Boris Johnson: Is this how he looks when he realises he has said the wrong thing yet again?
Do you remember when Gordon Brown referred to “that bigoted woman” after talking to a voter in the run-up to the 2010 general election, having forgotten that he was wearing a microphone and it was switched on?
The recording – and his reaction when it was played back to him in a radio studio – went viral and may well have ensured that Labour lost that election. We ended up with a hung Parliament and the infamous “Con-Dem Coalition” of Tories and Liberal Democrats that created the conditions that are still harming the country – and killing members of its population – now.
Today, with concerns over NHS services and its possible privatisation – by his Conservative party, Boris Johnson was asked about Jack, the four-year-old boy with pneumonia who was photographed by his mother, sleeping on a hospital floor.
And he did this:
Tried to show @BorisJohnson the picture of Jack Williment-Barr. The 4-year-old with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital.
The Tories aren’t putting the biggest-ever investment in the NHS. New Labour did that.
I wasn’t aware of any Bill going through Parliament before Labour let Mr Johnson have his election, to ensure NHS funding above inflation every year – and I’m pretty sure it would not have been blocked by MPs. And there’s no need for an Act of Parliament to increase NHS funding.
(Oh, and Brexit won’t get done because it’s a years-long process, and the Tories won’t invest massively in our public services because they’re in negotiations with Donald Trump, trying to sell the lot to US companies.)
A commenter on This Site’s Facebook page had a better grasp of the situation: ‘You have heard of “Elf on a Shelf” well this is “Poor on the Floor” – vote Conservative to create many more stories like this, and maybe a “Boris Bonus” where children actually die.’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was in Bristol, where he had been greeted by an unfathomable number of supporters who heard him discuss Mr Johnson’s latest foot-in-mouth moment:
The Tories have had nine years to fund our NHS properly.
Who would you trust to make the NHS able to provide proper treatment for Jack, every time?
It’s got to be Corbyn and Labour.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
In a Knesset session, Arab MPs protest against recent legislation that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
If your knee-jerk reaction to the headline is, “They would, wouldn’t they?” then you need to read what follows.
You see, the letter from the Joint List MPs in the Israeli Knesset – who include one Jewish representative – could really put the cat among the pigeons.
It highlights the double-standard of a UK organisation setting Jews above all other minorities – giving them protections available to nobody else – when the self-defined “nation-state of the Jewish people” has just stolen rights from all minorities in Israel.
It highlights the fact that the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism – which the Labour Party in the UK is under extreme pressure to adopt in full – prohibits opposition to Zionism, which is not a characteristic of Judaism but a political philosophy that, as characterised by the government of Israel, is racist.
Where does this put those in the UK who are demanding that Labour adopt the IHRA definition?
Where does it put Gordon Brown, who has put pressure on Labour’s NEC to adopt IHRA in full, “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately”, saying Labour is all about equality and solidarity?
IHRA would grant Jewish people more privileges than any other minority in the UK. That’s not equality. The demand that Labour supports Zionism is not solidarity.
It would be collusion in racism, as the Joint List letter makes clear.
Where does it put Margaret Hodge, who has admitted that the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party is about right-wingers like herself and Mr Brown trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party?
She said: “The problem is that he is the problem.”
Margaret Hodge "suggested that the antisemitism row would only end if he [Corbyn] stood aside." That doesn't sound like someone concerned about antisemitism in the ranks of the party. She also tellingly says: “The problem is that he is the problem.” Ah. So not antisemitism.
And where does it put Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is due to vote in a meeting on Tuesday, on whether to adopt the full IHRA definition, with all its examples including support for Zionism with all the implications of support for racism that it entails?
If it supports the change, the NEC will be deliberately provoking constituency party units that have supported the current code of conduct, which supports the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but omits some examples in favour of explanations that improve on those put forward by the IHRA – removing ambiguities that prohibit criticism of Zionism and/or policies of the Israeli government?
It leaves them up to their necks in the… soup.
If they support a move to describe criticism of racist Israeli policies as anti-Semitic; if they support demands to prohibit criticism of the racist, land-grabbing and genocidal political philosophy that supports such policies; if they support self-determination for Jewish people but not for Palestinians…
They will be worse than those who are demanding it of them – because they will be silencing international condemnation that may be the only way to prevent the name of Palestine becoming just another entry in a history book – and the Palestinian people being the victims of another avoidable genocide.
A political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel’s parliament have broken ranks with fellow legislators to announce their support for Jeremy Corbyn.
In a letter to the Guardian, the Knesset members said they commended the Labour leader for “his long-standing solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people”.
They added: “We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”
“As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support,” said the group, which includes the deputy speaker, Ahmad Tibi. But they added that the definition of antisemitism “goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism”.
Arab and other minorities in Israel have felt under threat after the Knesset passed a law in July declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination, encouraging Jewish settlement, and downgrading the status of the Arabic language.
The Joint List letter said Palestinian citizens of Israel have “yet to experience a single day of equality”, adding that millions more in the West Bank live under occupation and “under siege in the Gaza Strip”.
“Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight,” it said. “With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever.”
Gordon Brown during his speech at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Image: John Stillwell/PA
At first, it seemed that Gorden Brown had agreed with Tony Blair for the first time in more than a decade – over the threat to neoliberal New Labour Blairites posed by Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course the other architect of New Labour was going to speak up against Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature to lead the Labour Party. Brown is almost as right-wing as Blair.
It doesn’t stop them both being on the wrong side of history.
The joy of Brown’s speech is that much of it was non-specific. He didn’t refer to any of the candidates by name, and advised that Labour must be “credible, radical, sustainable and electable to help people out of poverty, and that anger was not enough” (according to The Guardian).
Nobody would disagree with that, and Corbyn supporters would argue that the only candidate endorsed by such a statement was theirs; Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – by embracing the nonsense of austerity economics – will only make poverty worse while enriching those who already have enough.
The Guardian article continues: “In a clear reference to Corbyn, he said there was one camp whose own supporters even did not believe their candidate would win the next election” – but this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the others, whose policies (along with Brown’s own) have already lost not just one election but two.
“Brown said he was heartbroken and the party grieving after the general election defeat in May, but that it would be ‘even worse if we leave ourselves powerless to do anything about it’” – powerless as the party would be under a Burnham, a Cooper or a Kendall, whose policies would be so close to those of the Conservatives that the electorate would give up on any possibility of opposition and leave the Tories to it?
“Analysing some of the reasons people may have turned to Corbyn’s left-wing politics, he said people were feeling insecure about globalisation, which had left people ‘uncertain and unmoored’ and turned people to nationalism in countries from Greece to Scotland”. This was a clear miss. People aren’t insecure about globalisation; they know for a fact that it represents an attack on their wealth, security and well-being.
Globalisation helps the rich to get richer and pushes the poor down – the behaviour of the European Union over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership tells us all we need to know about it.
Attacking Corbyn’s foreign policy, Brown said: “Don’t tell me that we can do much for the poor of the world if the alliances we favour most are with Hezbollah, Hamas, Chávez’s successor in Venezuela and Putin’s totalitarian Russia.”
This is a deliberate attempt at disinformation. Corbyn has not indicated agreement with the views of any of those people or organisations. Instead, Corbyn is far more likely to put forward policy agreeing with Brown’s claim that Labour should form progressive alliances, especially within Europe, against “illiberalism, totalitarianism, antisemitism, racism and the extremisms of prejudice”.
Brown’s claim that it is “not an abandonment of principles to seek power” and that Labour members should see their vote not as a protest but a “public duty and sacred trust” also chimes with the Corbyn campaign.
It is only Corbyn’s opponents who paint him and his policies as unelectable. The wider Labour Party clearly sees his policies as preferable by far to the watered-down Conservatism that people like Brown, Blair, and their supporters like Alastair Campbell, Simon Danczuk and John Mann have been peddling for the last 20 years.
Indeed, the idea that a Labour vote is a “public duty and sacred trust” merely highlights the growing belief among the Labour Party and the electorate at large that New Labour, and Labour under Ed Miliband, betrayed that trust, abandoning their sacred duty to the people in order to embrace the profanity that is neoliberalism.
“The best way of realising our high ideals is to show that we have an alternative in government that is credible, that is radical and is electable – is neither a pale imitation of what the Tories offer nor is it the route to being a party of permanent protest, rather than a party of government,” said Brown, not realising that he had just written off the chances of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in one sentence.
For those who do not understand: The three non-Corbyns don’t have any high ideals. Their alternative is not credible – otherwise Labour would not have lost the 2010 and 2015 elections. It is a pale imitation of the Conservatives and it has led Labour into the twilight of being a party of protest, rather than government.
Actually – are we sure Brown wasn’t supporting Corbyn? The Guardian continues: “People must vote not for the candidate they ‘like’ as they would on Facebook, but for the candidate who can make a difference, he added.” That’s resounding support for Corbyn.
In support of the policies Corbyn opposes, Brown quoted, among others, Gandhi asking: “Is what I am about to do going to help”, and Nelson Mandela saying the yardstick by which he would be measured was the ability to better the lives of all people. Against this, we need set only one of Brown’s policies: Employment and Support Allowance and its accompanying ‘work capability assessment’.
This single policy, begun by New Labour and continued by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition and now the Conservative Government, has led to more than 10,000 known deaths and possibly many tens of thousands that have been hidden from the public. Perhaps Mr Brown should be asking how that single policy was ever intended to help anybody in need.
In the end, Brown will probably be seen as having done more harm to the three stooges other candidates than to Jeremy Corbyn.
Brace yourself for a further surge in support – for the people’s candidate.
This Blog was saying hedge funds would be the main beneficiaries of George Osborne’s cheap and tacky share sale – how sad (in this instance) to have been proven right.
Perhaps someone can remind us all of how well that worked in the case of the Royal Mail?
The Guardian reports: “George Osborne has tried to justify a £1bn loss on the first sale of shares in Royal Bank of Scotland in the face of criticism from politicians and City analysts by saying it was the right thing to do for the British taxpayer.
“The chancellor sanctioned the first sale of the stake in RBS, announced on Monday night, to cut the taxpayer shareholding from 79% to just below 73%. Slightly more shares than expected were sold after the stock market closed on Monday, crystallising a loss for the taxpayer after £45bn was ploughed into the bank to rescue it amid the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
“Around 60% of the shares were bought by hedge funds.”
The shares were sold at 300p – 37p less than they were worth at the close of business yesterday (Monday). The total loss, if all shares were sold at this price, would be £15 billion – £2 billion more than predicted previously – meaning that Osborne really is determined to pile the burden on the taxpayer while rewarding – apparently – the bosses of hedge funds.
Didn’t hedge funds play a part in the financial crisis that forced the UK government to buy most of RBS in the first place?
The sale also comes at a time when share prices are at a low point. Comparisons with Gordon Brown’s sale of the UK’s gold reserves – much-lambasted by the Conservative Party because the price of gold was low at the time – should be inevitable.
Anybody who doesn’t smell a rat probably has their proboscis rammed up their posterior.
Foot-in-mouth disease is on the rise amongst our politicians.
Remember when Gordon Brown branded Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” and sent Labour’s 2010 election campaign into history’s dustbin?
It seems both David Cameron and Alex Salmond are determined to do the same thing, with both uttering extremely unwise comments in front of a microphone.
First, Salmond decided it would be funny to tell a crowd of SNP supporters that he will be writing Labour’s budget (if Labour gets elected) – a reference to claims that Labour will not be able to form a government without the SNP, and to the concessions the SNP would demand in that case. Here he is:
Then Cameron, appearing on ITV’s This Morning, was caught by a microphone after Philip Schofield started a link to the next section of the programme: “Up next, a man who can pinch your wallet, your watch and even your tie without you noticing.”
Cameron, off-camera, could then be heard saying: “Is that Alex Salmond?”
Both comments are despicable.
Salmond’s claim that he’ll have anything to do with a Labour budget was false and designed to lead voters astray. Labour has ruled out a marriage of convenience with the SNP, quoting irreconcilable differences. The fact that SNiPers like Salmond keep harping on about it smacks more of desperation and an intent to mislead.
If anything, though, Cameron’s is worse, as it not only implies that Salmond is a criminal (that’s libel), but also suggests that he would be able to affect any budget set by Labour – and would use it to steal money from the electorate.
They both echo Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” remark about Gillian Duffy. He had met her whilst canvassing for Labour, and simply didn’t like her criticisms so he used those words about her in a car afterwards, without realising that he was wearing a microphone belonging to a TV news service, and that it was switched on.
It’s possible that his remark helped to end 13 years of Labour government and usher in the ConDem Coalition.
Now two leading members of other parties – the Conservatives and the SNP – have made the same mistake.
Will their campaigns be affected as badly? And if not, why not?
Say what you like about Gordon Brown, you have to give him a certain amount of credit for standing his ground.
Despite a constant campaign of vilification against him by the Scottish National Party and its supporters, he stood up and denounced them for failing the Scottish people yesterday.
In a speech in Glasgow, he accused the SNP of focusing on “the minutiae of Westminster insider politics” with Labour ahead of the general election, rather than “the big issues that matter such as ending poverty, unemployment, inequality and injustice in Scotland”.
He said: “Even if the SNP seem happy to spend their time talking about hung parliaments, post-election deals and coalitions, we [Labour] will spend our time talking about new Scottish jobs, new Scottish businesses and new Scottish technologies, and how we can benefit from leading a global economic revolution.”
These are arguments that hit home. The SNP is currently tying itself in knots on voters’ doorsteps, telling them that Labour in Scotland is a wasted vote, but they should support the SNP in order to see a coalition with Labour in Westminster – that most Labour MPs, candidates and supporters won’t accept anyway.
Still, the nationalist party’s deputy leader, Stewart Hosie, hit back, saying, “Given their toxic alliance with the Tories for the last two and a half years, people in Scotland would be forgiven for thinking that Labour’s focus is not what they can do for Scotland – but what they can do for their Tory allies.”
There is no alliance between Labour and the Conservative Party. Any politician saying that is lying to their electorate. Stewart Hosie is a liar.
As Labour and the Conservatives have been at daggers-drawn in the House of Commons since the ConDem Coalition was formed in 2010, and Labour MSPs are not in any kind of alliance with Scottish Tories in Holyrood, it seems Hosie was referring again to the SNP’s watery claim that the Better Together campaign – in which Labour and the Tories worked for the Unionist cause – is indicative of a closer relationship between the two parties.
It runs against history, logic and sanity, but the SNP is committed to this lie and they’re damn’ well sticking to it!
Not satisfied with this display of foolishness, Hosie carried on digging: “The general election is Scotland’s opportunity to hold real power at Westminster and to deliver on the priorities of the people who live here – ending austerity, protecting our public services and investing in jobs.”
Firstly, the SNP is unlikely to hold any “real power” at Westminster after May 7 because the great majority of the British voting public don’t want it to.
Would you really put your country in the hands of an organisation that wants to weaken it terminally and then split it up?
That doesn’t make sense at all.
Hosie’s claims about austerity, public services and jobs are interesting, if only because the SNP only ever pays lip-service to these subjects. Its main campaigning platform is always that it isn’t as bad as Labour, which is a poor way to seek election.
All Labour needs to do is keep challenging these nationalists – and then pick up on the claims they make. The SNP’s claims about Labour will disappear like smoke in the wind – all Labour has to do is let in some fresh air.
You see, Mr Brown is MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – in Scotland.
Labour is extremely unpopular in Scotland at the moment, where the SNP has whipped up a belief (rightly or wrongly) that the party betrayed the people by siding with the Conservatives – even though, as a supporter of the union, Labour could not do anything else. Mr Brown, who raised concerns over the future of state pensions in an independent Scotland, has been singled out for special criticism.
In these circumstances, will Labour’s London-based leadership really be so insensitive as to ‘parachute’ an ally of the leader’s office into the constituency? This would be someone who is unlikely to bear any resemblance to a traditional Labour candidate, and is more likely to be a privately-educated Oxbridge graduate who has spent their entire career at a thinktank or working as a SPAD (special adviser) for a sitting MP.
Such an appointment would be entirely inappropriate and would signal that Labour is not interested in retaining the seat; the mood in Scotland means voters would take it as an incentive to support another party, most probably the SNP.
It is possible that Labour would leave the selection open to the constituency party, as its declared intent was to take over selections from the middle of next month; again, the course of action that is chosen will determine the response from the local electorate.
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath would be far better-off with a Labour candidate chosen from local residents, with a deep knowledge and understanding of the area and what it needs, having lived and worked there for his or her entire life.
This strategy succeeded with Liz Mckinnes, the newly-elected MP for Heywood and Middleton and should offer the best chance of success elsewhere.
Postscript: Readers are reminded that Gordon Brown is the other recent prime minister who has had a disabled child.
We all know how David Cameron rose to the challenge of his late son Ivan’s cerebral palsy and epilepsy – he used it in a series of photo opportunities and then, after Ivan’s death at a tragically young age, went on to use his memory as a shield whenever his ill-treatment of the National Health Service or disability benefits were raised in Parliamentary debate.
In contrast, Mr Brown chose to suffer in comparative silence. His daughter, Jennifer Jane, died after suffering a brain haemorrhage, on January 7, 2002, just 10 days after her birth. His son James Fraser (born in 2006) was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, but Mr Brown would have kept this information private if The Sun had not published an intrusive report. Years later, he said the publication had left him “in tears“.
Whose behaviour would you describe as more dignified; more prime ministerial; more statesmanlike?
Not lying: Gordon Brown, delivering his impassioned speech to pensioners in Fife last February [Image: George McLuskie].
It is time to debunk another myth that has sprung up about the Labour Party.
Even though it is only the fourth day since the Scottish independence referendum, adherents of the ‘Yes’ camp have been working hard to claim some kind of moral victory, on the grounds that the unionist parties and the ‘Better Together’ campaign lied to voters, aided by the media.
One such claim is that former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown falsely stated that Scottish people’s pensions might be threatened if Scotland broke away from the union. It has been presented as “Labour lied to us about pensions.”
Mr Brown voiced his fear in February, when it was reported in the Daily Record. “You are expecting, quite rightly, that you will get a British pension. But if there is independence, the British pension stops, the national insurance fund that you’re paying into is broken up,” the paper quotes him as saying. The report does not state that he was representing any particular organisation.
It continued: “Brown published figures showing the cash received across Scotland from the state pension, pension credit, winter fuel allowance and free TV licences.
“The statistics showed people in Scotland get a higher share of the UK pot, amounting to £200 more on average each year than their English counterparts – a total of £200 million for the country.”
Brown was said to have dismissed claims that an independent Scotland could make up the shortfall by relying on North Sea oil revenues. ‘Yes’ voters on the Vox Political Facebook page have claimed that Tony Blair took away all Scotland’s rights to North Sea oil before the Holyrood Parliament was set up, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle that part of the issue.
“He referred to a leaked document from SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney that also questioned the affordability of pensions after independence,” the paper added.
The ‘Yes’ campaign published its own claims about pensions, stating: “The Scottish Government has made clear that accrued pension rights will continue to be honoured after independence.
“So state pensions will continue to be paid as before. And so will public sector pensions – including civil service, armed forces, police, fire-fighters, NHS, universities, teachers and local government pensions. Some of these schemes are already administered by the Scottish Government.
“There will be agreement between the Scottish and UK governments as to the exact share of pension liabilities to be taken on by the Scottish Government – but it has repeatedly been made clear that no accrued pension rights will be lost.
“Private pensions will continue to operate as before. The Scottish Government will ensure there are suitable protections in place for final salary occupational schemes.”
As you can see, no mention is made of the £200 million shortfall mentioned by Mr Brown and so there is no statement about how an independent Scotland would cope with it.
On page seven of the document, it states: “The UK Government is responsible for the public service pension liabilities of unfunded public service schemes [unfunded means they are paid from general taxation; this applies to all state pension schemes], including the Principal Civil Service scheme and the NHS Scheme. At 31 March 2011, unfunded public service pension liabilities were £893 billion. This represents 93 per cent of public sector pension liabilities and 37 per cent of all UK pensions liabilities. The Scottish Government currently has responsibility for a small number of public service schemes, which represent less than one per cent of devolved activities. There are clear questions for the Scottish and UK Governments about how these liabilities will be divided.”
The language takes a bit of translating but this seems to be the issue to which Mr Brown was referring. State pension schemes are funded from general taxation, and the amount Scotland takes in pensions means it is subsidised to a certain extent by the rest of the UK.
It seems clear that the ‘Yes’ campaigners had no right to say that there would be no shortfall, if there remained “clear questions” on how state liabilities would be divided.
It could be argued that the statement “some of these schemes are already administered by the Scottish government” may also be misleading. How many readers were aware that this related to just one per cent of “devolved activities”, with the rest administered centrally?
That isn’t all, though. The NAPF document’s executive summary outlines four headline points of concern on which it was suggested that both the UK and Scottish governments needed to provide “greater clarity”:
“Under EU law, pension schemes with members in Scotland and in the UK could become ‘crossborder’ schemes and would, therefore, need to be fully funded at all times. A more demanding funding regime is likely to lead to the closure of defined benefit (DB) schemes [these are private schemes run by employers or sponsors]. At the very least, there should be a grace period (and an exemption) to help schemes manage any transition.
“There remains a lack of clarity about how the regulatory structure for pension schemes in an independent Scotland would work, and how any transition would be managed. Unpicking the current compensation regime would be extremely difficult and require careful management (over a long period of time). It is also likely to lead to substantial costs.
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to the introduction of the single-tier pension provides welcome clarity. However, there remain unanswered questions about how they will manage the abolition of contracting-out. It is important that employers are assisted in managing this process; otherwise there is an increased likelihood of more DB schemes closing.
“While the Pensions Paper sets out no immediate plans to alter pensions tax relief arrangements, a later Scottish Government may wish to make changes to the policy. Such changes would have implications for pension schemes administering pensions for Scottish, as well as English and Welsh, taxpayers. Any complexity in tax regimes is likely to add significant costs for employers and schemes, which are in turn likely to be passed onto pension scheme members.”
All of these had significant cost implications; none of these appear to have been addressed by the ‘Yes’ campaign in its documentation which, where it says anything at all, states only that these matters would be negotiated with the UK government.
In May 2014, three months after Mr Brown voiced his concerns, and six months after the NAPF published its document, UK pensions minister Steve Webb (Liberal Democrat) said that Scottish people who had “accumulated rights” would be entitled to current levels of the UK state pension on retirement, if Scotland voted ‘Yes’.
This was mistakenly taken by the SNP to support the ‘Yes’ campaigns claims about pensions. It did not. Mr Webb was saying that pension entitlement would be unaffected. But – as state pensions are ‘unfunded’ (they come from general taxation rather than a dedicated pension ‘pot’) he didn’t say who would pay it. Decisions on which government would pay that money had not been made. That is likely to have been a highly contentious issue if ‘Yes’ had won the day.
Furthermore, any payout of UK state pension would continue to be tied to the UK’s rules, meaning citizens of an independent Scotland would not receive it until they reached UK retirement age, no matter whether the Scottish government had changed the age limit.
So much for “independence offers the people of Scotland full control over the type of pensions system that they would like to see. It would be for the different political parties to outline their proposals, including the retirement age,” as the ‘Yes’ campaign had claimed.
It seems clear, therefore, that Mr Brown was right to raise these concerns and point out that issues needed to be addressed. It is appropriate to ask whether Mr Webb would ever have addressed these concerns publicly, had Mr Brown not raised them first.
He was not lying to anybody. Labour was not lying to anybody.
After writing that Gordon Brown had, at long last, managed to win a popular vote, Yr Obdt Srvt was branded “a***hole of the week” (if memory serves), but some kind soul on Twitter. At least Tom Pride agrees! Here’s his take on the referendum result:
I know Gordon Brown isn’t the most popular politician.
However, it must be said it was probably the former Labour PM’s last minute intervention which put the final seal on the NO campaign’s victory in the Scottish referendum.
I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for unglamorous, grumpy old politicians like Brown who don’t seem to give much of a fig for PR.
His famously bad temper and so-called ‘clunking fist’ were plus points for me.
As were the facts he was totally unphotogenic, completely PR-unfriendly and hated by just about all of the mainstream press in the UK.
And no – he didn’t cause the global recession and financial crisis.
The clue’s in the word ‘global’.
In fact, in my opinion we could do with a LOT more bad-tempered clunking fists like Brown in parliament instead of all the countless clean-cut, insincere, well-manicured, PR friendly, bland Blair clones that seem to dominate British politics today.
Scaremongering: Independence campaigners claimed Scotland would face Unionist retribution for daring to hold the referendum, if its people decided to stay in the UK. It seems this will prove untrue.
At long last, a democratic vote of the people has been won by Gordon Brown.
Nobody can say this was a victory for David Cameron. Even the Torygraph which, admittedly, has had problems with the Conservative leader of late, had little to say about his role other than to say that he had been humbled by one populist politician (Nigel Farage), and came close to being “permanently undone” by another (Alex Salmond).
If the thought of seeing David Cameron “permanently undone” makes you likely to lose your breakfast (especially if you have a vivid imagination), you probably won’t be consoled by the fact that the Torygraph editorial said the same about Ed Miliband.
It went on to say that Conservative spirits have slumped, and a UKIP win in Clacton could still finish off Cameron as a political force of any kind. Is that really likely, though?
Where the Torygraph comes well and truly unstuck is in its appraisal of Labour (quelle surprise). “We now know that Labour’s wafer-thin lead is good for nothing this far from the election,” it whimpers. Do we? Do we know that? We have just seen a campaign orchestrated by a former Labour Chancellor and boosted at the end by a former Labour Prime Minister save the United Kingdom from break-up. That seems more like a solid endorsement of the Labour Party.
“For all the cross-party sheen to Better Together, behind the scenes, it was a Labour operation from start to finish,” states the Torygraph editorial in self-contradictory overdrive. In that case, Labour’s “wafer-thin” poll lead is not only an accurate representation of British feeling; it undervalues Labour’s popularity.
“The question they must be asking themselves is this: what happens when the British public start paying attention in the last weeks of April 2015? And who do they have who can have the same stabilising effect that Gordon Brown had?”
Gordon Brown was the man who de-stabilised Labour’s campaign in 2010 when he was recorded describing Labour voter Gillian Duffy as a “bigoted woman”! Now the Torygraph wants you to believe he stabilised voters and voting intentions?
Perhaps it’s a sign of right-wing disarray. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going.
But let’s get back to the by-election in Clacton, which will be the next test for democracy in this still-united nation. The Telegraph (let’s dignify it with its proper title) wants you to believe that UKIP might win it, but doesn’t the referendum result indicate that the result must depend on turnout?
UKIP won its seats in the European election on an average turnout of around 34 per cent. Turnout for the referendum was 84.5 per cent. It seems clear that ‘populist’ politicians like Farage can only win if turnout is low and they mobilise all their supporters to come out and vote. It’s the same with any political organisation whose views are seen as (with apologies to Yes supporters) extremist; they rely on middle-of-the-road voters staying at home.
Lately, that has been exactly what has happened – and we have all seen what that gave us.
It seems the tide has turned.
Practical issues: David Cameron has made it clear that he plans to honour promises made by his Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to devolve more powers to Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote. Many commenters on this blog and its associated Facebook page were determined to make the rest of us believe this was a lie; they should be eating their words around now, along with a little Humble Pie, perhaps.
The timetable is swift, with agreement on new powers over tax, spending and social security to come in November and the legislation in January.
Lastly, a note of caution:
David Cameron scuttled out of his hole after the result was decided, to deliver a speech about the future. He said: “We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better.”
Isn’t that exactly what he was supposed to have been doing for the last four years – and making a disastrous, hopeless mess of it?
He reckons his government is going to draw up new powers for Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well, and he has brought in William Hague to oversee the latter. So it’s going to be a self-serving disaster for democracy, then.
If there’s one thing we can trust Cameron and Hague to do, it is flushing our rights down history’s lavatory. For all we know, they don’t even understand the proper way to sit on one.
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