that the above examples amount to "bullying tactics"? I suspect not.

Political campaigns are always going to contain a mix of positive and negative messages and this election will be no different for any of the parties contesting it.

Should the Conservatives attack the Labour Government's record where it has failed? Of course they should. Does the man who was Chancellor for a decade and Prime Minister for the last three years personify that Government? Without a doubt.

It is completely fair and justified for the Conservatives to link Gordon Brown directly with the failures of thirteen years of Labour Government and ask people whether they would therefore trust him with the reins of power for another five years.

I would venture that it is far harder for Labour to justify the above posters attacking George Osborne which are not simply negative but personal - and not linked to policy in any way, shape or form.

Jonathan Isaby

19 Mar 2010 08:01:32

The Conservatives are preparing a Budget week billboard campaign lambasting Gordon Brown for his handling of the economy

Picture 13The Times this morning carries news that the Conservatives will "within days" launch a new nationwide billboard blitz attacking Gordon Brown and his handling of the economy. The paper suggests that it shows Conservative strategists "adopting a more negative message".

It follows on from the major billboard campaign at the beginning of the year featuring a fresh-faced (not airbrushed, he insisted) David Cameron committing to cut the deficit and not the NHS.

Firing a broadside at Brown for his economic record would certainly seem an obvious course of action next week, with the Budget taking place on Wednesday. 

The Times reports:

"The second wave of posters will concentrate on Mr Brown and seek to convince voters that he is personally responsible for the state of Britain’s public finances. The change in direction is being supported by two US advisers recently hired by the Tories, both veterans of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

“The purpose of the campaign is to close the door on Gordon Brown, to block off any chance that voters might be tempted to return to him,” one Conservative strategist said.

"Senior aides said that George Osborne, the Tories’ election co-ordinator, remained committed to fighting a largely positive election focused on the benefits of an incoming Conservative administration. Mr Osborne had, however, accepted the need for more negative adverts, his allies said."

Jonathan Isaby

22 Feb 2010 08:35:39

David Cameron should not bully Gordon Brown about bullying

Scroll down for later updates


MorningpapersThis morning's front pages will make painful reading for the Prime Minister. Most continue to lead on the allegations in Andrew Rawnsley's new book that Gordon Brown bullied staff - covered on the weekend's LeftWatch thread - which are now bolstered by claims from the chief executive of the National Bullying Helpline that her charity has had calls from staff at Downing Street.

The Left have moved to bully one of the messengers (a favourite tactic of Alastair Campbell), effectively accusing Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline of being a Conservative who is trying to make political capital out of the row. I've no idea what her politics are, but I do note that, according to its website, the NBH has worked with a number of Labour-linked trade unions including Amicus, Unison, NASUWT and the TUC itself. Mrs Pratt gave a further interview to the Today programme this morning which seemed to raise further questions rather than shed any more light on matters (audio link will follow shortly is here).

Make no mistake, the allegations are serious. But without any individual personally having spoken out themselves to make a specific accusation, the Brown camp can continue to issue generalised denials and we could yet reach a position where Brown ends being viewed by the public as the victim in all of this (as was the case when the Sun monstered him for mis-spelling the name of a dead soldier in a condolence letter).

As such, a time when a narrowing opinion poll lead will be focusing minds, David Cameron should avoid getting involved in the row. There are plenty in the media, the blogosphere and on the Tory backbenches who can comment and ask awkward questions of the Prime Minister on this subject. But the Tory leader should resist any calls for him to go on the offensive.

Continue reading "David Cameron should not bully Gordon Brown about bullying" »

7 Dec 2009 13:03:08

Gordon Brown steals David Cameron's language - but fails to convince on his efficiency drive

Gordon Brown Gordon Brown this morning gave a speech in which he appeared to be taking on board much of what Conservatives have been saying for a long time about the benefits of transparency in the Post-Bureacratic Age.

He talked about publishing the salaries of those earning over £150,000 in the public sector and giving parents, patients etc more information online about the services they are using.

He even stole a line directly from David Cameron's victory speech on winning the Tory leadership four years ago.

Cameron said on December 6th 2005:

"There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state. "

Brown said today:

"I have always said that there is such a thing as society and always said also that this is not the same thing as the state"

Yet while he may be trying to play catch-up with David Cameron in certain ways, the savings that Brown announced this morning have been given a frosty reception by Shadow Chief Secretary, Philip Hammond, who reacted thus:

Continue reading "Gordon Brown steals David Cameron's language - but fails to convince on his efficiency drive" »

6 Jun 2009 08:47:39

Tories will be content that an even more damaged Brown limps on

SaturdayDial I've moved the swing-o-meter a little more in Brown's favour this morning.  Brown DID successfully reconstruct his Cabinet and the only damaging resignation he suffered was that of Caroline Flint's.  But Flint's resignation was undermined by the fact she had paid a tribute of loyalty to Brown only 24 hours earlier.  Her resignation looked a lot more like disappointment at not being put in the Cabinet than having the seriousness of James Purnell.

It's possible that big beasts are waiting until disastrous European results before moving against Brown but that seems unlikely.  Labour's big beasts know that they'll have to go to the country if they remove Brown and they fear the electorate's mood at the moment.  That's why only Purnell moved against Brown and without a palace coup there'll be no peasant's revolt from the backbenches.

Brown has survived and can smile a little this morning but it's no accident that the swing-o-meter has Cameron smiling as well.  Compared to just 48 hours ago Brown has less authority; a less impressive Cabinet (Hutton, Purnell and Blears are better than their replacements); lots of ministers who will need months to get on top of their briefs; a more disunited parliamentary party; and, crucially, less respect from all informed observers.

Martin Bright writes: "His Washingtonian nonsense about being taught by his father to always be honest is just hide-behind-the-sofa excruciating."  Every journalist knows that he lied to them yesterday about not wanting to move Alistair Darling.  It's yet another instalment of the dishonesty he most memorably exhibited at the time of the bottled 2007 election, that he didn't look at opinion polls when cancelling the election. 

The last word to David Cameron himself:

“Gordon Brown has been forced to carry out an emergency reshuffle to cling on to office. He has taken people for fools again by claiming it was ordered and calm when in fact it was driven by damaging Ministerial resignations. At a time when Britain needs a united and strong Government all they get is a weak and divided one. Britain deserves better than this."

And the last picture to Sky News:


Tim Montgomerie

5 Jun 2009 17:32:19

Caroline Flint MP attacks Brown for using her as "female window dressing"

Caroline Flint's full letter (from Red Box):

"Dear Gordon

I believe the achievements of the Labour Government to date have been monumental and you have played an immense part in the creation of those achievements.

However, I am extremely disappointed at your failure to have an inclusive Government.

You have a two tier Government.  Your inner circle and then the remainder of Cabinet.

 I have the greatest respect for the women who have served as full members of Cabinet and for those who attend as and when required.  However, few are allowed into your inner circle.  Several of the women attending Cabinet – myself included – have been treated by you as little more than female window dressing.  I am not willing to attend Cabinet in a peripheral capacity any longer.

In my current role, you advised that I would attend Cabinet when Europe was on the agenda.  I have only been invited once since October and not to a single political Cabinet - not even the one held a few weeks before the European elections.

 Having worked hard during this campaign, I would not have been party to any plan to undermine you or the Labour Party in the run up to 4 June.   So I was extremely angry and disappointed to see newspapers briefed with invented stories of my involvement in a “Pugin Room plot.”

 Time and time again I have stepped before the cameras to sincerely defend your reputation in the interests of the Labour Party and the Government as a whole.  I am a natural party loyalist.  Yet you have strained every sinew of that loyalty.

It has been apparent for some time that you do not see me playing a more influential role in the Government.  Therefore, I have respectfully declined your offer to continue in the Government as Minister for attending Cabinet.

I served six years as a backbencher and, therefore, I am not unhappy to be able to devote myself to promoting my constituency’s interests and to support the Labour Government from the backbenches.

This is a personal decision, which I have not discussed with colleagues.


Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP."

4 Jun 2009 22:33:53

James Purnell quits and calls on Brown to "stand aside"

12.55am: Hutton, Straw, D Miliband and Hoon have declared their support for Brown.

12.40am: Prescott attacks Purnell on LabourHome: "Not so much a Blairite as a careerite"

12.05am: Shaun Woodward tells BBC that he feels "badly let down" by Purnell. A few minutes earlier Peter Kilfoyle says Purnell has never held a proper job! These people will kill each other...

11.50pm: PM's full reaction: "The Prime Minister is disappointed by the resignation of James Purnell, of which he was informed shortly before 10 pm. His focus over the coming days will be on restructuring the Government on the big challenges facing the country for the future: how we guide the economy through the downturn and strengthen it for the future; how we push ahead with reform of and investment in our public services; and how we renew trust in our democracy and Parliament. He will continue to give his undivided attention to addressing these great challenges facing our country and putting the interests of the British people first and foremost." (From Paul Waugh).

11.45pm: David Miliband says he is NOT resigning.

11.38pm: LabourList saying Andy Burnham may quit tomorrow (thanks to commenter Dominic for the hat tip).

11.35pm Fraser Nelson: "Brown got rid of Blair by getting private secretaries to resign hour after hour. It seems Brown is going to go after ministers resign day after day."

Osborne11.20pm: George Osborne appears on Sky and then BBC News with two main messages:

  • James Purnell's letter was all about what was in the interests of the Labour Party, not the country.
  • Britain needs an election and the case for an election will be even stronger if Labour attempts to install another unelected Prime Minister.

11.20pm: Graham Allen MP calls on Brown to go - saying his view is shared by "most" Labour MPs.

11.10pm: PM says he is "disappointed" by resignation of Purnell but promises to restructure government over next few days and to give "undivided attention" to challenges facing Britain.

10.53pm: From CrownBlogSpot: Adam Boulton on Sky News says the "lights have gone out in Downing Street":

10.50pm David Cameron's reaction: "In a deep recession and a political crisis we need a strong united Government. Instead we have a Government falling apart in front of our eyes. Britain deserves better than this. With this resignation the argument for a general election has gone from being strong and powerful to completely unanswerable. For the sake of the country Gordon Brown must carry out the one final act of authority left open to him, go to the palace and call the general election we have been demanding.”

10.45pm: Michael Crick says Alan Johnson has campaign in place. Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Sports Minister) will run it if Johnson pulls trigger.


10.40pm: Full Purnell letter via PoliticsHome (click to enlarge):

10.35pm: Coffee House reports rumour that David Miliband may quit tomorrow. If true it is curtains for Brown.

The BBC has more.

4 May 2009 17:14:01

Gordon Brown

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