Politics Summary: Thursday, January 7th

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The failed attempt to topple Gordon Brown is the lead story in all today’s papers. The Times says the actions of the “unlikely duo” of former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Brown’s former Chief Whip Geof Hoon had “derailed” Labour’s recovery, with the Independent highlighting the “faulty reasoning” of the plotters, pointing out that “no recent polls have suggested that a different leader would deliver a significant boost to Labour’s ratings”, the only result being that “Labour would be seen as a divided shambles”. Allegra Stratton in the Guardian explains that Hoon’s involvement may stem from being snubbed by the PM for the EU High Commissioner role:

“[He] is understood to have held off a direct criticism of Brown in June, hoping he was still in contention. It is understood he had written a letter calling for Brown to go, but never published it. But Hoon didn’t get a job in Brussels…”

In the Telegraph, Ben Brogan says that, like last summer, Lord Mandelson’s role was crucial in foiling the botched coup attempt.

The tabloids also lead on the coup, with the Mirror calling Hoon and Hewitt “Dumb and Dumber” – just as Left Foot Forward had tweeted yesterdaydescribing how the “bumbling plot” by the “failed ex-Cabinet ministers” came about:

“The botched plot to oust Gordon Brown was hatched in a first-class railway carriage as Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon travelled together to their neighbouring constituencies. Other MPs from the East Midlands told how the pair could be seen brooding about their failed careers.”

The Mail asks “Has Labour got a death wish” while the Sun has an opinion poll – carried out before the coup – whose results show that “dumping leader won’t win voters”. Online, the Labour blogosphere has been almost united in condemnation of the plot, with LabourList publishing a statement from activists and candidates “calling for Labour to unite and focus on the real challenges ahead”.

The terrible weather is today’s other main story. The Mail says the big freeze “could cost business £14bn”, with temperatures plummeting to -17C (1F), and pictures a bus careering into a surgery in North-West London. The Standard reports a new danger to motorists “as snow turns into ice”, the Arctic temperatures sparking a “new round of disruption”. The Times warns of a “salt emergency”, saying stocks could run out “within four days” if the deep freeze doesn’t abate. And the Express pleads “Don’t let it bring us to a stop”. Yesterday Left Foot Forward highlighted the lack of co-operation between central, local and devolved governments in dealing with the crisis.

The Telegraph reports the publication today of a series of options for cleaning up MPs’ allowances by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) which will be subject to public consultation. There had been fears, adds the Telegraph, that IPSA would not implement the Kelly Report in full. The paper, which broke the story of MPs’ abuse of expenses last year, explains how the consultation will work:

“The five-week consultation process will involve meetings and events around the country, as well as the opportunity for the public and interested parties to respond through a dedicated website.”

And the Guardian reports that the al-Qaeda triple agent who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan last week had links to Jordan, said to be a cause of “deep embarrassment” to Amman. Security failings are also to the fore, with former agents expressing “astonishment that he was allowed to enter the Khost base without being searched”. Earlier this week Left Foot Forward reported the role of Yemen in the fight against terrorism.

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24 Responses to “Politics Summary: Thursday, January 7th”

  1. Mark

    Ultimately the Labour Party looks dumb. It can’t settle the leadership issue, we’ve seen the limp support from ministers. Now it will probably fight an election with Brown at the helm. Believe the polls and he’s worth 10 points in the polls or at least 100 seats.

    And that’s just before the election. Voters might think about voting for Labour but they won’t know what to expect. Who will be leader after the election, will the Blairites regain the lead, will an outsider from the Left like Cruddas win support or will a Brownite like Ed Milliband or Ed Balls become leader? Nobody knows. It’s hard enough to sell a weak leader like Brown, but surely selling an unknown contest is going to prove even worse?

  2. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Just to give some balance and since you quote The Times in your article the Editorial on page 2 concludes with:

    “If, once more, the cautiousness of individual MPs triumphs over the obvious collective interest of the party then there will, nevertheless, eventually be a secret ballot — one in which the question of Gordon Brown’s leadership will indeed be settled. But the settling will be done to Labour MPs rather than by them.”


    I am quite frankly horrified by the lack of courage the activists on this blog show and when even the editorial of a national newspaper can see the writing on the wall for the Labour Party.

    Still you continue to spout the governments defective and unpopular view about how this country should be run, so what is the point of being an activist?

    If the Labour Party doesn’t rise up and get rid of this useless, unelected bully then the electorate will. Later this year you can all sit hand wringing and bleating about how you wished you’d done something when you had the chance but it will be too late.

    It’s pathetic. If any of the moderators here have any political ambitions for the future just imagine the cred you would have if you stood on your back legs, grew some balls and told it the way it is.

    You know that might even be called leadership…

  3. Arthur Bough

    What this stunt by Hoon and Hewitt shows is the need for ordianry LP members, and the Trade Unions to stand up and be counted, and to get shut of these Tory agents, and uber Blairites from our midst, as I wrote on my blog yesterday Get Rid Of These Tory Agents. Far from attacking Brown for so called “Class War” politics as the Blairites ludicrously describe it – and Class War politics never did Thatcher any electoral harm – if Labour is to win the next election, it needs to focus its policies around policies that actually deal with the problems of all those ordinary workers, who are being driven into apathy or worse into the arms of the BNP, but not by threatening the living standards of better-off worekrs or the middle class, but by taking aim at the really rich in Britain, at looking at all of the waste that Capitalism in both its private and state forms engenders. If Labour really wants to devolve power it should do so, by encouraging Co-operatives, and by legislating to give workers democratic control over the billions of pounds in their pension funds.

    What yesterday also showed was the disgraceful role of the Capitalist media. In my blog today, Plots And Missing Weapons, I’ve compared the claims of Hoon and Hewitt that they had six Ministers lined up to support them to the claims of Blair that Iraq had WMD. The media, and the BBC, in particular simply repeated these claims. Apparently, Nick Robinson has now apologised to Jack Straw for naming him without checking first. Yet, they still maintain that they know something the rest of us aren’t allowed to know.

    If that is how the media act now, imagine what they would be like if we had a Labour Government that really did act in workers interests, and against those of the bosses.

  4. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Thursday, January 7th | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/4IQYsa

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Arthur Bough – Why not wait until after the election before you start the calls for the unelectable position you advocate the party adopts? There’s going to plenty of time for that later.

    Labour is only governing because of Blair’s ability to motivate and get support from a large base of voters including those not traditionally Labour supporters. There is no core vote any more – the opinion polls show you that.

    To start this silly Marxist nonsense at all is simply not helpful and shows a childish disregard for the voters in Britain.

    It may sound good in some school yard or university debate but to suggest Marxism in 2010 is frankly ludicrous.

    Next you’ll be asking to publish tractor statistics…

    (No offence personally Arthur – your opinion just sucks)

  6. Liz McShane

    Anon – As someone who is looking forward (believe it or not) to getting involved in campaigning for Labour between now and May/June I just can’t believe the stupidity and irrelevance of Hoon & Hewitt’s actions – they are not even standing again as MPs and the polls show that a change of leader does not matter. So the key thing is to articulate and campaign on the policies both at local & national level so people on the doorstep can judge.

    Yes it will be difficult – it always is after 3 terms in Government but whatever your feelings (or rather contempt for Brown) are, this time last year many commentators were saying that we were heading for a depression…. which hasn’t happened and in fact many countries followed GB’s lead vis a vis the banks.

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Brown said we would lead the way out of recession – wrong on the economy as usual.

    Hoon and Hewitt speak for free thinking members of the Labour Party who know that with Brown in office they will be out on their ear within a few months – have you ever considered Liz that these people believe that people can be best helped in this country with a Labour government?

    Tell me Liz why you think it is acceptable to lower the chances of re-election with Brown in power? He’s useless – everyone knows it but to put his selfish needs before the party is criminal.

    I’ve said elsewhere on this blog – hold the secret ballot. If Brown wins he strengthens his position (not hard). If he loses he has no business leading the party or the country.

    If Brown can’t convince all the 350 members of the PLP he’s the right man for the job (which he clearly can’t) how is he going to convince 60 million UK voters?

    Everyone in the Labour Party knows with Brown in it’s over – it doesn’t matter what the policies Labour have, with Brown in power it won’t matter jot.

  8. Liz McShane

    Anon – I know that you are not a fan of Gordon Brown (understatement of the year possible..) but a change of leader at this stage is just not practicable nor desired for various reasons:
    1. It would appear a selfish act of navel gazing by the party and neglect of the bigger matters in hand i.e. running the country!
    2. A new face at the helm of Government will not change matters – have you not been reading the polls?
    3. Tell me who your dream leader would be at this late stage in the day?
    4. People will/should vote on policies not on personalities or if the face its etc. Maybe Blair tried to introduce a presidential style of governing and personality but that’s not what we need now.

  9. Liz McShane

    For anyone who is interested….
    World at One interview with Labour council leader in Geoff Hoon’s
    constituency — not impressed with traitors:

    “GB’s the best intellect the party’s produced in decades. Ordinary
    members care about that — they’re not interested in having a PM like
    some X-Factor contestant who gets voted off if he can’t sing and can’t

    And on GB’s unpopularity: ‘There are people who wouldn’t vote for
    Jesus Christ if he was leader of the Labour Party.”

    Pretty much everyone’s laying into Hoon, Hewitt & Charles Clarke.

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Liz –

    1. The country goes more and more into debt by the hour – there is absolutely no legislative program whatsoever by this current government – what exactly are the government doing? Lords reform? They’ve even nobbled the Iraq enquiry because they know their behaviour at the time was a disgrace.

    2. It’s because I’ve been reading the polls that I know, as does everyone else honest enough to admit it and it’s why I know that anyone else at the helm could only improve matters. He is the least popular Prime Minister since records began – simple as that.

    3. Dream leader? Probably Alun Johnson because he’s worked in the real world unlike those hopeless Milibands.

    4. Irrespective of what people “should” do, it makes no difference. The electorate will do the rebels job for them. Regardless of Blair and his presidential style he could win elections. I argue that’s because the public voted for him and his “full third term”. Who’s going to vote for Brown?

    Those are good questions Liz but please, tell me why you are prepared to put Brown before the Labour Party?

    What do you believe he has done that makes him more important than the historic party he leads? Damian McBride ring any bells? This man is a thug and bully and deserves no support.

    Why don’t you want a secret ballot to resolve this once and for all because this is not going to go away Liz. What is so frightening about a democratic ballot? (The fact Brown would lose it is what).

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – I’ve just listened to the same interview. He’s wrong. Tony Blair could win elections – to suggest there are people who wouldn’t vote Labour is true but is not relevant to this in any way.

    Labour won three elections under Blair so the man’s point is stupid.

  12. Arthur Bough

    Mickey Mouse, you say that what I have put forward would make Labour unelectable. I take it you disagree with those things then. So, you tell us by that that you don’t even support basic democratic principles such as Workers having the right to democratically control their own money in their pension funds. There is nothing “Marxist” in that other than the fact that obviously unlike you, Marxists are consistent democrats. Clearly you think that only the very rich should have the right to control their own property!

    What is unelectable about proposing co-operatives? Many people do their shopping at the Co-op. In the US 1 in every 4 people are members of a Co-op of some sort. Again there is nothing “Marxist” about proposing Co-ops, other than again Marxists actually beleive thaat workers have as much right as do the rich to own and control property. Once again you seem to belevie that this is a privilege that has to be reserved for the very rich.

    What is unelectable about suggesting that doing any of this should not be at the expense of the middle class? After all wasn’t part of Blair’s project aimed at not alienating them? Once again it seems that your main cocnern is not with workers or even the middle class, but with that fraction of 1% of the population that own most of the productive wealth. Even in terms of New Labour it sounds like you are in the wrong Party.

  13. Anon E Mouse

    Arthur – The trouble is it sounds nice but doesn’t work in practice.

    For some reason universities in this country keep churning out students who spout off Marx and (to use military engineering parlance) know the “square root of f**k all”.

    It’s cuckoo land stuff – no one will vote for it whether or not it’s a good idea in not. Since it will never be electable as a concept just accept you wasted your time learning that drivel and move on Arthur.

    The sooner colleges and universities in this country start teaching stuff that’s relevant to the real world the sooner we can get on working out how to get this useless bunch of weak MP’s to grow some balls, ditch that hopeless Prime Minister and get the re-election of a Labour Government.

    The clock is ticking…

  14. Liz McShane

    Anon – I agree with you that Alan (don’t think he’s Welsh..)Johnson would make a good leader … but when his time comes. Having a leadership contest now (with 4-5 months in the run up to a general election) in any party that is governing is madness.

    I am not scared of ballots at all – it’s just the timing.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Stop it! Every time you tow that same government line (you’re right on the spelling – my mistake) you just heighten the chances of losing the election by an even bigger majority.

    Like everyone else you cannot justify Gordon Brown over the Labour Party but that is exactly what everyone is doing.

    If Brown is in Labour is out and a few months from now I’m going to hate saying “Liz, I told you so” but I will.

    John Major called an election when in a similar position and won it. Brown will go down as the worst chancellor in British history and the least popular gutless Prime Minister as well. The fact he wrote a book called Courage is an absolute joke. Some historic legacy that leaves.

    Anyone would be better than Brown and like I said (and the Times editorial) if Labour MP’s won’t get rid of him the public will – either way he’s going and everyone reading this post knows it or they’re lying (or Ed Balls).

  16. Liz McShane

    Anon – a new leader is NOT going to change the scenario/challenge ahead of us – period. What we have to do is (if you don’t want a Conservative Governnment)
    to campaign & canvass & for your local Labour councillors & PPCs.

  17. Brontides » Blog Archive » The thing left unsaid

    […] the Snow Plot that has become very clear, but yet which is not getting any traction in any of the analysis I’ve seen about it, is […]

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Sounds great.

    Will you be taking leaflets round with pictures of Gordon Brown on them or will you be part of the proposed “Let’s airbrush the Prime Minister out of the Labour election literature”.

    The fact the Labour campaign is doing that (What a surprise Douglas Alexander is involved) is going to be the biggest attempted con of the British public since Labour’s last one…

    So go on Liz – pictures of Gordon or not and please don’t say “I’ll just deliver whatever they give me…”

  19. Liz McShane

    Anon – I am hoping they will be leaflets outlining key policy differences between us and the Tories. You seem rather obsessed with GB – maybe you need to seek help!

  20. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Obsessed with Gordon Brown? Absolutely – the way he bullied people to get rid of Tony Blair was despicable.

    I agree with you on the policy differences but the public don’t care – they hate politics.

    So back to the question – Gordon Brown on the leaflets or not…

  21. Liz

    Anon – I thin the GB/TB leadership things goes back a long way…. Granita Restaurant in Islington.

    I haven’t seen the leaflets yet but I would be surprised if GB wasn’t on it along with a pic of the local candidate etc… Believe it or not there are people who are not embarrassed by GB – yes he’s not a media star the way Blair was but I DO believe he has integrity – Let’s just agree to disagree…..!

  22. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – You seem like a nice person I agree (to disagree)…

  23. Liz McShane

    Anon – agreed! (i.e. to disagree)

  24. Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward

    […] by MPs on behalf of outside organisations. It revealed that Patricia Hewitt, one half of the “Dumb and Dumber” plot, booked Commons rooms five times for companies she had financial interests in – […]

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