Saturday, September 06, 2008

Did you miss the Relaunch?

Was that it? This was supposedly the week where Gordon Brown fought back, releasing a series of eye-catching policies that put the government back onto the political offensive and started to rebuild trust and support among the electorate. Except he didn't. The Stamp Duty freeze was pitched only at the low end of the market and adds up to trivial money against the size of the housing market. The increased fuel allowance never happened. And, er.., that's it. In the middle of this of course Charles Clarke unleashed his broadside and, tellingly, Gordon Brown was only defended by a backbencher, a couple of junior ministers and Ed Balls, a man who would be standing next to the Prime Minister against the bullet-scarred wall if it all were to come to an end. The Cabinet kept quiet. No senior minister rallied to the boss. Not one. Meanwhile the polls stay awful and another Scottish by-election is coming up with even worse prospects than Glasgow East. Then there is Labour party conference where it is already being said that Gordon has to give the speech of his life. Huh? Most people don't watch party conference speeches and even if Gordon Brown makes a good speech it does nothing to change the dynamics of the situation. The reality is that the government is dysfunctional, and everyone knows it. Labour keep giving Gordon brown another month, then another month, to do what? If he could do something then he would have done it by now, unless he is some sort of political masochist.

The question is if the Labour party are political masochists.

UPDATE: After I had posted this I came across and article that puts me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Polly Toynbee. Or maybe it puts her in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with me...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

'Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are'

So says Charles Clarke in the New Statesman, where he delivers a devastating critique of Brown's henchmen's use of the word 'Blairite' to marginalise anyone who criticises them. His is one of those who 'fear that Labour's current course will lead to utter destruction at the next general election' and states that 'we will not permit that to happen'. This is fighting talk, but his analysis of Labour's current situation is pretty much spot on. Brown is trying to characterise anyone who criticises him from within Labour's ranks as a malcontent supporter of the former Prime Minister, hoping to capitalise on the discomfort that many in Labour felt with their most successful Prime Minister, well, ever. What he isn't doing is anything to reverse his party's current poor electoral performance and historically low level of support. Over the last few days we saw the much heralded relaunch, which consisted of marginal unfunded support for the housing market that no expert thinks will make a blind bit of difference. In political terms it was like a pebble in a pond: a few ripples and then gone. Labour remain in their hole, with a party conference coming up that is likely to descend into civil war.

I'll get some popcorn in.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Darling vs. Brown

So, it wasn't a grand strategy then. When Darling spoke out he was freelancing, maybe thinking about his place in history, or finally discovering some shreds of self-respect. Whatever the reason, he told the truth as he saw it, for a short while at least. Brown wasted no time in putting Darling back into his box, but no-one could mistake his mumbled retreat for enthusiastic support for the Prime Minister. Of course, the problem with all of this is that the topic of disagreement is the British economy. Brown and Darling rowing about just how doomed we all are cannot but cause a loss of confidence, and that has translated into a mini-run on sterling which may in turn lead to people getting tossed out of their jobs and having their homes repossessed.

Dysfunctional government may be interesting spectacle, but we all have to live here.

The difference between boys and girls

My two small offspring were presented with similar soft toys in the shape of a pig.

Girl's choice of name: Piggy

Boy's choice of name: Lothar, destroyer of the undead.