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What's to be afraid of? The sooner Brown takes over, the better for us, from general to specifics:

General: new faces give temporary fillips to rotten administrations (John Major in 1990 won in 1992) - it gives an "out" to voters who are aware that they have been voting for a fundamentally rotten party for years but want the reassurance that this isn't true (if it is, they have to vote for the opposition, which causes cognitive dissonance I'm sure). So the longer Brown's PM the longer we have to smooth that bump.

Specifics1: whatever you thought about JM for PM, I think he just exhibited a fundamental decency and openness of spirit that will simply elude Brown. To be blunt: John Major was nice. I would love to spend an afternoon talking with John Major about stuff. Gordon Brown is not nice. I can't think of anything I would less like than to be stuck in a room listening to him. (I could be wrong about this but I'm referring to perception not reality and most of us won't ever be face to face with these people so it's the perception that matters).

Specific2: JM really was untainted by the public's view of Thatcher. Again, I'm talking perception, not reality: Mrs T was great, but by 1990 most people wanted a change and they got a real one in JM, who was "new" to the scene, hence making it easier to avoid the cognitive dissonance of facing up to the fact that if they really wanted change they would have to admit to themselves that they'd been making an error of voting habit. Gordon Brown is Not-Change. He has been central to every important piece of domestic legislation - the means-testing that scre*s the decent, the penal taxation, the pensions crisis - and more than just that, the fact that he has had dominance in these areas has been trumpeted openly by both Blair and Brown since before 1997; the Granita Corollary, you might term it.

Given points 1,2 and 3, I think it would be to our tactical advantage to have Brown as quickly as possible. It's a phony war against Blair anyway: either the guy is delusional (the Matthew Parris thesis, which I find compelling); or he started off with decent intentions and has been done over by the Labour Dinosaurs. I'd rather have the naked horror of Brown's socialist vision to fight against. It will make our strategy: take the centre ground - even more appealling.

I'm not delusional (enough!) to believe that Brown will start on day 1 with a Soviet style plan for a return to the 1970s. But I think it will be easier to make people believe that to be the case.

Good analysis Graeme. Although if we have to suffer a greater degree of socialism under Brown I hope we manage to kick him out quickly. I will be starting work in a year or so and I do not wish to watch my income being diverted into the black hole that is government waste.

Thank you Richard! Though I would never call my Sunday post-porridge musings "analysis" :-0). Mumblings more like!

"The striving classes"

Who comes up with this meaningless guff?

I can't see Hilary Benn running with a Reid-led anti-Brown ticket.

Benn is obviously a shrewd political operator (who else, with the possible exception of Alan Johnson, could have pulled off the trick of being a stalwart member of this repellent Labour administration and not be disliked by almost anybody?) and having kept his powder dry thus far (admittedly as International Development Secretary), I just cannot see why he would risk that by backing John Reid instead of Gordon Brown.

An excellent bet for Deputy Leader or Foreign Secretary after the succession.

I agree with Graeme about Gordon Brown. What's to fear? He is the quintessential socialist - tax and spend, larger government, nanny state etc - and is a very brooding,unfriendly presence on the screen. John Reid has just said that it would be "catastrophic" for New Labour to go back Old Labour.
The acid test: "would you like to spend 5 hours sitting next to him on a train or a flight"? However, he is a tough cookie and very capable in perpetuating the myth that he has been the best Chancellor ever.
Surely we must now start publicising facts that show another side to him: (i) at what price did he sell off a large portion of our gold reserves, why and what would they be worth today, (ii) what about the damage wh has done to pension funds, (iii) what a fiasco the tax credit system has become, (iv) how did he slip in the recent IHT legislation that was not mentioned in the budget etc?

The thing Labour fail to realise is this. Brown may well encourage people to go out and vote Labour again, but, quite frankly, they're the wrong sort of people needed to win an election.

The people who didn't vote in 2005 were largely old-labour type socialists who said they wouldn't vote for Labour again as long as Blair was leader. These people help shore up the Labour votes in the heartlands, but they are not the crucial swing voters.

The swing voters - the so-called "Middle- professional classes" who were fed up with the Tories in 1997 and who Blair (and largely Blair alone) has managed to keep on his side due to some impressive posturing - are the keys to winning the marginal seats. With Brown at the helm, who will presumably be preaching to the converted, they'll turn away and look for a more reasonable face in David Cameron.

Yes, Brown may get more traditional Labour voters to the polls, but at the expense of losing many of the swing voters Blair won over in 1997. Some will stay, of course, but I think many will switch to the Tories.

Absolutely agree with your analysis Graeme particularly about Gordon Brown being 'not nice'.Watched him on AM this morning and he's as stiff as a board.Not a 'people person' at all.
You can also tell a lot about a person by the company they keep and look at Browns soulmates!Nick Brown,Harriet Harman & Douglas Alexander. Atrio to totally freeze the hearts of the British people.
Yes I'm also of the opinion that it would be good to get Blair out soon (after preferably a few weeks of damaging and bloody internal wrangling in the Labour party).

Blair WILL NOT go of his own accord until after 30.11.2008!!! So unless some people 'push' him, he is here to stay until AFTER that date!

I'm surprised that George Osborne hasn't been mentioned as he was interviewed on the same prog as Gordon Brown. You can watch it here.


Osborne was excellent, IMO. Interestingly from a ConHome perspective, where the EU is more important than the population at large, George confirmed we are definitely leaving the EPP AND that significant progress has been made. His interview is about 18 mins into the programme.

I think Tim is going to win his bet with Chad. :-)

He also mentioned that further changes will include more about women and ethnic minority candidates, and a bigger push of the green agenda.

Thought GB looked very uncomfortable. Was there a bead or two of perspiration on his forehead?
Was anyone else surprised that the presenter of the one pm news today, when talking to John Reed, did not follow the logic of the observation that without Blair there would be a shift to the left. bring on GB!

I think you are right, Patsy, Blair wants to overtake Thatcher. He may be forced out sooner, but it would be a bloodbath, and Brown is not going to get involved.

Like Christina, above,I was impressed with George Osborne. He comes over well on TV and really makes our party look new and fresh.


As a Northener, I loved his response to Marr's sterotypical Southern nonsense about Northerners not being interested in green issues.

Well well well, its been an interesting week. Brown remains a dangerous politician however. We need to be aware that his motives will be to remain in power using any means possible. This will mean continuing the disgraceful tactic of using public services as a political football. He will continue to introduce policy initatives tactically to put us at maximum dissadvantage and, after the NHS fiasco, he will (you can bet your boots on this) use Education as the next lever to power.

We must be find a way to counteract this. We failed completely wrt to the NHS (poor policy alternatives, poor opposition and little public trust). The net result is a disgraced government, but no direct advantage to us. As far as Eduction goes, he is gearing up to do the same - vastly increacing funding - headline grabbing launches - false claims of reform - bribing teachers - distracting publicity - attacking our record - etc. etc. This is coming, and we need to be ready to counteract this immediately and to provide some decent opposition to this Goverment for a change. The other rallying point will be the economy, and as long as it remains pretty healthy, Brown has a strong hand - however people are tired of Labour and will go for an alternative that can win their trust.

We must also get better at reacting to the negative publicity the Government faces. I think we need to be better at handling news developments, a thoroughly briefed spokesman available at any opportunity to press our case and attack the Govt.

The realisation that the lib-dems are not making progress against labour is very encouraging (they deserve much less support), but to win an overall majority at the next GE, we need a few more voters to feel comfortable voting for us. David Camerons position of offering a "Reasonable, moderate centre-right alternative" is exactly the right thing to do, we just need to walk the talk now.

Oberon - you are right that having publicly failed with the NHS Gordo will try Schools. However, whatever they claim about spending there is no money coming through, in fact money is very tight. I work in FE which has been promised funding to close the gap with schools, but it isn't happening. All my staunch Labour colleagues know this and have stopped believing Brown or Blair.

They have been splurging cash all over the place but the well is running dry and Gordo is slowly but surely losing his claim to being a great chancellor (which was always fallacious).

As time goes on GB seems to me to be demonstrating that he lacks almost all of the skills to be a PM; provided we show him up for the unreconstructed socialist with severe personality defects that he is there is nothing to fear from him.

Yes, a great week for us.

Blair wants to be remembered for something positive - he will fight tooth and nail to hang on to power long enough to claim victory for something - anything! Alas, his political obituary is already written and it starts and ends with "policy-for-cash".

Brown hasn't the guts to fight for anything. He's a steamroller, not a debater and there's not a shred of appeal - how could his local party lose a safe seat to the LD's if he had any popularity with the electorate?

The longer Blair stays, the more the story will focus on splits and division, and the more the voters will become incensed that the government is spending all its energies on internal cat-fights and ignoring the real problems in the country.

With the LD's sidelined and Conservatives at 40%, we are the governmen-in-waiting and people will be looking to us for the answers that Labour can't give and LD's can't deliver.

Some good analysis on this thread, Graeme and Elena in particular. I think Blair will cling on. Brown is not attractive to swing voters and frankly he has been a disastrous chancellor - massive increases in the bureaucracy of the welfare state, wrecked pensions, hosed money into wasteful public services. Blair took us into ill-advised foreign adventures and Brown took us into ill-advised domestic adventures. The two are in it up their necks. They created New Labour. They are responsible. Blair and Brown are both sides of the same coin. The public sense this, we have to remind them relentlessly,


I think Oberon Houston's idea of having a thoroughly briefed Tory spokesman, completely up-to-date, always ready and able to cope with news developements, however unexpected, is an extremely good idea.

I also thought that George Osborne came across very well this morning, whereas Brown begins to seem quite spooky nowadays, I can't explain why, perhaps because he seems so remote from the 'normal'.

The thing that struck me about Gordon this morning on Marr was the number of "tics" he had - the odd swallowing, the almost feminine pout/kiss he makes when he thinks he's been clever. He comes across as creepy rather than spooky. You can see why Blair was the preferred candidate for leadership 12 years ago.

He reminds me in some ways of Ted Heath. Both famous for their sulks, both with non telegenic delivery and odd shoulder heaving smiles (and since Gordon had his teeth done both with very odd smiles). Heath showed it was still possible to win with a non-telegenic personality but not sure Gordon could carry it off. Perhaps the interviwers apparent fear of Brown - he gets very easy rides on the whole will carry on but I'm not sure that he has the ability to stand the real questioning a leader gets as events unravel.

I read that Gordon has been having elocution lessons to try and smooth down that son of the manse voice. The article also suggested that the effort of trying to speak proper is giving him a stutter/tic/stammer/ and this morning, I was watching out for it, and it was there in spades! What with that and the pink tie, political TV will be a people watchers paradise. Also, Patsy is right, Tone WILL hang on by the finger tips. Late 2007 for the announcement, 2008 das boot.

Talking about us being better in opposition...

I was listening to Today this morning and Grant Shapps, the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield was on talking about the coast of missed appointments to the NHS. This is a great example of one of our MPs taking the initative on something. Well done to him.

ED - here is an idea, have a page where our MPs are recognised for doing good work in opposition. The telegraph covers the same story at this link...


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