Friday, June 05, 2009

The Consequences of the Disappearing Chipmunk

Knock Knock
Who's There?
Hazel Who?
That's politics
They say a week is a long time in politics. In the modern media age, I think we can reduce that to an hour. Hazel Blears resigned on Wednesday, but less than three days later she is already the forgotten woman of British politics. I had thought she might play the Geoffrey Howe role, but if she made a resignation statement on Monday she would be saying nothing that hadn't been said by others over the last 24 hours. In truth, the glut of Cabinet departures today has almost devalued the word 'resignation'.
If I had said to you on the blog at 9am today that four more cabinet ministers (or is it 5 - I am punch drunk) would have resigned by the end of the day, together with several Ministers of State, and then I said to you that the Prime Minister was still in his job, you'd have thought I'd have finally cracked. If I then told you that not only that, but that he had held a press conference in which he had lied about his intentions towards his chancellor, had convinced himself that his reshuffle was a perfect example of its kind and that all he really needed to do was get on with the job, you'd have been on to the Priory and asking Susan Boyle to swap beds with me.
But that's the situation we are in. And it's the very uncomfortable situation Labour MPs find themselves in. As I write this in the BBC newsroom at Millbank I can hear lots of chatter about the likelihood of enough Labour backbenchers calling on Brown to go to force a contest. Somehow, I have my doubts.


Anonymous said...

For some reason Sky now have their heads further up Gordon's jaxy than even the BBC. Mind you at this rate Boulton and his chums could all end up with peerages and in the cabinet.

Oliver Drew said...

Yes. Today has been unreal. We now have 21% of the cabinet being unelected members of the House of "Lords" -

That alone shows that it's time for a change - Fully elected House of Lords for me (along with a point) -

The Grim Reaper said...

Gordon Brown has completely shot himself in the foot with his disgraceful treatment of Alistair Darling in the last few days. It would now be entirely understandable if Darling spent the weekend helping the PM's many enemies to undermine him. Brown certainly doesn't know how to make any friends, does he?

Daniel1979 said...

there is a grudging praise on the News Channels, possibly because of the ratings and the prospect of another (few) sensational days to follow.

SKY had a +/- graphic today which measured gains & losses between 300+ & 300-, and suggested that -250 would be meltdown for Brown today... they ended up on -305...-5 beyond even Sky News' early reckoning.

Craig said...

On the subject of unelected ministers, how much does alan sugar get from the beeb? How does that effect the independence of the beeb if they are giving Millions of pounds and hours of airtime to labour party ministers?

Anonymous said...

It will not happen.

They will have been 'Mandelsoned' over the weekend.

And if that hasn't scared them he will be certain to show up at the Monday evening meeting Caroline Flint is scheduling [with Woolas ?] with his heavies and the old 'We know where you live' menacing routine..

Anonymous said...

Indeed, and somehow I don't see a businessman like Sugar being happy with handing over roughly 63% of his dosh for the government to "spunk" away (@James) - unless he's already like the rest of his government mates and doesn't pay it.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right to have doubts; this tsunami of ministerial resignations seems to have knocked the momentum of the backbench plot.
Brown's tv performance was gruesome but I think he's going to stagger on.

Rather than attacking Gordon Brown I think your favourite chipmunk is now more worried about staying as MP here in Salford, where she's not exactly flavour of the month.

Fausty said...

We have been clamouring for resignations and the disquieted part of the LPP has spotted an advantage in this. They have latched onto it as a means of registering their disquiet.

They know they're on the way out, so they have nothing to lose by resigning. Quite the opposite, they see this as the means of keeping their careers afloat.

I hope their constituents see through this and bin them. ****s.

During the past 12 years, I have privately ranted, incensed by the liberties Labour has taken. Now, I can barely contain my fury.

I normally hesitate to be bileful but this government is rotting the country. I want the b****** out.

Brown is a very dangerous man. He won't go unless he is pushed. Let's hope the Labour rebels do the right thing and send him into oblivion.

Tom said...

That press conference made it crystal clear that Gordon Brown is living on a completely different planet from the rest of us. Still, almost all of the departing ministers are mired in the expenses controversy so in some ways we shouldn't be so surprised. All the same, that still leaves Darling and a shambolic Cabinet completely devoid of talent. And I'm not convinced the resignations are over. (Apart from anything else we've yet to see the results of the European elections...)

Anonymous said...

@ Craig

'independence of the BBC'

Oh, if only, rather than a Labour Party mouthpiece.

Anonymous said...

RE: Balls V Darling. Wasn't one theory that Balls would be only too happy to engineer some kind of (fantasy) economic recovery prior to a GE, whereas Darling might have more scruples?

Or will Brown just lean on his polecat mate to do the right thing for the Party when the time comes?

Either way, regardless of how it may or may not suite "Call me Dave" to still be facing McDoom across the dispatch box until the bitter end, I don't facing living in what's left of dear old Blighty by then.

Tom said...

(Not that there was much talent in there to begin with!)

Paul Halsall said...

Are you saying you think Brown might be immortal?

It might be worth someone commenting on how the actual voting figures are not especially good for the Tories.

Theo Spark said...

A total meltdown. Labou are dead.

SHB said...

I've just finished watching the press conference in full - caught parts of it on your show this afternoon - and I am completely sickened by what I have seen.

This can't go on.

I am sure (hope) there are some fine upstanding members of the PLP left and as I see it they have no option but to exercise their duty to the people and to the country and vote in favour of the motion to dissovle Parliament.

They will loose the election, but never forget that the electorate has a long memory and if the PLP, by its inaction, causes us to be subjected to this farce for any longer than we have to, then they will ultimatley end up paying a higher price.

Anonymous said...

When New Labour banged on about reform of the "undemocratic" House of Lords who'd have ever thought that members of that place would increasingly form more and more of the cabinet.

Pues. El mundo del Marron loco.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Knock, knock! There really is nobody there. This is why they can't get rid of Brown. Purnell offered a lead but neither Milliband nor Johnson had the courage to take the opportunity. Anybody who showed signs of stature (and there were precious few of those) were consigned to the back benches long ago.
Fixed term parliaments might get us out of this box. See

Philipa said...

Susan Boyle had the right idea - the nutters are still in parliament.

Jez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If the chipmunk is disappearing from full view, what's the betting no more is heard of the peculiar payment of the cheque for CGT?

In fact this farce has rather distracted attention from the expenses saga altogether. I thought that Darling was having to explain his flipping and the fact that his accountancy charges were met from allowances, yet he soldiers on for the time being.

Mrs Clayton said...

" If I didn't think..." (Gordon Brown))Think what? think that it would be good to foist yourself on a suspecting public and then keep yorself there when it is pretty bloody obvious that the electorate (a word you may be unfamiliar with Mr Brown) makes it clear that not only were they suspecting, but in time loyal generational labour supporters...voted conservative.

"didn't think" is working very well right now don't you think?

Macha Maguire said...

I think we have final proof today that we're living in a dictatorship.... an unelected head of state has just proved that he cant' be removed by any normal means, and that, instead, he can appear on television and spout 'Ministry of Truth' lies, evasions and fantasies that would make Kruscheve look cool, while appointing similarly unelected individuals to cabinet positions.

I despair

Anonymous said...

"Still, almost all of the departing ministers are mired in the expenses controversy so in some ways we shouldn't be so surprised."

But Hoon it seems is being lined up as EU Commissioner! To coin in more expenses and a cushy lifestyle for doing nothing.

So with Darling still in place and Hoon getting a highly paid cushy number -- you cannot say the reshuffle is based around the expenses scandals.

There can be only one reason for Hoon to be continually treated with kid gloves - given his terminal incompetence - he was Minister of Defence at the time of the Iraq invasion. He has got some dirt to dish if needs be.

Jez said...

Where is Blears' cheque? Who was it made out to? Has it been cashed yet?

Clumsy said...

So, Mandelson - completely unelected - has been given a new title which effectively makes him Deputy PM (what happened to Harriet?)...

This is seriously scary, an absolute affront to democracy and should not have happened. I'm really worried that somehow our totally useless PM manages, no doubt using rather 'dodgy' methods, to cling on beyond the deadline for a general election. Either that, or we end up with Mandy being PM even though not being a member of the House of Parliament

I seriously hope that this situation does not come to pass.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely seething at the loathsome Michael White's gross sexism on Sky - describing Caroline Flint's resignation as a 'hissy fit'. Completely outrageous. If he had said ill-judged, poorly timed etc I would have been in agreement but hissy-fit???? Thanks Iain for marking his card... deservedly!

Paul Halsall said...

"Amid the chaos of the Government reshuffle, it's easy to forget that another of Boris' Deputy Mayors is in real trouble.

Ian Clement has had his City Hall credit card cut up after it emerged he'd used it for personal items, including £1500 on a car CD player, a restaurant bill and his home groceries. In a lovely touch, my colleague Katharine Barney quotes a source close to Boris revealing he had "bollocked" Mr Clement."


Boo said...

Have to say I am very impressed with Gordon.

He's unstopable!

That or he's surrounded by pygmies who are unable to finnish of a lumbering sloth

Anonymous said...

I think that we should be thinking about who is being lined up to be the fall guy for the dire local and (probably) dire European elections. Stand up Harriet Harman?? Already John Prescott has fired a warning shot. Caroline Flint and Hazel Blears have already gone, of course. And there is the curious case of the non-promotion of Ed Balls. This feels like the curious case of the dog that didn't bark.... Is he on a promise of something greater? And was Tom Watson's resignation the price of Lord-of-all-he-surveys Mandelson for folding No.10 operations under his ever-expanding wings??

Colin said...

Blears will not be missed by anyone, except perhaps her local branch of John Lewis.

As for brown: I've written here and elsewhere, many times - he's not going anywhere, for the following reasons:

1. He will never, ever voluntarily step down. The man is mental.

2. It is virtually impossible for the labour party to force him out.

3. If, for whatever reason he does go, there will have to be an immediate general election. The labour party can't financially afford another leadership election right now, never mind a general election.

4. The PLP is facing a potential electoral wipeout. The one thing we've learned over the past few days about the scum bags who make up the PLP, is that self preservation is more important to them than the national interest. Turds don't vote to be flushed away...

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think he'll voluntarily step down either. I think he sees the office of Prime Minister as his right, something he was born to do. Look at his initials for example.

The man is delusional, and very dangerous for this country. I wouldn't mind betting he's looking for ways to avoid an election.

Re the new "cabinet" I wonder who will be in Parliament to answer questions on behalf of these individuals - or are we now only being ruled by unelected committee, unanswerable to Parliament?

Anonymous said...

Glenys f*****g Kinnock! And Sugar...both suddenly appointed, unelected, to government - just like that! And the very epitome of sleaze himself, Mandelson is now deputy PM!!! No votes, no elections, nothing! Have I just overdosed on LSD or something? What country is this?!?

For God's sake, someone needs to call an indefinite national strike right now, until we have stampeded this Labour c***sh*te into the ground.
Pardon me, Iain, I know you don't approve of gratituous swearing, but there's always a time and place for it, and if this isn't it, then I don't know when it ever will be...
Fuck Labour!
Fuck Labour!
Get this Labour sewer-scum-shite OUT, NOW!

Duncan said...

If Gordon Brown resigns does Mandy become acting PM? It would explain a lot. Back the man until he gives you the job you want, wait for the inevitable resignation and become acting PM. Surely our system wouldn't allow an unelected person to take that role. But then nothing would surprise me these days. Brown is toast just like toast is Brown. Won't last a week.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain,
Would it be possible to ask a question which might be answered by any supporter of the Monarchy?
If, in the light of the most appalling political situation this country has witnessed for hundreds of years, the Queen cannot or will not dissolve this parliament, what is the purpose of the Monarchy? There are, I am told, at least 2 precedents : one in the UK and another is Australia.

Shug Niggurath said...

Sign up to the call a general election petition:

Call to resign one:

(I never started either, but there really are a paltry number of sigs on these. They should be in the MSM as far as I'm concerned)

Paddy Briggs said...

It’s one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book but it’s true – perceptions are reality because people believe them to be so. I might think that Gordon Brown is a decent man, caring, intelligent and hugely experienced. Just the sort of leader you need for a country in crisis. But that is not how he is perceived by the public at large, by many natural Labour supporters and now, it seems, possibly by a majority of the PLP. So it doesn’t matter whether the attack on Brown is unfair (I think that it is) or unkind (manifestly so). What matters is that nearly everyone in Britain from ordinary electors to highly talented politicians like Hazel Blears, James Purnell and the rest think that he is not up to the task. In the circumstances I regretfully take The Guardian line – Brown should go.