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Why would security issues help Brown Tim? He has taken a big risk in appointing an untried MP with no experience at all of security matters at the Home Office
He is also presumably a supporter of the Human Rights Act which has led us to have to try (and fail) to enforce control orders on suspected terrorists and no leads a government which has a terrible record on illegal immigration.

"The message that always seems to come over most loudly ... is our oppostion ... rather than our own ideas."

This is true of many areas of policy. Toryism has become afraid to speak out. This is because conservatives fear that labour will either ape their proposals or impugn their motives. So they stick to carping. It is this loss of nerve which has handed Labour its recent victories. We should speak out regardless. If labour implements our proposals, instead of wailing that they've "shot our fox" we should thank them and start up another idea. After a few shot foxes it would begin to seem that the conservatives are on top of the agenda once again. On the other hand, if the left resists our proposals, we have the opportunity to defeat them in argument. Only in this way - by stepping up to the line and shouting through the flack - will we escape the vicious spiral of timidity and decline.

Amid all this talk of "decontaminating the brand" I am reminded of the way that Blair - and his fellow travellers of the BBC - contaminated the tories in the first place. He would agree to some vaguely right wing idea but take care to attack the tories as a category of human being. It was really quite vitriolic and utterly shameless. He conceded everything but he held labour together on a canny, tribal basis. The more he agreed with us on policy, the more he insulted and humiliated and traduced us as people. Despite the tears and the applause he remains a wee stoat of a man.

So on security, let us set out our stall. Let us not be afraid to reassure the electorate by sounding fierce in our hatred - justified hatred - of those who would maim or murder us. Let us not be afraid to show passion and anger. The hearts of the people cannot resonate to sweet reason alone.

Lord Stevens has been poached!

Why, though, has David Cameron taken so long to find a replacement for his former Shadow Security Minister? Doesn't this negligence show how little the Tories can be trusted on security issues under the present leadership?

In the wake of today's foiled attack on the Haymarket, it was quite striking to compare three items on the lunchtime news: David Cameron, uttering vague and empty platitudes and looking a bit lost; Patrick Mercer, typically well-informed, clear and confident on these crucially important issues, speaking from a position of real experience and expertise (which is why, despite his lack of any particular title, he was asked onto 'The World at One'; and then Gordon Brown's appointment of former First Sea Lord Sir Alan West as Labour's new Security Minister at the Home Office.

In sacking Patrick Mercer, Cameron showed all too clearly the respective weight he gives to PR versus the safety and security of our country.

Hot on the heels of a bomb being planted or abandoned in The Haymarket comes the news that GB has appointed the Former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West to the government as Home Office Minister for Security. This will, of course, be trumpeted by GB’s spin doctors as evidence of him taking a tough line and ‘the smack of firm government’. We shall see.

Sir Alan has a distinguished military record and on any view is a gallant former officer who will be deserving of respect in his new post.

Born in 1948, he was educated at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Joining the Royal Navy in 1965 he served on 14 different ships, three as Captain. In 1980 he took command of the Type-21 frigate HMS Ardent in the rank of Commander. Ardent was sunk on in May 1982 during the Falklands War. West was the last to leave the sinking ship and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership.

Promoted Rear Admiral in February 1994, he subsequently became Commander United Kingdom Task Group in February 1996. In October 1997 he was promoted to Vice Admiral and became Chief of Defence Intelligence. West was knighted as a KCB in 2000. He was promoted to Admiral in November 2000 upon taking up the post of CinC Fleet, NATO, CinC East Atlantic and NATO Commander Allied Naval Forces North.

How this appointment will play out is yet to be seen and one would counsel caution before a rush to judgement. The Huntsman is second to none is his admiration for our military. The Royal Navy, The Army and the Royal Air Force stand out as institutions whose values and ethos are of the highest order and whose members are deserving of very considerable respect. As a breed they are far more attractive than politicians (not difficult, you may say!) Traditionally the “Brass Hats” and “The Frocks” loathe one another. In 1917-1918 Haig and Robertson were at daggers drawn with the mercurial Lloyd George in a way that acted to the detriment of conduct of the war against Germany.

Whether, however, they do so well when parachuted in as Government Ministers is rather more problematical. In Britain there is a traditional mistrust of having military men in Government that dates back to the days of Cromwell and the new Model Army at the time of the Commonwealth. Since then the military has kept its nose out of politics, a stance it carefully maintains today.

There have been, in modern times, some appointments of senior officers to Government posts. In 1914 Lord Kitchener was appointed to the War Office. By all accounts it was not a happy appointment and quite a few politicians heaved a sigh of relief when he was drowned when on his way to Russia aboard HMS Hampshire in June 1916. More recently Harold Alexander, who had proved himself adept at sorting out the political difficulties created by our relationship with the USA and other Allies in the Mediterranean in World War 2, came back being Governor-General of Canada in 1952 to be Churchill’s Minister of Defence. At that time each of the three armed forces was still run by a separate department and represented by a separate minister in the Cabinet, with the Minister of Defence as a co-ordinator; Churchill tried unsuccessfully to have other departments co-ordinated by such "overlords". Alexander, a fine soldier and excellent Governor-General, found the work much less congenial and he retired in 1954.

Sir Alan West brings his skills as Chief of Defence Intelligence to the table as Minister of Security. Whether his experience there is what we need in the struggle against terrorism, which is very different from the world of conventional warfare, is a moot point. One only hopes he does not find himself being thwarted by politicians to whom personal ambition is more important than the interests of the State.

One fears that a sound military man may well find the world of party politics not to his taste at all and that the very high standards of conduct to which he used are sadly lacking in a party which does not exactly sympathise with the armed forces (one thinks of the obnoxious Mandelson’s observations about “chinless wonders” as being pretty well representative of Labour’s view of the Military). One wishes him well but proffers the caution: "mind your backs!".

Security is important; but if we emphasise the fact that nearly a third of all the criminal justice legislation passed by this incompetent Government has never actually been brought into effect then that will start to demonstrate that in relation to Justice, the Government uses the passage of legislation as an excuse for failures elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Of course, some of those failures are down to the fact that the police are having to implement the latest set of targets or statutory provisions before they have even got used to the first lot, let alone the lot that was passed moments ago.

ID cards did not assist in Spain or elsewhere. No-one has ever explained that there are specific cases in which the prosecuting authorities would have sought more than 14 days, let alone the current 28 days, for interrogation etc. In the absence of such an explanation and the reason or reasons for it, it seems to me that the plan to go for 90 days' detention before charge is illiberal and not required.

The difficulty with much of the security agenda, as set by this Government, is that it is intended to give the impression that something is being done so that when an explosion occurs, they can say 'we did what we could' and 'the other lot opposed us and we could have prevented it if they had let us have our way', conveniently forgetting that if they had control of their own MPs, they could get every piece of their own legislation through without the support from anyone else!

Nobody better than Michael Gove to fight terror.

MdA's response is VERY strong. This part in particular:

"The Tory Party sounds like the provisional wing of Liberty, or the West London branch of the Shami Chakrabarti Fan Club. Grandstanding as defenders of Magna Carta, they look like they are merely jumping on the libertarian bandwagon. Except, to be frank, it isn’t much of a bandwagon. All the polls, for what it is worth, showed strong public support for 90 days. The British are indeed a freedom-loving people, but they understand that in times of crisis freedoms have to be curtailed. That was in the case in the Second World War and during the Ulster Troubles. In both cases – crucially – the restrictions upon personal liberty were lifted once the crisis had passed. I am truly puzzled by the choice of a generation of Conservatives so initially alive to the meaning of 9/11 to pursue this antiquated path."

Anthony Well's excellentUK polling report has some interesting data from a YouGov poll in The Economist.

Disagree with Matthew regarding 90 day detention, also didn't Davis and Cameron put forward positive measures in their discussions with Reid and Blair? IIRC Gordon Brown then pinched the ones he liked and announced them as his own.

Although not a Conservative MP, is there any chance of getting the retired Lt Col Tim Collins more involved, he is articulate and extremely knowledgeable?

Thanks Scotty - I'm about to do a TD on the YouGov poll.

Huntsman: Lord Kitchener is not perhaps the happiest precedent to quote?

I don't think D'anconas' response was 'brilliant' at all. The Conservative response to the 90 day question was anything but 'shameful'. He should be old enough to rememember that in Norther Ireland internment which is essentially what holding somebody without charge for three months is DIDN'T WORK!
More importantly I am still waiting for the first example from the police that they have been forced to release a suspected terrorist after 28 days because they did not have enough evidence to charge them with anything.
D'anconas remark about the Shami Shakrabati fan club is totally unworthy of him.

You and I just aren't go to agree on these questions Malcolm. I strongly suspect that most Tory activists agree with you, however.

Even Liberty are sometimes right. At this stage, I don't see that a 90 day detention period is necessary. It may be, at some point in the future, but not now.

Of course, Liberty are wrong, also. Notably in their support for the Human Rights Act, which makes it virtually impossible for us to deport foreign terrorist suspects.

Yup Sean. Totally agree. I fear that as always the Blair/Brown axis on security measures are more interested in what looks good, '90 day internment', rather than what actually might work like deportations,intercept evidence being admissable in court and proper control of our borders.

Well said Simon Denis and Drusilla. The Chocolate Orange inspecting Bullingdon Boy is not for the first time out of his depth.

rather than what actually might work like deportations,intercept evidence being admissable in court and proper control of our borders.

Deportations are a matter for Judges and they don't want to do it....what is your suggestion Malcolm ? Arrest the Judges ?

Intercept Evidence may require permission of the NSA in Washington DC since they run Menwith Hill and pay for GCHQ....they may want to be in control of their intelligence information

The reason that some Libertarian Tories resist further inroads on civil liberties is that such measures should not be seen in isolation but against the backdrop of a plethora of laws which by their very nature install the apparatus of a police state. That is not to say that we now live in a police state: this blog and others are demonstrable proof of that. What troubles us is the use to which a future government which was not particularly wedded to democratic ways might put such powers in future. If I was a Robert Mugabe or a Hugo Chavez I would salivate at the sorts of powers that the State now has and the instruments, such as ID cards, of potential repression with which the State has now armed itself.

Everyone who saw the piece on Newsnight recently about their reporter who was given an unpleasant ride by the Police and others merely for following GB around and being a nuisance ought to reflect very hard before surrendering another jot of personal liberty. I found the whole piece very disturbing and thoroughly sinister.

Emergency powers in WW2 had a definable end: the surrender of the King's enemies. Who knows when this present problem will end? And one knows only too well that even if everyone thinks it is at an end, there will be some politician who will try and suggest we need to retain all these powers "just in case". And then, why not extend 90 day detention to armed robbers and drug dealers, who, after all, are a threat to us all. And then why not just a little more to include burglars and pension fraudsters.

Do we really want to live in a country where all sorts of jobsworths can demand to see your papers? Do we want a country where we effectively be interned without trial? Do we really want to be like pre-majority rule South Africa which disposed of similar powers?

I am bound to say that there are better ways of getting to the same result here. Ever more repressive laws are likely to be counter-productive and are merely the lazy way of doing things. A better funded Intelligence service and police force with better training and skills would be far more effective.

Once you have got rid of our liberties, it will be all but impossible to get them back. We are at the top of a slippery slope which it is vital that we avoid slipping down.

The police didn't ask for it, and the government could provide no evidence to MPs that 90 days would have made any difference in any case. Allowing phone tap evidence is a much better and more useful idea which doesn't degrade our civil liberties.

"I fear that as always the Blair/Brown axis on security measures are more interested in what looks good, '90 day internment', rather than what actually might work like deportations,intercept evidence being admissable in court and proper control of our borders."
Absolutely agree Malcolm, it is the headline and perception of being tough on security issues which concerns this government. Had they been more interested in the gruelling day to day management and implementation of the already "effective" laws we have in place then I would give them more credit.
It has been their reluctance to use the measures you outlined which would have been the better route to go in beefing up our security.
I abhor the idea of our liberties being signed away not because they are no longer viable in the fight to keep us all safe, but because it is being used as the most cynical ploy to use in Labour's propaganda war.
Was quite shocked and angry at Matthew D'anaconda's use of the word shameful being aimed at MP's who voted against 90 detention, especially when a few of them would have been in Parliament during the worst years of the IRA atrocities, including the Brighton bombing at our conference. An ill thought out comment which would have been better directed at the government and their woeful record at the Home Office over the last 10 years which has left them demanding these extreme measures in an attempt to hold onto the agenda!

I'm opposed to 90 day detention - indeed, the only thing to (mildly) criticize in that episode was our supporting an increase to 28 days with so little scrutiny. I see no particularly good reason for holding anyone for above 48 hours without offering at least provisional cause, and I'd prefer it to be 24 hours. The concept that a British government might even *consider* locking people up for three months without even accusing them of anything is truly flabbergasting.

As for ID cards...Well, for me, an ID card that I had to show to policemen really would be the end - I'd almost certainly favour the UK joining the Single European State, then. If we are going to totally abandon even the semblance of classical liberalism that remains - preferring a society in which I walk the streets under license of the state rather than one in which policemen can only interfere with me if they have reason to suppose I (specifically, I) have committed a crime - then we ought to have the constitutional protections that go with Continental Republican systems. Otherwise we would be simply giving ourselves over to the arbitrary whim of unconstrained powers.

Tom Tom, outside of the HRA, one can frame primary legislation that would permit the Home Secretary to deport such people. Ultimately, if a judge were to refuse to implement such legislation, then the only option would be to fire the judge in question.

D'ancona's response is painfully dim. What if, he asks, the forensics *still* haven't been completed after 28 days? Well leaving to one side just how rubbish Plod would really have to be for that to be the case, what would Plod do if he hasn't yet got the goods but thinks he *has* got the man? Uh, simple - just what he does every day of the week in a bog standard criminal case. He'd arrest and charge his suspect, a compliant judge would say, 'okay, and yeah, bang him up while we wait for the trial date', and in the interminable period between arrest and appearing again in court, presumably even (D'ancona's vision of) the police could find the crucial evidence you think they couldn't find in the 28 days.

D'Ancona's line is rather odd in places. For example, he seems to think that the reason we opposed 90 day detention was that we thought the move popular with the public whereas he thinks it is not. Thus he condemns us as incompetent populists. The thought does not seem to have occurred to him that it might be an issue of principle for Conservatives to oppose unnecessary detention without trial. I'm certain that, at least for Cameron and Davis, this is the case - they aren't just posturing; they believe it.

Why is 28 day detainment dangerous and 90 day detainment even worse? Read this:

http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/legal/september_11th/docs/Gitmo_Hunger_Strike_Report_Sept_2005.pdf

Such things cannot be suppressed indefinitely.

The political capital Al Qaeda can gain from such protests is enormous.

Why do you think Guantanemo is closing?

My guess is Labour are banking on this 90 day detention being defeated. They would be fools to want otherwise.

The British people hate weakness in politicians- look what they thought of Foot- and Cameron is in very serious danger of being made to look like him. Surely we should be publically and repeatedly demand tough action, rather behaving like the Mad Hatter's doormouse.

Sometimes principles have to give way for temporary expediency. I have yet to read anything in these exchanges that tell me how we may not be branded as being weak by our opponents- once the electorate get this message, it will be impossible to shift them this side of an election, particularly if we do have another atrocity

Perhaps someone could tell me :-
a) What Conservative Policy is
b)How we can counteract allegations of weakness.

malcolm, Couldn't have put it better myself :-)

The arguments put forward for 90 day detention are often ill informed. Encryption? It is possible to encrypt data so that it will be inaccesible in the near future... ie. You "might" break the encryption in a few decades

It seems to me that the arguments "we're at war" authoritarians want to offer often reflect a desire to regularize matters that should not be regularized. They say "But what if the security services have someone that has planted a nuclear bomb in central London. Shouldn't they be able to lock him up without charge/beat him/not tell his friends where he is?" To which I say: Do much more than that! Break his fingers/burn him with cigarettes/drown him to unconsciousness and awake him with blows to the head! MAKE HIM TALK!! But don't pretend it's legal! And don't come sobbing to me about how sorry you were and how you really believed he was guilty. If you are right and it works, you may get a medal. If you are wrong, we will hunt you down.

It is a natural desire to want to give our most brutal acts of necessity the fig-leaf of Law. We want to fight "legal" wars, to execute our defeated enemies only after "war crimes trials", to conduct "authorized" torture. But the truth is that, although internment and intimidation and torture are all sometimes necessary, we should never make them legal. For things legal are carried out under the shield of discretion and the defence of "I only did what I believed to be right at the time."

Tom Tom, outside of the HRA, one can frame primary legislation that would permit the Home Secretary to deport such people

NO you cannot. The HRA is not even the main pouint now that Case Law exists. Whether Britain has the HRA or not it is still subject to the ECHR and the Case Ruling in Chahal v UK

Chahal

The British Courts will still apply this Ruling whether the HRA exists or not.

The EU Constitution which Blair signed up to will permit the ECJ to enforce that same Ruling.

Unless an Act of Parliament is passed expressly forbidding the Judges from referring to this Ruling it will stand in all case law.

Perhaps declaring a State of Emergency and dismissing the Judiciary would be a solution ?


The 90-Day Detention is only required because of a quirk in UK Law. A suspect can only be held for a certain period before being charged or released; under English Law a suspect once charged can NOT be questioned further - Continental jurisdictions do not have this rule.

If the law were changed so a suspect could be questioned AFTER he had been charged the 90-Day period would not be needed since he could be detained on a holding charge without the full case going to the CPS for processing.

Sometimes principles have to give way for temporary expediency

That will be an interesting thing to put to the test after one of these bombs does go off killing several hundred people....or blowing up a primary schoool...or a hospital.

If the kind of bombing which Baghdad experiences did arrive in London, I wonder just how people would respond ?

michael [email protected]:18

What was it you thought "weak" about Conservative Party policy? Was it our refusal to surrender the freedoms of our citizens in the face of threats of mass murder? Or perhaps our refusal to disengage from trying to help the oppressed of the world in the face of threats of mass murder?

What is supposed to be weak about standing up to terrorists and saying: "You may hate me, but I shall not change for fear of *you*!" Is it weak to want more policemen instead of more arbitrary powers for police? Is it weak to want our armed services funded properly? Is it weak to stand up to popular demands for knee-jerk responses to events and instead say: "Hold on! Will that actually make things better, or does it just slake your thirst for action?" Is it weak to argue for what we believe to be right, even though it is unpopular?

Let your curses fall on those that merit them - the apologists for murder; the hand-wringers who say that we bring these things on ourselves by our support for Israel; the self-haters who see only the tiny errors our rulers make and none of the virtues of West; those that proclaim "All ways to do things are equally good, and we can condemn nothing but condemnation itself" - call *them* weak. But not Davis and Cameron, who seek to stand up, under pressure, for what they believe to be right.

"How should Cameron respond to Brown? (On security)"

Start by refusing any "accomodation" of or negotiation/involvement with Mohammedan pressure-groups in the UK; commit to an ongoing and significant real-terms increase in defence/intelligence spending in accordance with the reality of our troop-deployments in the war against terror; a reinforcement of our commitment to NATO [rather than any European military forces].

You can get a serious and significant upgrade in our *real* forces - Apache helicopters, air-to-ground-missiles etc - for the amount Brown-et-al would have us squander on pathetic things lie ID cards.

ID-cards never killed a terrorist.

I agree with passing leftie at 17.33:

"The police didn't ask for it, and the government could provide no evidence to MPs that 90 days would have made any difference in any case. Allowing phone tap evidence is a much better and more useful idea which doesn't degrade our civil liberties".

It is important for a number of reasons that terror suspects be brought before a judge every 28 days, when they could be further remanded in custody if a case is made out.

What a load of dangerous claptrap!

"It is psychologically easier to believe that the Islamists hate us because of Iraq, but it is also nonsense."

This is not what our security and intelligence services are telling us. Sure it isn't the only reason but it is undeniably another stick for the extremists to beat us with.

"The British are indeed a freedom-loving people, but they understand that in times of crisis freedoms have to be curtailed."

Yes it is true that many people don't give a damn about civil liberties, they just think "well I don't break the law so I'll be alright". It is largely the an issue for educated political elites because they are the ones most likely to be affected should a government abuse its executive powers. But the fact is protecting this vigilant middle-class intelligencia, safe from unjustified interference by an overmighty state is exactly what keeps our democracy healthy and the every-day law-abiding citizens safe from the terrors of a police state.

How would our politicians, academics, judges, business leaders and civil society leaders hold the government to account without civil liberties? Are we not trying to promote these very freedoms around the world in places less fortunate than the UK? What is wrong with the Conservative Party being the voice of reason in the face of Blair and Brown clumsy and ineffective authoritarianism?

Excellent piece by the editor.

“(Our security spokesman) could then take the lead in exposing Labour's appeasement of extremist Muslim groups, the need for much greater investment in intelligence, the improvement of infrastructural resilience and the case for allowing intercept evidence. Protecting the public should be any government's top priority. Team Cameron need to demonstrate they understand that.”

Precisely!

It seems the public might need defending from Labour as well as terrorists! Left-wing/liberal authoritarianism seems to oppress and attack the freedoms of the law-abiding (e.g. ID cards). Right-wing "authoritarianism" on the other hand is tough on the criminal and terrorist.

I hope the editor's prediction of a bombing attempt succeeding is wrong, but if such does happen, then no doubt we'll get the usual bleating from the BBC and the liberal/left about "winning hearts and minds", advocating appeasement, and blaming foreign policy etc etc..

But Mr Cameron is right to offer support to the Government in dealing with the threat.

SEven persons have decided Control Orders are not an effective restraint....if just one of those who absconded is found to be connected with these car bombs in London life could become interesting.......


I wonder why they chose Mercedes.....were they part of a car theft ring ?

There aren't many new laws that could be brought in to provide further powers for the police - nothing this side of Hell anyway.

How about providing incentives for individuals to come forward with possible suspects (perhaps monetary); more funding for the security services; and calls from Cameron for Brown to be less partisan, may be promising cooperation in round-table talks?

Somehow the EU Governments have to find a way of having the Chahal Case revised at the ECHR....that would mean having a similar case go up to appeal but with that ruling in place no court would back the deportation case anyway.

The only way is to seek a derogation from The Convention on grounds of National Emergency but that will not come before a 9/11 takes place in Europe giving the judges a fear of being physically removed

Politicians will need to learn a little modesty. They are capable of starting wars as we know. But they are not capable of fighting them. Winning wars depends on another body of people completely - intelligence officers, electronic eavesdroppers, technicians of all sorts and specialities, soldiers, airmen and naval personnel.

All governments can do is ensure that these people are properly funded, and motivated, and honoured for their dedication.

As regards honour, Gordon Brown is so keen to claim all the credit for protecting the public that he is unlikely to have any of it spare for the people doing the actual intelligence work and fighting the actual wars. In fact in his way of thinking, they are servants in his power and control.

As regards money and equipping, I think we all know how pathetic Brown has been in funding the services that are fighting this war for him.

As for motivating people, Gordon Brown is boring and not inspiring. He will always use a hundred words where ten would do. It is his lack of self belief which is the problem. He didn't even have the courage to face an internal election within his own Party, let alone an external one.

Somebody accused Cameron on this blog of simply mouthing platitudes about the security situation in this country. Well watched Brown being interviewed by Marr and he has done absolutely no better at all. Clearly Brown has no (or was not willing to discuss any) new ideas although he would be willing 'to look at' everything. I suppose it's naive to expect anything better.

I tried to watch Marr's programme, but I couldn't even listen to Brown. He was so dull. It was a monotone - like a background drone - of meaningless blather.

Imagine how many years of this we are all going to have to put up with.

All because no one in the Labour Party had the courage to face Brown and all his 'works'. They should have made him fight an election.

Straw and Miliband have a lot to answer for. They could have put up a fight. Look what they're making us swallow now. I hope the public takes its revenge on them for their stupidity. Anyone of the others would have been better.

Anyone of the others would have been better

No-one who is not biased against the Labour party in general could seriously argue that Gordon Brown is not the towering heavyweight figure in that party. Indeed, I'd argue he's currently the big beast in politics generally, the beasts on the Tory side having retired or gone to sit on the back benches.

Miliband is arguably a junior big beast, he'll be there in a few years. I would put Hague in the same category probably.

But I can't take you seriously if you try to argue you'd rather have Prime Minister Straw, or Hoon, or Beckett, or Reid, or Darling.

If any of those had taken over you Tories would have been (a) laying into them on this board just as much as you are Brown, (b) very relieved, and (c) rubbing your hands with glee

An elected leader would have credibility.

Yes Brown's a great bruising thug whose skulduggery saw off Mandelson, Campbell and many other brighter individuals, who I should not name as it will only encourage you.

At least Jack Straw, John Reid, Charles Clark know how to communicate.

It used to be painful to sit through long sermons in church years ago if the preacher was dull. Gordon reminds me far too clearly of how dull it was. You cannot wait for the break - 'Let Us Pray'.

It's certainly true that Brown was dull but most voters are not going to mind that. Dull but reassuring is probably nearer to the truth.

An elected leader would have credibility

It's not true to say he's unelected, two other Labour MPs stood against him and couldn't garner enough support to get through to the second round. That's democracy.

Brown is just as elected as Major was in 1990, and by exactly the same method.

The only difference is that the overwhelming majority of the PLP voted for Brown, whereas Major won with fewer MPs voting for him than had voted for Thatcher in the previous round!

Everyone knows that had there been an election and Brown lost it, their lives would not have been worth living. That's why no one stood. Call it democracy if you like.

Had the leadership election (which you persist in arguing didn't happen) gone through to the second round, there's no chance on earth that Brown would have lost it.

Every single party leadership election, on both sides, where the original frontrunner has ended up being defeated, has resulted in a disaster for the party concerned: Portillo beaten by IDS, Healey beaten by Foot, Heseltine beaten by Major, the examples are endless.

You're just being sour because, as a Tory, you naturally wanted the Labour party to have a loser foisted on them.

Yeah. I love having Brown's mug put in front of me every day boring the pants of me. Blair was politically a disaster, but as a person acceptable. Brown is not. Labour have delivered a lemon.

I like the idea that Healy was a front runner. He had too many enemies, as did Portillo and Heseltine. As does Gordon Brown. This time the bruiser's got the reward for his bruising, because the party failed to hold an election.

I think we will all pay the price for Labour's lack of courage. Brown should have gone with Blair. Without Blair he's nothing. Labour need a new leader. So does Britain.

What do you mean I like the idea that Healy was a front runner - that's like saying "I like the idea that Labour won the election in 1997" as if it wasn't the case.

Of course he was the front runner, Foot wasn't even a candidate until dragooned into it in the mistaken belief it would unify the party. But Healey wasn't just the front runner, he was OBVIOUSLY the BEST candidate, just as Heseltine, Portillo and Brown were subsequently.

Thankfully Labour started to buck their own historic trend of going for the wrong man, starting with Smith beating Gould, then Blair beating Prescott, and now Brown beating McDonnell and Meacher.

The Tories have still to learn that lesson, along with so many others.

Brown is the trash remains of the Blair era. He held position by threat. He won the leadership by threat. Classifying Brown with Healy, Portillo and Heseltine doesn't wash. Those three at least could communicate. But they all made too many enemies.

Brown's just a staffer who's used a skill for execution of his competitors to claw his way to the top of the greasy pole.

Of course Brown can communicate. You are presumably unaware that Brown taught Blair everything he knows about communicating with the media. Your hysterical ranting about "trash remains" betrays your true fear that he's a match for the Tories.

Anyway, your argument that personality is important (to the extent it overrides policy) is fundamentally flawed. The most successful peacetime PM of the 20th Century - Attlee - was a modest, uncharismatic man but achieved more than most of his successors put together.

And as one of the few people on this board (I suspect) actually to have met Mrs Thatcher once at the height of her pomp in the late 80s, her personality was strong but IMO rather unattractive and alienating. Didn't stop her notching up some significant achievements, though.

You are presumably unaware that Brown taught Blair everything he knows about communicating with the media....?

Alastair Campbell? Peter Mandelson?

We already know Brown's policy record is dire. He has no personality to boot. Britain needs better.

tapestry, your comments illustrate that you have no knowledge or understanding of the history of Labour's journey from 1983 opposition to 1997 government, or the role that Brown and Blair played in it.

As (generally) a Labour supporter, I'm happy to leave you in that ignorance.

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it...

How can I learn, if you won't pass across your superior knowledge? If Brown's got even one saving grace, the world would like to know what it is. We're going to be stuck with him a lomg time.

Bruce

I also had the pleasure of meeting Maggie in I think it was 1986 and i'd rather have her as PM any day her than Broon.

i met Cameron last year. Very charming and no fool. Had a team of buddies around him. He's good company.

I met Carol Thatcher about 30 years ago. A strong character like her Mum. Anyone who can piss on national TV in front of 5 million viewers gets my vote.

tapestry, you're missing my point.

My history/knowledge reference was to the fact that you seem unaware of the work Blair and (even more so) Brown were doing to change Labour behind the scenes in the 10 years before Blair became leader of the party. You mention Campbell as the great communications guru - he didn't even join the team until 94, when the hard work was done.

Cameron is trying to ape Blair's 1994-97 tactics, without realising that the Tory party is now at approximately the 1985 stage of the same cycle.

Bill - I also had the pleasure of meeting Maggie in I think it was 1986 and i'd rather have her as PM any day her than Broon

Of course you would rather have her as PM than Brown - you're a Tory! That's a pointless argument. I'd rather have Brown than Thatcher; but then again I'd rather have Thatcher than Cameron. What does that say?

I go back to my original, and main, point. If you want to delude yourselves that personality is more important than policy, fine. But just remember Blair came along as the front man after he'd spent 10 years helping Kinnock, Smith and Brown do the heavy lifting to put the project in place. 94-97 was just the gloss, not the groundwork.

PS. Bill, meeting Maggie was in my case not really a pleasure - I found her rather hectoring and agressive, and not very interested in hearing opposing views. Sounds rather like some reports we hear of Brown, no?

Of course, I know several people who've met him and found him charming.

How they do the job - that's the point. We shall see.

Blair's only policy was 'I'm not Mrs Thatcher'. How does fit in with this brilliant analysis?

Those close to Brown say he's a loner, keeps himself to himself. They've no idea what he's thinking. Ideal leadership for a country? - the 'alleged' inventor of the Labour spin machine, the charismatically challenged, self obsessed, skulduggery specialist Brown.

As you say, Bruce, we will see - if we don't already know after seeing him pulverise the British economy for ten years, reducing it from a world leading position to a high tax, low growth basketcase.

details of how he's stuffed our economy in so many different ways on the North Sea oil thread.

Those close to Brown say he's a loner
That is self-contradictory nonsense. "Those close to Brown" say he's decent and honest. People who aren't close to him say he's a loner.

the 'alleged' inventor of the Labour spin machine
I didn't say he was the inventor of the spin machine. That came later, with Mandelson, Campbell et al in the immediate run up to 1997 and after. If you re-read my original posts you'll see my point is that Brown was doing policy work long before this. Of course, he is media savvy and did help to improve Labour's presentation - after the Foot era that was sorely needed - but only to get Labour onto a level footing with Thatcher and her media-confident Tories.

the charismatically challenged, self obsessed, skulduggery specialist
Back to personality attacks again, eh? I'm talking about the meat, the policy.

seeing him pulverise the British economy for ten years
I accept that Brown inherited a decent economy from Clarke. Some previous Chancellors have had a good inheritance, all have squandered it within four years. The fact that Brown maintained growth - and for TEN years - is an unparalleled achievement.

As a final PS as I can't be bothered with this much longer...

If you want to sit back and lob insults at Brown, fine, but it aint gonna help the Tories get back into power.

Those of us who were with Labour through 18 miserable years of opposition learned some useful lessons. Rather than just sitting back and waiting for Labour to lose, the Tories might do well to study Labour's history and progress between 1979 and 1997. You've already wasted the first 10 years - at least Labour began to get it together by 1986 or so, but it was still a long process. You're still at the 1983 stage, only with fewer MPs. The sooner you start the better.

It seems to me you're still adjusting to being in opposition, you're just not used to it. As a historian, I'm happy to remind you this is now your longest period out of office since 1905-1915, and even then you only got back in because of the coalition formed during the Great War - lucky, since your leaders then weren't doing anything particularly useful towards getting back in on your own. So maybe you should go back further for inspiration.

Lots of interesting lessons in history, if you can be bothered to learn them it can save an awful lot of anguish.

Are you an accountant - someone who moves into the futre facing backwards looking at the past?

Labour are in power. And might is right. That's the main lesson of history. The winner takes it all. But that don't mean that we all have to bow down and pretend that Gordon Brown is a anything other than what he is.

I really don't think we should start arguing about the future, Bruce. The present is causing enough trouble. Regardless of your history lessons, I see what I see. I have a mind, and I will express it. History or not. It's here and now, and it's happening.

Here's a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

Despite the best efforts of the home team, I'd score this discussion so far as a points win for Bruce (usual problem of too many strikers failing to pass between themselves, not enough defenders).

Bruce: I do hope that, like Comstock, you become a regular visitor here. If not, thanks for the interesting comments.

In all honesty, I'm not convinced that taking lessons from Labour history is of much value, since the two parties are completely different animals. But what do you make of this: "Blair ran Labour like a pre-Thatcher Tory, whereas post-97 Tory leaders have acted like pre-Thatcher Labour leaders. Discuss." Don't believe it myself, but as I say it might make for an interesting discussion thread....

Here's a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

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