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  • Lord Levy attacks Brown’s leadership

    by Leon
    27th April, 2008 at 6:09 pm    

    Troubled Brown

    Oh dear it looks like the knives are out for Brown now. Not long after his famous ‘not calling the election’ idiocy there were a few weeks were it looked like Brown was in real trouble. The moment passed, the news agenda moved on…

    It looks like the Brown government is on the ropes again with the latest comment by Lord Levy:

    Levy said Blair still believed he could have won a fourth election, adding: ‘But Gordon? “He can’t defeat Cameron,” Tony told me. Blair believed Cameron had major strengths - political timing, a winning personality and a natural ability to communicate to Middle England that Gordon would be unable to match.’

    Blair’s spokesman said the former PM ‘doesn’t agree with the views attributed to him by Lord Levy and fully believes Labour with Gordon Brown’s leadership can win the next election.’

    Levy’s disclosures will fuel growing panic in Labour ranks, with ministers now openly discussing whether Brown could be persuaded to stand aside if Labour does badly in Thursday’s London and local elections. His prospects were not helped by an oil refinery strike in Scotland prompting panic-buying of petrol and fears of rationing yesterday.

    You can read more about Lord Levy’s comments and watch a clip of the interview here.

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    Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics

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    1. chrisc — on 27th April, 2008 at 6:12 pm  

      Not long after his famous ‘not calling the election’ idiocy there were a few weeks were it looked like Brown was in real trouble. The moment passed, the news agenda moved on…


      He’s been in the shit ever since…and I haven’t stopped laughing!

    2. Leon — on 27th April, 2008 at 6:14 pm  

      There was a period were the polls were still bad but Christmas and the Mayor Election kinda skewered things a bit. Point is there wasn’t as much talk about Brown going until recently again.

    3. Sunny — on 27th April, 2008 at 9:40 pm  

      Hmmm… who cares about Lord Levy now?
      I’m a bit wary of excessive Kerminology and feeding this frenzy about omg Brown is gonna go down any minute!!!! etc etc. Its so media manufactured in the way the “crisis” around Cameron was last year that I can barely be asked to pay any attention.

    4. Sunny — on 27th April, 2008 at 9:41 pm  

      And really Leon, the govt is not “on the ropes”. It would be if there were any serious challengers or chance of the govt being brought down. There isn’t. Lets sound less like Iain Dale, yeah? :)

    5. Leon — on 27th April, 2008 at 10:04 pm  

      Well I admit I’m playing mischief a little but there has been talk (not just in the papers, I’ve heard it myself from a couple of people) about getting Brown to step aside and how to deal with the possible fallout of big losses next week etc.

      As for serious challengers, if the Tories can win London with a candidate like Boris Johnson there’s nothing stopping them taking a good shot at power with a leader like David Cameron.

      I’m sure David Millipede is more than ready to step into the ring to take him on too. ;)

    6. Sunny — on 27th April, 2008 at 10:09 pm  

      No, no and no. Brown won’t step aside and Miliband won’t step in. I heard the same rumours around Cameron in December and how I laughed.

      The media and certain political bloggers on the right love making mischief but its not going to happen. And even if Boris wins it won’t happen.

    7. Leon — on 27th April, 2008 at 10:40 pm  

      December? By then David Cameron’s position had turned around after Browns none election idiocy and George Osbourne’s Inheritance Tax announcement. It was late August to October when parts of the Tories were considering their leader.

      It’ll be interesting to see if Bojo does win, if Labour lose a ton of council seats and what affect that’ll have on those MPs defending slim majorities with regard to how they view Gordon Brown.

    8. Sunny — on 27th April, 2008 at 11:03 pm  

      Oh sorry yeah, whenever it was. Either way, its just silly speculation thats now becoming tiresome…

    9. alan — on 27th April, 2008 at 11:10 pm  

      When I think of all the political obituaries that were written for Tony Blair…

      Eventually they will be right, but it’s not news, just journalism.

    10. cjcjc — on 28th April, 2008 at 8:14 am  

      I thought chrisc might have been missing your sarcasm, Leon. Obviously not!

      Matthew Parris, as often, has got it about right.

      “But those of us who maintain our long-held judgments about Mr Brown’s utter incapacity for office need no more trouble ourselves with wondering what will humiliate him next than we need to study tide and weather charts to determine the moment when the incoming waves will breach the walls of a sandcastle. The castle is made of sand: it will yield. Gordon Brown is a vacuum: he will implode.”

      Brown is of course the Tories’ greatest asset - which, whatever you thought of him, Blair never was.

      The excellent recently made this observation about Brown:

      “For in the year before the “handover” a vast body of polling evidence built up that Labour would do much worse with him as a leader than the party was already doing. The results of the monthly named leader questions, reproduced above from UKPollingReport, were there for all to see yet Team Brown managed to convince well over 300 Labour MPs to give him a coronation.”

      Lots of interesting stuff at thte same site on London Mayor and US election polling.

    11. Leon — on 28th April, 2008 at 10:22 am  

      Yep, if memory serves correct Mathew Parris was one of the first to say (after the non election idiocy) that he thought Brown’s days were numbered.

    12. MaidMarian — on 28th April, 2008 at 11:44 pm  

      The anti-Brown stuff has started to turn into near parody. I rather suspect that some of the antis need to be a bit more careful about what they wish for, but leaving that aside….

      There probably is some sort of Conservative revival going on. I am not at all certain whether it is something that unites the one nation and Thatcherite wings of the party, but improvement is improvement. That however is a rise only from the extraordinarily low base of the late 1990s/early 2000s

      As as aside to this, it is interesting that some comment in the media (albeit implicit) seems to suggest that some good old-fashoined Blarism would be a good thing!

      For all the revival talk though, I am not really getting any sense as to how this is qualitatively different to the Thatcher mid-terms of the 1980s.

      If anything, these circumstances look almost exactly like the Thatcher mid-terms. Losses in local elections, poor opinion polls, hostile press were all features of the Thatcher mid-terms and she won elections really quite easily despite it all. The economy has not disintegrated yet, though reading some press reports one would think it has!

      Too many journalists have simply forgotten what a mid-term looks and feels like.

      To say that Labour is somehow finished (as some have suggested on here) sounds, in my humble view at least, very premature. If Cameron is ahead in the polls, that is hardly due to deep-seated ideological differences between him and Brown that are cleaving votes from Labour.

      More than that though, I struggle to see what the Conservatives would have actually done differently. Certainly hey were in favour of Iraq (till Howard had his spine removed).

      A decent illustration is the credit crunch. I am hearing some fine criticism of Labour but not much in the way of anything different. In other words the polls are not an indication the mythic clear blue water that Blair put between himself and Major.

      Cameron has done OK, but he will have far tougher times than mid-terms. He may well come up with a substantial and coherent agenda, I really hope he does. But what I see at the moment looks like the sort of thing that gets burned up under the scrutiny of a General Election.

    13. Leon — on 29th April, 2008 at 10:36 am  

      Too many journalists have simply forgotten what a mid-term looks and feels like.

      To Thatchers credit she fought and won a leadership election, she then led her party to three election victories. Gordon Brown has done neither, he was ‘elected’ unopposed, he hasn’t led his party victory at a GE.

      I’m yet to be convinced the parallels with Thatcher and Brown are that considered to be honest…

      As an aside it shows how screwed up politics is now that I’m reduced to bloody praising Thatcher!

    14. MaidMarian — on 29th April, 2008 at 11:07 am  

      Leon - like I said, the anti-Brown sentiment has got to the point of parody. Be very careful what it is you wish for! Bashing Brown for the sake of it is not a good thing.

      So what if Brown did not have a contest? The Labour Party set rules for this, he followed them. Similarly, I seem to remember that an awful lot of journos were against an ‘opportunistic’ election. Are elections to be held only when journalists and commentators think that they will get the results they want? For what it’s worth, Brown was right not to hold an election last year for me.

      The stark reality a lot on the left need to get their head around is that if voters (as per the polls) are cleaving to Cameron/Clegg that surely is a sign that they are voting (effectively) Blairite, not for some McDonnell type old Labour party. Galloway/Respect tested the idea that the voters want Old Labour to destruction in 2005.

      I agree that there are few real parallels between Thatcher and Brown, but the way some people are going on is OTT in my humble view. And again, I see nothing in the Conservatives that looks like attracting vast numbers of voters, though again that is hardly unusual for an opposition in mid-term.

      Thanks for the reply.

    15. Leon — on 29th April, 2008 at 11:47 am  

      I seem to remember that an awful lot of journos were against an ‘opportunistic’ election.

      I wasn’t, in fact I was critical of those bloggers/journos who were damning Brown for opportunism over the timing of calling. It was a lunacy, every PM calls a GE when it suits them best (if they have the chance).

      As for all this guff about being careful what we wish for, well it’s not certain Cameroons Conservatives will produce much more than a hung parliament and that means a LibDem king maker, which means PR becomes possible. Besides a slim majority Tory government means they’re susceptible to back bench ‘rebellions’ and campaigns from groups like Liberal Conspiracy!

      (On a more pragmatic note I sometimes think that the left needs the shock of a Tory government every few elections to give it the kick up the backside it needs…)

    16. MaidMarian — on 29th April, 2008 at 1:39 pm  

      Leon - for what it is worth, at the time I thought that Brown should not have called a 2007 GE and I now think that I was completely wrong and the sliver of pro-election comment, presumably including you, was right all along. There is, of course, precedent of changes of PM without a GE - but Brown should have gone for it and put it beyond doubt. I am not too sure what the difference between Brown becoming PM and Major becoming PM is in qualitative terms, but there does seem to be more made of it with Brown.

      I think I agree with much the great bulk of what you say, the only difference really is that I think that Brown should be cut a bit more slack than you do.

      Just one other thought, whenever there has been a hung parliament in the past the 3rd party has always seemed to be in a strong position, but really has always come away with nothing. Your circumstances to me seem a bit of a stretch!

      By way of a declaration, I am no fan of PR, I think it is a good way to give the Ian Paisleys of this world a loaded gun to point at collective heads, but that’s a different story.

    17. Random Guy — on 1st May, 2008 at 10:53 am  

      Levy? Didn’t he do a runner when the whole cash-for-peers thing was happening? Didn’t know he was back….

    18. Random Guy — on 1st May, 2008 at 10:59 am  

      pfft, never mind, shows what I know about Westminster…

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