Monday, May 04, 2009

Fortune Favours Brave Chipmunks


"Hazel Blears: Britain's most powerful Borrower. Lives inside the skirting boards at Number 10 where she chews through the modem cables and eats off an old bobbin. Can make a Babybel cheese last for a month" Daily Mash

Wounded chipmunks can be very dangerous animals. Corner them, and they'll fight back. Viciously. The Brownites would do well not to underestimate Hazel Blears. She knew exactly what she was doing when she wrote her article for The Observer. And most people knew she was speaking the truth. Sure, for a Cabinet Minister to go out on a limb like that was extraordinary, but she did it out of pure frustration that things were going wrong and no one seemed to be doing anything to resolve things. She will have pored over every single word of that article. Every dot. Every comma. Every Youtube. No one could have submitted that column without realising it would be like lighting torchpaper. And for that reason it was disturbing to see Ms Blears resile from her words quite so quickly after an intervention from Number Ten. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a humiliating climbdown - it wasn't, but it showed that hazel Blears hadn't thought through her strategy very well. The reaction from Camp Brown was eminently predictable. She should have wargamed her response.

So as she chews her nuts in Salford this bank holiday Monday and prepares to go out on her motor bike, what happens next? Let me paint one scenario. Blears wants to be a player in the post Brown Labour Party, whether it is next month or in a year's time. She'd love to be leader, but recognises that she doesn't have the depth (or width) of support to pull that one off. Unless...

Hazel Blears is not a woman to be pushed around lightly. She may calculate she has very little to lose by speaking out. After the Euro elections she may well decide that there is nothing to lose by being the one to wield the knife. If she resigned from the Cabinet on the basis that Brown is leading the Labour Party to disaster, she's instantly become the focus for people to rally around. The Heseltine maxim that he (or she...) who wields the knife never wears the crown is all very well as far as it goes, but conveniently forgets the 5ft 3 inch high female who wielded the knife against Ted Heath back in 1975. It is her example which Hazel Blears would do well to follow.

Let's face it, Gordon Brown is never going to promote Hazel Blears beyond her current position. He dearly wanted to drop her completely at the last reshuffle but was dissuaded by wiser counsel. She must realise that she is going nowhere at the moment. Which is why she has absolutely nothing to lose by speaking her mind and being a brave little chipmunk.

Time to order a batch of T shirts, maybe...

UPDATE: Tom Harris has posted In Defence of Hazel. Another very carefully worded article :). I also have to say that I have much enjoyed Kerry McCarthy MP's twitterings on this over the last 24 hours. This was a classic...
In café reading Hazel's piece in Observer and failing to see what all the fuss is about .
No, not obvious at all. To anyone. And then later, it is apparently all the media's fault...
C4 News grossly distorting Hazel's article - ridiculous & dishonest editing so it looks like she said using Youtube was 'lamentable'.

Er, that's exactly what she was saying. Because it was.

UPDATE 11.33pm: Oh God, things are really bad for Gordon now. They've wheeled out Stephen Pound (UPDATE: who they are referring to as a"senior Labour backbencher") to man the barricades on Sky News. Luckily I had the sound turned down.

Cartoon Hattip: Adams, Daily Telegraph.

51 comments:

Mostly Ordinary said...

She was interviewed on SunTalk (I think the podcast is still there) where she can across as the most human of all Labour talking heads at the moment.

She has one think most politicians don't have, she comes across as pretty normal.

cmp said...

Actually I don't think she meant to attack Brown. I honestly think she was trying to live up to her 'I'm not like a normal politician I tell it like it is' image. A bit silly in the current climate.

Anonymous said...

I wish people in the media wouldn't use the word "resile". It isn't part of the vocabulary of 99.999% of the population.

Old Holborn said...

I've met her She is a pompous oaf who is desperate to control and licence bloggers. To keep us "on message".
Sod that. She is not a cute chipmunk, she is a parasitical flea

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. You make a good point and a brave case, but are over-looking the fact that she has upset the sorority of Blair Babes, as evidenced by the fact that Harriet Harman $h@t on her this morning, on the wireless..

Harriet's 'principled stand of loyalty' [or coldly ruthless calculation..] will be contrasted with the Chipmunk's knifing.

Like you though, I can't see why Blears backed down - the article was a relatively measured one which, were it not for the febrile atmosphere, would have been ignored as people enjoy their Bank Holiday weekend.

p.s. Still no news on the Beeb of Baroness Uddin I see - I wonder if Michael Crick will get on the case next week. You never know...

Richard Havers said...

She's going to have to do an awful lot of maturing if she's going to be a leader. Actually the fact that she climbed down says she's not....

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, your obsession with the chip(py) monk(ey) is the most astounding thing about you.

Having seen her countless times robotically defending the whole Brown mess on TV, spouting endless words I'd heard a million times before, very like that other female moron Mrs Balls, I cannot rate her at all.

She comes across as the adversorial lawyer she is, willing to spout in defense (or attack) for or against any proposition straight of the lawyer's so-called taxi-rank.

A lawyer, a politician, not a human, and never a statesman, like Mrs T was.

Alan Douglas

Sentient WV : embabil, def : to spout mindlessly for or against any propostition in the hope that the endless stream of words will drown the whole subject.

Anonymous said...

That Daily Mash article is hysterical !

Grex. said...

When is someone in the Cabinet going to realize that a place in history waits for the first of them to grow a spine, resign and in his/her resignation speech put a double-shotted broadside into Brown.

Are they stupid as well as craven?

Dave H said...

"...who wielded the knife against Ted Heath back in 1975."

Thinking of Heath, if Gordon remains an MP after being booted out of No. 10, can you imagine what form 'doing a Gordon' would take?

An obsessive, bullying control-freak would have seen all his political hopes, dreams, and legacy dashed to pieces. What kind of vindictive spite would he attempt against his successor?

Fortunately his loss of influence would mean it wouldn't amount to much.

BTW I loved Jack Straw attempting to defend Gordon by saying the rest of the Cabinet are so utterly piss-poor that, however crap Gordon is, there are no credible alternatives to him.

Dic Dyffryn said...

On the Today Programme on Saturday Alan Johnson described Blears as "a good working class girl" as he sought to argue that she had not really meant to say what she had said. I.e. working class people like Blears lack the verbal dexterity to express themselves clearly, and what she really meant was "Gordon is doing a great job". Patronising, or what? While we've had more than enough PC legislation, perhaps Labour should do us a favour and make it illegal to be "classist", but there again, there's no chance because apart from Hyacinth Bucket, Labour politicians are about the last people in Britain who think it's OK to define people by their supposed social class. When was the last time a Tory described someone as "a good middle-class girl", at least in public?

javelin said...

Three years ago I said on this blog that Johnson was the best man to lead Labour. I thought Browns economic record was pure subsidence and we were just waiting fir the wall paper to tear. I suggested Johnson as he would play well as an alternative to Blair.

I thought you were a little bonkers even suggesting The Chipmunk. Now Labours economic competence us in tatters Im begining to think that Blears is the only candidate with the political convictions to lead the party through opposition in as short a time as can be managed. I think Labour will spend at least 8 years inopposition but that her reformist agenda/tone will minimise this to 8 rather than 12 or even 16 years.

I also think she has more spunk than Balls and the rest of the cabinet put together.

Scallywag said...

Ms Blears quite likes being an MP, being in government and being in the limelight. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately she knows full well that the game is up and that her beloved party is destined for oblivion in the depths of the political midden under Brown's leadership and she doesn't want to go with it.

What else can a girl do but distance herself from the mess that is ZaNuLab's pathetic dysfunctional government. Trouble is that there are a lot of nasty people in No 10 who will now be very unkind to her. The smile will soon come off her face as the No 10pond life start their dirty tricks under the drect instructions of McTwat.

She should have stuck to her guns and not indulged No 10 with a meaningless clarification and allowing the No 10 stooges to appear on TV to tell us all what she really meant. We all know what she really meant, which is, of course, it's time for Brown to go before he's thrown out on his ear.

PIENOMICS said...

These people make me want to vomit.

The country heads down the pan and all they can do is conduct their petty play ground squabblings through the media. Pathetic.

Hazel Blears is utterly useless.

And then we discover that Mr Purnell considers it quite normal to rip off the taxpayer and claim extremely dodgy CGT relief on his house which seemed to undergo an overnight sex change from second to first residence. These people have no morality. They think they are superior to the rest of us .

They are wretched, arrogant and worst of all, incompetent.

And don't get me going on Mrs Uddin and her empty home!!!!!!!

Dick the Prick said...

Hat Tip Reg but if Labour lose - how many Ken Livingstone's does it take to fill a studio?

pete-s said...

I seems to me to be a distraction. No real damage to McDoom, flushed out a statement from the harridan, proposed Alan Johnson as the next PM, otherwise deflected attention from the real turmoil going on at No10.

howard thomas said...

With regard to the comment about Purnell , does anyone know of a government minister who is not fiddling expenses(or claiming within the rules as they like to call it)

Colin said...

The late Gwyneth Dunwoody had blears down to a tee, with this piece of oratory:

"I have been in the House long enough to see the coming and going of many inadequate personalities. I have seen those on both sides of the House who have been promoted for various reasons. I have seen the crawlers. I have seen those who have used sex - there are so many it would take too long to name them. I have seen those whose sexual preferences were of interest to others. I have seen those who demonstrated a great commitment to their own interests, irrespective of the political parties that they were supposed to represent.

"But I have rarely seen a decision such as this, taken with such cynicism and with so little respect for the interests of the average voter. When the secretary of state was seeking office as the deputy leader of the Labour party, she said that people frequently become disaffected with their own Government because they feel that no one is listening to them. Wherever could they have got that idea from? She also made it clear - she told us constantly - that she would listen."

Roger Thornhill said...

I have never understood your feelings towards Hazel, Iain. Maybe it is because you see elements of Thatcher.

HB has been an appalling entity in government. She has routinely and shamelessly bulldozed boilerplate when on the media. He gives misdirection and spin instead of answering questions. She knows she is misleading and goes right on and does it.

Hazel only looks good through the prism of relativism. Given the Cabinet and PLP, that means nothing whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Can't make up mind what the S Pound face reminds me of.Brown/Balls/Pound-another winning team.

cherami said...

Hazel Blears as leader. Now there is a thought to conjure with.

Not as silly as that. After all, Foinavon did win the National I know. I backed it to spite the jockey who had turned down the ride, won an obscene amount of money and instantly gave up betting.

Chris Paul said...

Hazel is pretty normal. When I've contacted her and her brilliant assistant Margaret over constituency matters they have been mostly, almost always excellent.

Gordon shouldn't use YouTube in this way at the moment because he is not good enough at the medium, not because if it necessarily an unsuitable medium for senior politicians. Probably best to leave it full stop, but there are a lot of politicians at this game ... and some will find themselves hoist to smithereens.

If Hazel knew exactly what she was doing Iain - and you think she was slapping Brown about a bit as well as making a point about stalls in Town Centres (perhaps not the best way to make major policy announcements) - then wasn't she being untruthful in her pre-pology to Brown? And just getting another bite at the cherry in her post-pology clarification ... simply drawing attention to the initial whining.

Perhaps all this is some cunning plan to shore up Brown's platform and advance Labour under brown electorally. But having sat at the back of the Progress Rally at Conference in September - passing notes with John Harris - I must say it is hard to credit that. Only two entirely predictable members of the Progress crew managed positive references to the Brown leadership, another managed a slightly snide one, the rest ignored him.

Some looking REALLY, REALLY, REALLY pissed off that Brown had seen them off on that occasion.

Lorna Fitzsimmons was barmier than ever in the chair.

Hazel was lucky to manage 6th of 6 in the DL campaign and if there is to be rock bottom and rebuild, which seems to be her assumption, it is hard to see how HB will personally benefit from that.

She will simply be regarded as treacherous by the PLP and the wider membership. And the Manchester Evening News are today associating her with Graham Stringer as the "manchester rebels". Great.

Thatsnews said...

A very neat analysis of the sitution, Iain.

I must admit I like Hazel. She has a bit of a cheeky grin.

no longer anonymous said...

"Having seen her countless times robotically defending the whole Brown mess on TV, spouting endless words I'd heard a million times before, very like that other female moron Mrs Balls, I cannot rate her at all."

Agreed, she is Labour's version of Comical Ali. On QT she would always spout the government line and never admit that Labour was in trouble or that anything was wrong. If she's had a change of heart now it's to cynically save her own skin.

Grumpy Old Man said...

i'd like to highlight the differing strategies of thw two main contenders for Brown's bunker.

Harriet is jumping up and down with her hand up saying "ME,ME,ME!"
Postman Pat is saying "I am not worthy" and giving a different reason each time, AND HIS SUPPORTERS RATIONALISE HIS PERCEIVED FAILINGS. He could be dragged into No 10 this way. The fact that we could end up paying 3 PM's pensions (full pay) from 1 term in office encapsulates Labour's attitude to public spending.

Thatsnews said...

What kind of vindictive spite would he attempt against his successor?Good point. They'll try to get him a peerage, I think.

But if it is a Tory victory, would Cameron allow Brown to be made a peer?

Hawkeye said...

"So as she chews her nuts in Salford this bank holiday Monday"Is this possible? She has no nuts (being female).

I think you need better phrasing Iain. Now if you'll excuse me I need to go and wipe up the coffee splatter your double entendre caused.

Martin said...

On Radio 5 the BBC gave big nose Maguire and the really really vile Stephen Pound a free go at slagging off the Tories and Hazel Blears.

I had to laugh when Pound claimed that Liebour don't knife their leaders in the back. Really? Tony Blair might have a different view Pound you prat.

But anyone who thinks the BBC isn't biased when two backside licking tools like Maguire and Pound get to slag the Tories off without any counterpoint is an idiot themselves.

Anonymous said...

Surely it's time for a vote of no confidence? Could Messrs Clarke, Byers, Milburn, Gibson and Field honestly vote to say say they have confidence in this government?

Ok, it wouldn't pass but it could inflict mortal damage and bring this sorry government to an end.

jon dee said...

George Monbiot's "Just what exactly do you stand for, Hazel Blears" trenchantly summed up how many,including myself, viewed her robotic obedience to the Labour cause.

However I do feel admiration for her current stance because, as you suggest, she is right.

I worry whether she has the strenght to withstand the negative briefings and possible dirty tricks that come her way.

I hope so, though her swift affirmation of loyalty to the subject of her criticism, suggests otherwise.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You might say their has not been a chorus of approval for the leather-clad lilliputian in this thread.

I can understand why. The Hazel of old was an New Labour speak-your-weight machine; seemingly incapable of talking like the rest of us,merely stringing platitudes together, long enough for the interviewer to get bored and give up. (Clever technique, actually)

She has been mad enough, in the past, to throw £70 million of OUR money to appease Muzzies in fatuous "community cohesion" schemes that did not work and will never work.

"Political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy," Chirps the Chipmunk and continues about Guido:

"anti-establishment" peddler of "vicious nihilism"

So she looks as though she's got it in for us.

Yes folks I give you, your friend and mine, the pint-sized political flirt who will take you nearly all the way and then leave you to a lone J Arthur..(on expenses)

Miss Hazel Blears.

Anonymous said...

Is it absurd to think that this morning's Telegraph lead on Harman came from the Downing St. machine, rather than one of her "friends" ?

Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that the Telegraph has form printing Downing St propaganda.

Anonymous said...

"Hazel Blears: Britain's most powerful Borrower."

Er... surely that should be "Burrower"? We already know who's the country's most powerful (and notorious) "Borrower", don't we?

Gordon said...

Whilst Hazel may be getting some plaudits for her piece, people are missing the point. She isn't criticising any of Brown's policies, merely that the party have been unable to persuade us regular numpties that they are right.

Also, wasn't it Blears who, after Crewe and Nantwich, was on the radio saying "the public has given us a message that we will obviously listen to, the public are hurting and they want Gordon Brown to lead them through this"?? (Apologies if it was actually Harriet but I think it was Blears).

Not a sheep said...

Stephen "Rent a Quote" Pound has been wheeled out to support Gordon Brown; Gordon Brown is now doomed.

javelin said...

I think we have to putthis in the context of the June elections. It looks likely that it will be the worst defeat Labour has ever suffered. I think the important constitutional point is that this will be the first time Gordon has gone to the polls.

IF Gordon suffers the kind of mauling we expect then the UK press and public, quite rightly will ask "What right does Gordon have to govern? After all if Gordon did well in the June polls he would have claimed a mandate. As he will do so badly we should, rightly, claim that he does NOT have a mandate and should (A) not have the right to resign (B) should call a general election in the autumn.

I think asking Gordon to commit suicide is the wrong question in the context of theJube defeat. The bigger, and therefore higher precedent should be to force a general election in the autumn. Again if the public vote so overwhelmingly against New Labour it should be seen as a call for a general election, or at the very least The Conservatives should announce before hand they will ask fir a vote of no confidence if the vote is the worst European election in history.

imbehindyou said...

Although never having had much time for Hazel Blears at least she is the only one who shows some iota of leadership among the rest of the spineless individuals.
It was always going to be a case of who had the stomach to clean up Brown's pig sty. Obviously no one else in the Labour party so perhaps Hazel could be the new broom that deep cleanses this cess pit. Brown is so despised anyone that puts up a fight against him will be hailed as a hero at the end of the day.

Simon Gardner said...

I am not a fan of Hazel Blears. But I do find all the sexism chucked around about her and Harman grossly offensive.

anonaLon said...

Iain,

When are you two getting married?

Just a question....

Childprotector said...

I can only agree with Alan Douglas (11.34am). It is not about the old chestnet of "getting our message across". Blears' relentless on-message attempts to get the Government's message across have done little more than irritate and infuriate. We want conviction rather than fake sincerity and straight talking over pre-packaged answers. Party politicians who so obviously try to transmit a party political line lose most of us straight away.

Kerry said...

I suspect this is what I get for daring to suggest that you weren't the best person to be constantly wheeled out in the media as an expert on the internal affairs of the Labour Party?

To repeat what I said - I did't read Hazel's article as a personal attack on Gordon and neither did the Labour people I've spoken to over the weekend. I thought it was a fairly typical rallying call from Hazel. True, she referred to the Government's 'lamentable failure' to get its message across... it was not a description of the use of YouTube, whereas Channel 4 directly juxtaposed those two words, which I regard as dishonest journalism.

PS Iain, how about replying on Twitter next time?

Flemingcrag said...

I must say that cartoon is sooo.. Old Labour,..this lot, New Labour they don't stab each other in the back..they stab each other in the chest.
Thats the difference between Hazel (New Labour) Blair and Gordon (Old Labour) Brown, his preferred method is the "stab in the back" but, even more cowardly he prefers someone else like Damian McBride or Ed Balls to wield the dagger.
Which just goes to prove that wee Hazel has bigger balls than Ed.

Anonymous said...

Is it time to launch "ChipmunkTories.org"?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the chipmunk is in danger and everything possible must be done in terms of protection.
I know it's a long shot but does anyone have a photo of the chipmunnk standing next to the Member for Shrewsbury?

The Grim Reaper said...

She's more like a flea than a chipmunk - bloody annoying and next to impossible to get rid of.

Scalywag said...

Stephen Pound is really a parrot...

Anonymous said...

Have passed on your remarks to my parrot and he intends to sue!No self respecting parrot is going to put up with such odious comparisons.

trevorsden said...

"But I do find all the sexism chucked around about her and Harman grossly offensive."

Ha ! What sexism?

Is saying she is a pillock sexist? Just look at what people say about Pound. You would never guess Labour characterised Thatcher as 'strident' and schoolmistressy.

Meantime all the usual suspects are now busy saying how wonderful Brown is.

So thats all right then.

David Hughes said...

You hit it right on the nail, matey - she's a good outside bet for the leadership post Incapability Brown. When I say good, I mean the odds, not the ability !
She may have resiled over her comments but that means nothing - they are out there in the public domain. They cannot be removed - she knew exactly what she was doing.
As did the rest.

The Grim Reaper said...

Flemingcrag said "Which just goes to prove that wee Hazel has bigger balls than Ed."

Yes, but it would have been extremely cruel to christen a child Ed Vagina, wouldn't it?

Old Holborn said...

Oh God, Kerry McCarthy, MP (Lab) for Mogadishu East has turned up. I warned you about her Iain. The only vegan in world history to vote for nuclear weapons and a Stasi Database.

Kerry is classic ZanuLabour. She will do ANYTHING (and I have photo's to prove it) to climb the greasy pole towards Junior Minister. Ask her why she was in the States campigning for Obama in Florida last year, I dare you.