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rotten boroughs - the last days of rome - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-06-05 08:55
Subject: rotten boroughs - the last days of rome
Security: Public
Location:home
Mood:calmcalm
Music:sky news
You'll all know that I'm not exactly Gordon Brown's biggest fan, but I'm starting to discover that there is a point at which schadenfreude starts to become sympathy, maybe even pity. I'm not quite there yet, but I could see how it could happen.
Last night, while I was watching the Big Brother launch programme, the Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell resigned. He was the third Cabinet member in as many days to step down, but more damaging was the letter he sent to Gordon as he went, calling for him to quit as well.
Michael Portillo made a good point that the more people who quit and call for Gordon's resignation, the less courage it takes for subsequent people to do the same. It's always hardest for the first one in the line, and once they've made the jump it's easier for others to follow.
The government is facing a real tragedy, something of Shakespearean proportions, and it's sobering to watch it. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind actually wanting to take over the leadership of the Party right now. If Gordon does step down, or is deposed, his successor will have to call an immediate election. They wouldn't be constitutionally obliged to, but one criticism of Gordon has been that he succeeded Tony Blair as Leader and Prime Minister without an election - without even the formality of a leadership contest - and I doubt whether the media would swallow another Prime Minister taking over without a mandate. And the chances of Labour winning an election right now seem, on the face of it, to be mighty slim.
By law, Gordon isn't required to call an election until next June, and I think he's done the sums and realised that if he can hang on until then he might, just, squeak through. There are faint signs that the economy is, if not picking up, at least not deteriorating further. If things do pick up, Gordon could go to the country next year as the man who saved the economy. This eternal Night Of The Long Knives involving the expenses scandal would be over by then, too, and it would be fading in the public consciousness and Gordon could present himself as the Sheriff who cleaned up Parliament.
Hanging on, though, that's the tricky thing. The results from the local council elections are starting to come in, and so far they don't look pretty. But local council elections are not general elections, and unless there's a total meltdown it should be possible for the government to ride it out.
At the moment the media are parsing Gordon's Cabinet reshuffle. They all seem to be missing the fact that Gordon has been able to carry out a reshuffle, that he's been able to find MPs who're still willing to lash themselves to the mast beside him. Some, of course, will have an eye on future careers. If it's true that Alan Johnson - who is still being tipped by commentators as the next Labour leader - has accepted the post of Home Secretary left vacant by Jacqui Smith, he's in an ideal position to make a move if a leadership challenge goes ahead.
Still, there is a definite fin de siecle feeling here, the spectacle of the New Labour Project, which marched so confidently into Downing Street in 1997, dragging itself along by its fingertips, gravely wounded. It's been a hell of a ride.

edit - now it's being reported that Defence Secretary John Hutton is going to stand down as well.

edit - and Alan Sugar gets a peerage and takes on an `enterprise' role in the government. I wonder if Simon Cowell will be offered a post...
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-06-05 14:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow.

Sounds like rough political terrain in Great Britain. Your ability to recount the situation clearly and concisely reflects your talent as a journalist, as well as being a gifted writer in general.

How's the novel coming along?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-07 15:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's entirely unknown territory. I can't remember anything like this happening before. And really, all I've done it outline the situation in very rough and broad strokes. There are nuances here - the nod of a head, the omission of a couple of words - which are contributing to the atmosphere.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-05 19:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In my humble and inexpert opinion, the new labour project was a zombie from the start. But one with a nice new coat of paint and wearing a rubber mask so you couldn't see its real face.

At that time I was not quite so interested in politics, but I didn't like Blair because he seemed odd, false, an actor making things up.

I've seen several people suggest that actually Brown can find people for his cabinet because 1) a year at £100,000 and experience is always useful, and 2) they are manouvring for the next electoral cycle, and if they walk away right now the labour party as is (The shrunken dessicated relic) would be annoyed at them.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-06 00:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think I may have started to take an interest in politics around the same time you did. I've probably said before that I welcomed the Labour victory in 1997, and that the bastards proceeded to let me down at every opportunity.
Blair did seem artificial, but only because he was a kind of politician we'd never seen in this country before, very American in presentation. I thought he was a literal breath of fresh air after almost two decades of Tory grandees. But, as I said, they started to let me down almost at once. The first hint I got was when David Blunkett turned out to be more right-wing than his Tory predecessor as Home Secretary. That was a shock, particularly as he was an MP in my home town and I knew he was well-regarded in his constituency. And after that it was all downhill.
I'm not sure why anyone would want to serve in a Brown Cabinet right now. I mean, I can guess why Alistair and Miliband are doing it - and today's events prove that your relative is in a much more powerful position than anyone suspected, because Gordon really wanted him out and Ed Balls put in his place and he couldn't shift him, so I think from now on we have to factor Alistair into all our calculations about what happens next. Alan Johnson said yes because it positions him ideally for a leadership challenge, so long as nothing goes pear-shaped at the Home Office. And because I honestly believed he'd never rise to one of the great offices of State.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-06 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't remember any tory grandees, I was growing up during the 80's and early 90's, sure I watched the news but I can't remember any of it except the big flashes like the first gulf war long range missiles firing.

I know Blunkett had a good reputation in the 80's, but what happened after? The impression I get from Steve Bell cartoons is that during and after the 80's a lot of power hungry maniacs managed to get into power in the party and they realised the only way to get elected was to move more centrally, and JOhn SMith was part of this movement. Then he died and the party moved even further right.

Party loyalty seems important, I suppose many of these people have been working within it and with each other for 10 or more years. I've felt enough attachement working with people for or 3 years, imagine how it feels after 10 years in the system.

But its not like a tory gvt will do anything special anyway, just more of the same. If the tories really were conservative I wouldn't mind, but they aren't, we have a choice of two business parties.
My proof? Here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8086233.stm
England's department for higher and further education has been scrapped, just two years after its creation.

The prime minister has created a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills under Lord Mandelson.

Universities do not figure in the name of the new department, whose remit is "to build Britain's capabilities to compete in the global economy".

Number 10 said it would invest in a higher education system committed to widening participation.


Yeah, like the currently widened participation has been such a roaring success...
This signals the final destruction of any hint of the universities having any remit beyond that of make money and produce worker drones for companies.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-06 22:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think New Labour basically had the right idea. The Party Neil Kinnock led was completely unelectable; it needed repositioning, rebranding. It needed some tough decisions. John Smith was among the best of his generation, but he was still Old Labour and if he'd lived I don't think the repositioning would have gone far enough. For good or ill, it needed Blair and Brown and Mandelson, and yes, even Campbell, to make those tough decisions. And they worked. I can't have been alone watching Blair and Cherie walking from Westminster to Downing Street and feeling as if we were coming out of a great fog. We didn't realise it was all a con.
Blunkett is a case in point. He was, and remains, a well-regarded MP in Sheffield Brightside, a proper Labour man. But he didn't just become right-wing when he was made Home Secretary. The only logical explanation is that he was always that way.
What we have now, I think, is a two-party system, with Labour and Tories simply opposing wings of the same party. New Labour made itself palatable to business and the Murdoch media by becoming more like the Tories, and Cameron is making the Tories more palatable by making them more like New Labour. Eventually they'll be indistinguishable.
The universities have been tending that way for a long time, trust me. This is just the culmination of a process that's been going on at least since I was at Nottingham in the 80s, and probably before that as well.


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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-07 06:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Worked how? Worked in getting them elected. Worked in throwing out 90% of the good stuff in order to embrace things which are so extreme that most of the electorate don't realise they are happening such as NHS and civil service privatisation.

Yes, I know the universities have been going this way for ages, I recall writing an essay on the need for blue skies research 10 years ago in my 4th year. But its sad to see it end up this way, our culture in this country is seriously messed up, and not in the way the Daily MAil thinks it is either.

As I said, 2 business parties. As a raving lunatic stalinist euginicist racist said on one of the BBC blogs, are the media not reporting the BNp policies because they show just how little difference there is between the main parties?

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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-07 14:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yes, it worked in the sense that it brought them into power. After that it was up to them what they did with the power, and of course they abused it. And continue to abuse it. I agree with you that the Tories would be no different. Nor, I suspect, would the Lib Dems.
Gordon's tragedy - or at least one of his tragedies - is that he's desperate to be a statesman, to have historical weight. He wants his actions to have significance that will still be felt in years to come. And he just can't pull it off.
I think the media aren't reporting the BNP because they know they're batshit crazy, the way they know UKIP are batshit crazy.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-07 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think his actions have had significance that will be felt for years to come. Aside from the one or two good things like the minimum wage, the other things which will be bouncing around for years include permitting the banks to wreck the economy, letting the rich get massively richer, making the labour party unelectable again, and damaging the accountability and usefulness of the British gvt.

Huge legacy, just not the one he was wanting to leave. But hey, thats what happens when you lie, spin and lack a map that is abstracted from the territory.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-07 16:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, I doubt whether he wanted to be in the history books in quite this way. It must be destroying his soul. He looked terrible at the D-Day thing yesterday - he was booed by the veterans over the Queen's non-attendance, he referred to Omaha Beach as `Obama Beach.'
Oddly enough, I just saw him at a council meeting in Newham and he looked great. Either he's on medication or he knows something we don't.
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