6 June 2009

Sunday Telegraph: It was the Blairites wot done it

Interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph tomorrow that claims to outline details of the 'Blairite' coup that unfolded over the past few days. 

The main points of the piece are: 
  • The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that they were part of a group of Blairites that met secretly for months and tried to co-ordinate last week’s resignations.
  • Their intention was to force Mr Brown to stand down in favour of Alan Johnson, the then Health Secretary.
  • The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that the group of Blairite ministers behind the plot to oust the Prime Minister planned a “phasing” of resignations after Miss Blears quit on Wednesday.
  • Miss Flint, the Europe Minister, was meant to follow her on Thursday night but held out to try to get a better Government job, leaving Mr Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, to stage his dramatic walkout instead.
  • Miss Blears, the former Communities Secretary, telephoned other ministers to try to get them to close ranks behind Mr Purnell.
  • However, the coup was effectively thwarted by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary.
Take a read here

Over the past few months Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes has been vocal in his criticism of the Telegraph, claiming that the paper has been all too eager to reproduce Downing St spin lines. 

Is this article once again the reporting of spin under the guise of journalism in order to undermine and devalue those who have resigned from Government? 

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A Labour Party we can believe in



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*** Sadiq Khan named as first Muslim Cabinet Minister ***

Sadiq Khan has been keeping eveyone hanging on his Twitter feed as he announces his reshuffle promotion...


The Wandsworth Guardian has the full scoop, claiming that the Tooting MP has been appointed Minister of State for Transport. He has joined the Privy Council and will attend Cabinet. 

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A promotion for Sadiq Khan?

Has Sadiq Khan just tweeted his reshuffling? 

Come back Tony, all forgiven

A new You Gov/Channel 4 opinion poll shows that over half of Labour party members believe that the parties fortunes would be better under the leadership of Tony Blair. The survey also shows that 47% of Labour members would like Gordon Brown to stand down as leader of the party. 
The headline news, of course, is that 47 per cent want Gordon Brown to step down before the general election, as against 46 per cent that want him to lead them into that election.

Most entertaining, however, is the finding that 53 per cent believe that the party would be in a better position "if Tony Blair were still leader"; 19 per cent say "worse" and 23 per cent say it would make "no difference".
Funny little anecdote from the John Rentoul over at The Independent:

As Blair said yesterday, when I went to see him speak at a Policy Network conference on climate change at the London School of Economics, and he came to the rostrum to warm applause:
"Very kind indeed. You obviously don't remember me."
Come back Tony, all forgiven... 

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Latest poll: 7 Cabinet ministers face election wipeout

Tomorrows News of the World will make painful reading for Labour Ministers and members tomorrow, with its latest poll projecting an election wipeout for the party. 

The ICM/NOTW poll show an massive 12% swing from Labour to the Conservatives and projects that the parliamentary party will lose several of its most senior members, including a number from the Cabinet. 

The polls suggest that: 

  • An election would unseat SEVEN Cabinet Ministers - the same as Labour managed to kick out when they beat the Tories in 1997.
  • Chancellor Alistair Darling, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Work and Pensions Secretary John Denham, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and Scottish Jim Murphy will all lose their seats.
  • Two of the new recruits to the Cabinet appointed on Friday - Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne - will also lose their seats.
  • And four of the Cabinet Ministers who resigned last week - Jacqui Smith, James Purnell, Geoff Hoon and John Hutton - also face the chop.
Looking at all three main parties, the poll indicates that: 
  • Labour's vote has dropped by 17%, while the Lib Dems have managed to hold on to their support, falling by just 1%.
  • less than half (46%) of voters who backed Tony Blair in 2005 would vote for Gordon Brown in a General Election.
  • nearly two thirds (58%) of voters in previously safe Labour seats think Gordon Brown is doing a poor job.
  • almost a third won't vote in a General Election because of the expenses scandal.
  • Tomorrow's poll shows that support for the Tories has shot up by 20% in the Cabinet's own constituencies since the 2005 election.
  • Labour's vote has dropped by 17%, while the Lib Dems have managed to hold on to their support, falling by just 1%.
  • Across the country there has been a 12% swing from Labour to Tory.
This will add further pressure on to the Prime Minister; although he managed to avoid the prospect of out and out rebellion on Friday, there is sure to be a spate of damaging Sunday paper headlines - the latest polls, and as I have already blogged, the allegations that Lord Mandelson sent emails stating Gordon Brown could not win an election. 

Then there is the fact that we are still awaiting the European election results. 

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*** BBC reporting leaked two-year-old emails from Peter Mandelson saying Brown can't win an election ***

More to follow shortly...

Hat tip: ConHome

*** Update ***

This is part of the report:-
“..Lord Mandelson does not believe Gordon Brown can win a general election, according to leaked emails published in the News of the World… . Lord Mandelson claims that the Labour Party are lagging behind in the polls because Brown has no strategic direction…He says Brown is too obsessed with celebrity gimmicks over the vital job of saying what he stands for..The Industry Secretary, who is likely to head up Labour’s general election campaign, says “strategic policy formulation” is more important than “telling people you watch the X-Factor.”
- Political Betting 

*** Update ***

Some more details from News of the World: 


But in a series of leaked emails sent by Lord Mandelson, he reveals:
  • Gordon will lose the next election.
  • the PM cannot do "X-Factor politics" of his predecessor Tony Blair.
  • he slams his leadership style.
  • Brown is "complex", unable to hide his insecurities and too self-conscious.
  • voters are put off because they think Brown is "angry".
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Kinnock: Brown should stay for two more elections

Skip to 2 minutes 50 seconds to hear Lord Kinnock stating that Gordon Brown should not stand down until he has won two more elections. That would be in about 2016. 



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Update: 19.5% swing to Labour in my by-election. Best result in country?

Thanks to Tom for his very helpful comment my previous post about the by-election upset that saw me take second place in the Harpenden South district council results.  
I make that a 19.5% swing from Conservative to Labour. Replicated across the country, that would give a Labour *majority* of 443, and leave the Tories with just nine MPs. Depressingly, Christopher Chope would still be one of them.
We can dream.

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This made me chuckle...

Hat tip: Tory Bear

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A depressing sight..

As the final votes are counted, the electoral map makes for depressing viewing...

Hat tip: ToryBear

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Was my by-election defeat the best Labour result in the entire country?

As well as being the Labour candidate for the County Council seat of Harpenden South West, I stood in the Harpenden South District Council by-election; the election was triggered after Conservative District Councillor Stuart Roberts stood down earlier in the year. 

Now judging from previous results in the seat and the County Council results across Hertfordshire there were no expectations of anything other than a third or fourth place finish. 

The results for 2007 and 2008 are as follow: 

2007:

2008:
But I received an email yesterday afternoon stating that there had been somewhat of an upset at the by-election count and that my share of the vote had increased drastically, pushing Labour in to a shock second place finish. 

2009:
The result shows that I achieved a far higher proportion of the vote than any other second place candidate in the district council seat for some time. I received 703 votes, or a 23.4% share - an increase of 527 votes or 550%!! 

OK... now for the minor details of the result. Apparently there was a mix up at the count for the seat; according to my 'election agent' the result was wrongly declared, placing me in second place with 703 votes. However, the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green Party candidates did not protest the result. This therefore means that my second foray in to elected politics (the first being the County Council elections some hours earlier) will now go down as a huge swing to the Labour Party in an immensely difficult election year, thus massively bucking the national trend. 

Did any other Labour candidate in the country receive a similar swing on Thursday? I am going to go out on a limb and say that the result now suggests my District Council election result was the most successful Labour campaign in the entire country (in terms of increase in share of vote). Huzzah! 

(Disclaimer: tongue firmly in cheek!)

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5 June 2009

My election results!

Not at all unexpected, but dissapointing none the less. Slipped from third place to fourth in the ward - a similar story for a number of Labour candidates in the ward. Share of the vote down by 6% on the 2005 election result.

But on a positive note, the last election held in this ward was a by-election in 2008 where the Labour candidate recieved 4.8% of the vote - meaning that I have seen a 1% increase in the Labour share of the vote. Huzzah!

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Murphy RESIGNS from the Government

Jim Murphy continues the spate of Ministerial resignations.

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Flint RESIGNS from the Government

Ruthless timing - right in the middle of the Prime Ministers 'comeback' press conference.

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McNulty RESIGNS from the Government

Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform has resigned.

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Beckett no longer Housing Minister

This morning, while searching the web for information about the reshuffle, I stumbled across Wikipedia's UK Cabinet page. At about 11:30 it showed that Margaret Beckett was no longer the Minister for Housing - yet the BBC is only just now (at 15:45) reporting the news that she is indeed no longer in the Cabinet.

So, who updated the Wikipedia page...?

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Byrne becomes Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Replaces Yvette Cooper who is DWP bound.

More to follow...

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Hoon RESIGNS from the Government

Had been tainted by the expenses scandal, but PM is insisting he is still loyal. ConHome beat the main stream media by a mile on this one!

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Bradshaw is new Culture, Media & Sport Secretary

More details here.

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PM to hold a news conference at 16:00

Gordon Browns positions has improved drastically throughout the day as potential rivals Alan Johnson and David Miliband have been bound to him in the reshuffle. They have been vocal in their criticism of James Purnell and asserted forcefully that they remain loyal to the Prime Minister.

What will he be saying this evening? He won't be resigning. Will he?

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Hain returns to the Wales Office

Hain back in the Cabinet after quitting in January 2008 to 'clear his name'.

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Burnham becomes Health Secretary

Full story here.

Here.

and here.

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Denham replaces Blears as Communities Secretary

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Hutton RESIGNS from the Government

Full story here.

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*** Darling to stay as Chancellor ***

Full story here, here and here.

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Who's done what to whom?

Excellent piece over at PoliticsHome this morning tracking who's doing what in the current chaos.

RESIGNED:

James Purnell, Hazel Blears, Jacqui Smith, Patricia Hewitt, Beverly Hughes, Tom Watson

VOCAL SUPPORTERS OF JAMES PURNELL SO FAR
:

Backbenchers Graham Allen, Barry Sheerman, Siobhan McDonagh

CABINET MINISTERS SILENT SINCE PURNELL'S RESIGNATION:

Alistair Darling, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Peter Mandelson, Douglas Alexander, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, John Denham, Paul Murphy, Jim Murphy

FULL STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT FOR GORDON BROWN SINCE PURNELL RESIGNATION:

Caroline Flint, Jack Straw, Jim Knight, Andy Burnham, John Hutton, Geoff Hoon,Shaun Woodward, Liam Byrne, Ian Pearson, Sadiq Khan, Barbara Follett,Margaret Beckett, Peter Kilfoyle, John Prescott, David Blunkett, Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn

MORE NUANCED STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT FOR PM SINCE PURNELL RESIGNATION
:

David Miliband (no statement personally, no mention of GB)
Jack Straw (no statement personally)
Tessa Jowell ("disagrees but respects")

JUNIOR MINISTERS STILL SILENT SINCE PURNELL'S RESIGNATION:

Nick Brown, Tony McNulty, Stephen Timms, Angela Eagle, Pat McFadden, Gareth Thomas, Kevin Brennan, John Healey, Bob Ainsworth, Mike O'Brien, Jane Kennedy, Bill Rammell, Phil Hope, Ben Bradshaw, Dawn Primarolo, Vernon Coaker, David Lammy, Gareth Thomas, David Hanson, Michael Willis, Rosie Winterton

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***Cameron reacts to Purnell resignation***


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Prescott launches scathing attack on Harriet Harman and Cabinet colleagues

Scathing article by John Prescott over at LabourHome, attacking (unsurprisingly) Hazel Blears, but also Harriet Harman, Caroline Flint and Douglas Alexander.
"But whilst I knew we were short of money I didn’t realise we also lacked the will to fight these elections. The people responsible for this non-campaign – and make no mistake there was no campaign - were Harriet Harman, Caroline Flint, Douglas Alexander and yes, our former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.
I kept asking the party what was the strategy, what was our message, what was the campaign? I became so concerned I actually wrote to Harriet. Her reply was less than satisfactory."
No surprises that he attacks Blears but his venom towards current Cabinet ministers (messers Harman, Burnham and Flint) is quite shocking.

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Alea iacta est

The end is nigh for Gordon Brown.


I predict he will have resigned by tomorrow evening. With suggestions that more resignations are to follow that of James Purnell there is surely no way that the Prime Minister can regain the momentum or authority needed to remain in office.


If a new spate of resignations do not force his hand tomorrow the council election results, a round of vicious Sunday paper headlines and the European vote count will mean his position becomes irrecoverable.


Alea iacta est.

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Early indications suggest low election turnout

Early indications suggest that voter turnout has been remarkably low in the local and European elections.
Millions of voters shunned the last big test of public opinion before the general election, suggesting the main political parties had been hit by a backlash over the expenses scandal.
Despite the sunny weather across much of the country, party officials agreed that turnout in yesterday's European and local council elections had fallen in most areas.

They predicted last night that only about 30 per cent of electors would cast a vote. The results from councils will be announced today, with the European election results declared on Sunday.
Full story here.

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Purnell's resignation letter in full

Dear Gordon

We both love the Labour Party.

I have worked for it for twenty years and you for far longer. We know we owe it everything and it owes us nothing.

I owe it to our Party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may. I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more not less likely

That would be disastrous for our country. This moment calls for stronger regulation, an active state, better public services, an open democracy.

It calls for a government that measures itself by how it treats the poorest in society. Those are our values, not David Cameron's.

We therefore owe it to our country to give it a real choice. We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our Party a fighting chance of winning. And as such I am resigning from Government.

The Party was here long before us, and we want it to be here long after we have gone. We must do the right thing by it.

I am not seeking the leadership, nor acting with anyone else. My actions are my own considered view, nothing more.

If the consensus is that you should continue, then I will support the government loyally from the backbenches. But I do believe that this question now needs to be put.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving.

Yours

Rt Hon James Purnell MP



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4 June 2009

Obama addresses Muslim world

Full transcript of his address here

Watch it here.  

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Boris falls in to a river


Watch here.

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Lane vs. Moses.

Just been down to vote at my polling station and took a little snap shot of my first appearance on a ballot paper! I may only get two votes (my Dad voted for me too. Hopefully.), but it made me happy! 

P.s. I love that Moses is on the ballot. That made me chuckle. I am a simple man in many ways. 

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Who's plotting?

Nick Brown name those reportedly involved with the 'resignation' letter currently circulating the PLP.
"Labour's Chief Whip and close Brown aide Nick Brown has tonight told reporters that those behind the email include Stephen Byers, Alan Milburn, Graham Allen, Graham Stringer, Paul Farrelly."
***UPDATE***
"A source close to Jon Cruddas has categorically told me that any suggestion that Mr Cruddas is or has been involved in the circulation of the letter calling on Gordon Brown to resign is "complete and utter rubbish". The source said Mr Cruddas has been "wholly focused" on campaigning and fighting the BNP in his Dagenham constituency, where he has been on the doorstep all day and for much of the last week."
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Dear Gordon...

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Right, enough of politics...

It's time for a time out from the politics of politics (well, for 24 hours anyway). No blogging on scandal or infighting for the next 24 hours. Instead it will be campaigning, leafletting and door knocking!


Despite the difficulties the Labour Party currently faces the country would be no better with the Conservatives forming a coalition of the crackpots in Europe, or even worse, the BNP being elected to spread their fascist views.

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