But Ashdown was was indeed offered a cabinet post yesterday - Northern Ireland secretary. The Liberal Democrats will be furious about this as it adds further fuel to the Tory claim of Vote LibDem Get Labour.
Ashdown turned it down outright and made it public today before Labour could. Some people believe this is pure political mischief making by Brown. He knew the LibDems would turn it down, but in doing so it would cause them much internal trouble. The Independent reports today that LibDem MPs are furious with Sir Ming Campbell for meeting Brown on Monday in the first place. They view it as a gross political misjudgement. The Indy says...
[LibDem MPs] protested yesterday that a clique of 'elderly Scots' - including Sir Menzies and one of his closest aides Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope - had got too close to Mr Brown and the Scottish Labour establishment. One said: "This report has the distinct ring of truth about it. Amongst all the smoke there is definitely fire." Another warned: "We are steaming about it".
Meanwhile, staff at CCHQ were rubbing their hands with glee.
UPDATE 10am: Sky are now reporting that Ming Campbell did indeed discuss LibDems taking junior ministerial positions in a Brown government, but not Cabinet positions. The man has no political acument whatsoever.
UPDATE 12.45pm: Nick Robinson has a very good timeline on his blog HERE. A perfect example of why journalists should have a blog. He reveals that Ming was offered a series of junior ministerial positions. Instead of turning them down outright, he went to discuss it with colleagues. He then appointed Archy Kirkwood as point man to continue liaising with Brown's fellow Scot, Alistair Darling.
The interesting thing here is that the whole thing is Paddy Ashdown's fault. If he hadn't leaked the offer to Alan Rusbridger on Tuesday evening, the whole sorry series of events might never have come to light. Or at least not in this way, which has been deeply damaging to the LibDems. I suspect Gordon Brown will be grinning to himself over his late night whisky tonight.
Given Brown's reputation for giving people their opinions its impossible to imagine him effectively working with many of his Labour colleagues - let alone another party.
Its a stitch up - the proof is going behind Ming's back. Now will Ming be merciless in his revenge ? ;-)
This is the end of Ming!,and might not be good news for the Conservatives. It may be premature for CCHQ to be rubbing their hands with "Glee".
Paddy damps down?
Thinking a bit more about this ,Brown is clever in knowing that the end of Ming would create a ressurection in the Liberal Democrat Vote moving the vote from Camerons liberal consevatives,so damaging the Conservative Poll lead.
Clever stuff this?
I suppose most people would be opposed to any Peer holding any post of Secretary of State. Ministers must be called upon to appear in the House of Commons when required.
Any Peer who is a Minister must only be a junior Minister. Nobody expects those to be competent or accountable.
Paddy - you're fired.
"Ashdown turned it down outright" Did he? From what I have been reading Ashdown said he would have to check with Ming. Ming said No.
Therefore Ashdown must have been a bit interested or else he would have told Brown to PO.
Seems as though if you dangle a ministerial Jag etc in front of someone they are likely to jump as high as necessary.
Brown stirs it up for Labour.... is my preferred headline.
The Prime Minister elect has been, apparently for some time, discussing both junior & now senior positions in his Government with the opposition parties.
He cannot consult his Cabinet. Did he discuss it widely with many labour colleagues? I doubt it
Certainly an interesting pre coronation tactic.
I hope its a net gain for Conservatives but worst case could be Ming gone - Clegg or other dynamic replacement - resurgence in LD's to 25%+
The remarkable thing about this affair is that the LibDems, for once, have been unananimous in rejecting this "joke" offer from Brown. The particularly hilarious element of the joke is that it was Northern Ireland Secretary that was offered to Ashdown. A non-job. I have written more about this here:
Peter "Seems as though if you dangle a ministerial Jag etc in front of someone they are likely to jump as high as necessary.
And how high for two jags, then?
Still GB has now revealed himself further - as if that was really necessary.
A case study in political kite-flying?
Look on the bright side - it might eventually lead to Lynne Featherstone blogging from the cabinet table...
It shows that Brown doesn't care too much for his colleagues if he's prepared to look elsewhere.
By the way this was in the Guardian yesterday.
Too off beam for Dale's Diary? Phew! that is off beam. Which is a mildly iireverent comment even by my standards.
I agree with JW rubbing hands with glee would be premature. Gordon is destroying the Lib Dems and this will help both main parties. Or as bof2bs says Clegg in - increasing threat to Blues, reducing threat to reds.
Ming will cross the floor. In the end. When they knife him. A few others perhaps. He will not last as leader to the next General Election.
Would the Lib Dem grassroots choose a dynamic Nick Clegg? - Clegg and his Orange Bookers are considered far too right-wing by many a bearded drongo Lib Dem
In my opinion the Lib Dem party could well split along right/left lines, with the right(er) leaning MPs eventually defecting to the Conservatives
I think people are missing the big picture here.
I know that the Tories think that Cameron will wipe the floor with Brown but if I was them I'd be worried.
We know that Brown is interested in constitutional reform in a way that Blair wasn't. Some of the reforms are bound to interest and benefit the Lib Dems. PR for instance. Equally, the Lib Dems are the most persistent critics of the most disastrous new labour policy namely Iraq. If Brown could pull them in he would silence a bunch of pain in the neck critics, potentially unite the progressive left and cement a new constitutional settlement for the UK.
Where does that leave the Tories? In perpetual opposition that's where. A party marooned in parts of England with a dying membership and ineffectual leadership. For one thing they don't do the constitution.
Utter ineptitude on the part of Ming and a disaster for the LibDems. Brings forward the day of reckoning when the LibDems split on Left/Right lines - if Ming quit or is knifed, the LibDem leadership election will be brutal. Hughne going head to head with Clegg in a left / right bitch fight.
So much for the LibDems claim to be a party of opposition, if they have to think twice about joining a government with a 100+ seta majority. Did they really think they could influuence policy through a few ministers in the House of Lords?
They should have and the Conservatives should be asking why the Labour Party with so many MP's chooses to go to another party to fill these posts?
Ah Druid, you are partially right, but Brown and Cameron are locked into mutually assured destruction. If Brown hits the red button marked "PR" that would as you suggest (but without the pejoratives) maroon the Tories is permanent opposition watching a Belgium-like stitch up bu Labour and the LibDems. But wait...Cameron would hit the English Parliament red-button and campaing for an English parliament to remove Labour's celtic foundations......so would either of them press the button?
If the "staff at CCHQ were rubbing their hands with glee" they are not very politically astute (no surprise there then?). Mr Brown can use this low risk overture to steal David Cameron's claim to understand new politics. What could be newer than a big tent invite to another party to share in decision making? Mr Brown has been in politics a lot longer than Iain or any of the youngsters at CCHQ have - nothing he does is without a very well thought out strategy behind it. You're all doomed!
The boy-toff Cameron is doomed anyway. He doesn't appeal to his core-supporters let alone disaffected labour and liberal democrat voters.
"We are steaming about it".
If only David Cameron wasn't so left wing, GB would be offering him a place in the cabinet!!
As for Oliver Letwin, is he a member of militant?
Chris, don't forget that Blair had to perform a similar exercise between 94 and 97; that is, learning to reach out to
disaffected Tory / LD voters in the SE and Midlands whilst not alienating the unreconstructed socialists in grim Northern towns too much.
I guarantee you that Tombstone Tories will grit their teeth and grudgingly back Cameron. Very few are stupid enough to flirt with UKIP; people do generally back winners when push comes to shove.
I think the real test will be whether he can keep the more shrill/idiotic elements of his shadow cabinet quiet enough not to ruin his increasing appeal to moderate swing voters. Hopefully an imminent reshuffle will send a few of them off to the bank benches.
I must say I find all this very interesting. Brown seems to have the clear calculation that destroying or seriously damaging the Lib Dems will provide more votes for Labour than the Conservatives. This may be correct, but he may well find that does not work to his advantage. In Lib Dem/Conservative marginals, the Conservatives will not be harmed by the disproportionate loss of Lib Dem votes to Labour - quite the reverse, normally. In Labour/Conservative marginals, I am doubtful how much further the Lib Dems can be squeezed by the two main parties. In Labour/Lib Dem marginals, he may win a few more seats, but at the risk of letting the Conservatives re-establish a base where they have previously been absent for years. He also risks establishing the Conservatives as the effective home for a protest vote if he does inflict serious damage on the Lib Dems. It seems a very high risk strategy to me.
Sounds like Brown's political cupboard is bare!
He knew exactly what he was doing, appearing to be a 'big tent' politicaian without a canvass.
Those who run political parties are beginning to look for safety. Blair wants a shiny job in Brussels. Brown and Ming want to stop opposing each other.
They can all see that once the Constitreaty is signed, the game's over anyway so they might as well all hang up their weapons and get together for a nice easy run while Brussels takes over.
Do they need voters any more? Not really. They can orchestrate the outcomes they desire with the media alone.
Cameron's not playing to the corruption system. He doesn't quite fit in with the back-scratching ways. He won't attend EPP meetings. He missed Murdoch's annual bash. But he's no threat. With the LD's and Lab finally admitting publicly that they are in fact an anti-Tory alliance, the chances for Cameron are over.
Gordon could retire to Buckingham Palace. He might as well fire the Monarchy next.
iain - dont forget that the Lib Dems were in coalition with Labour up in Scotland.
this just smacks of the Scottish Raj.
i would bet my grandmother that its ENGLISH Lib Dems who are cheesed off.
and one more thing. i agree with John Williams analysis above at "June 21, 2007 10:11 AM".
its a VERY clever move, designed to destablise Mings leadership, and to usher in a Nick Clegg leadership.
Honestly - with Clegg in charge, you can say bye bye to Cameron's "liberal" conservative vote.
Lets be brutally honest here - like America, television swings voters. Who's better on TV? Clegg or Ming?
I dont like this dumbing down of politics either - but i think Blair's televisual appeal had an enormous impact on his 1997 win. The Lib Dems could do a Blair with Nick Clegg - and thereby deny a Tory victory, thus returning Labour to a fourth term.
I suspect Ashdown wanted to take it. His reason for turning it down was that he wouldn't disobey his commander which does not suggest enthusiasm.
Personally I don't think Nazi Ashdown is the sort of person who should serve in any government. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Craotian & Bosnian ex-Nazi leaders & spent the Kosovo war assisting the openly genocidal acts of the KLA. He has less excuse for this than other Parliamentarians since having been on the ground he certainly knew what he was helping.
If being a war criminal did not disallow him the fact that he perjured himself by stating that he had stood on the Albanian border & seen the Yugoslavs clearing specific villages certainly should. It was later proven that the villages weren't visible from there - he promised to return to the court to explain it but unfortunately somebody fed Milosevic poison & he died before he got the chance.
Whatever happens this will hurt the LudDims & make Brown look conciliatory. The only problem could be if he takes to many people from outside the Parliamentary party into his cabinet, as he would clearly like to do, the country may like it but the party won't.
Now what happens if Brown starts talking to individual MPS - not the lefties but the Orange Bookers whom the Tories are also after?
Try new improved "Glee"
Its what Iain Dale rubs his hands with.
The big mystery to me is why did Ashdown leak it, when he must have known it would cause a huge bucket of shit to land on Ming while making Brown look good?
If the Rusbridger leak had been Damian McNasty's doing, we would all understand, but Sir Pad's actions just do not make sense.
what happens to one's MP pension if one were to take a junior minister's job in these circumstances?
PR for instance.
I don't think there was a Labour manifesto commitment to introducing PR so I don't know how Brown could just introduce it unilaterally without a referendum or election on the issue. After all if he was so keen on it why did Labour not introduce it for the 2001 or 2005 elections?
Will Brown offer Blair a peerage?.
And will he accept?
Iain: "He then appointed Archy Kirkwood as point man to continue liaising with Brown's fellow Scot, Alistair Darling"
If the happened to be black or Jewish or homosexual or whatever, would you feel the need to make an issue of it?
I doubt it, so try not to be a twat about the Scots in Parliament, there's a good chap.
England has the Labour government that England voted for - Tony's majority in England alone is more than the total number of Scots MPs of all parties.
Fair point, but Scottishness is an issue in this story. The whole thing appears to have been cooked up between Brown, Darling, Ming Campbell and Kirkwood - all of whom have one thing in common.
Now when the Lib/Dems have a go at labour about the war, Brown can argue he offered a place in government for the Lib/Dems and they refused. Lib/Dems cannot win and Brown has cleverly undermoned them.
He wont even bother about Cameron as he will see him as a lightweight that he will brush aside.
When faced with a controversy or a conspiracy, check the simplest and most practical explanations first.
Brown, simply in order to manage business in a way that he can cope with personally, needs to replace quite a portion of the current cabinet. Some have gone already, some are vote-losing incompetents (e.g. Patsy Hewitt, Des Browne), some are dyed in the wool Blarites, some he just can't stand personally, and of course he will want to marginalise politically whoever wins the dep leader election. My guess is there will be a minimum of ten new cabinet ministers. Likewise, some of the ministers of state will also have to go.
The constituency of MPs he can draw on to provide the relacements is small. There are a lot of failed ministers out there, a lot of Blairites, a lot of people too thick for any responsibility at all. Why do we think of Yvette Cooper as a possible cabinet member? It isn't a matter of awe at her abilities! To cut it short, the cupboard is bare. (It's a problem that affects all governments in the end. Look at the dross who appeared as ministers in the final Major years.)
Brown may very well have been advised that if he wanted competent people in the cabinet that he could actually talk to, he would have to go outside the Labour Party - hence the offer to Ashdown. Everything else that has been said (e.g. the corresponding destabilisation of poor old Ming) is just spice that reduced the downside. But the mother of this issue is practicality.
Paul, thank you for your response. Their acquaintance with one another is certainly relevant, but the fact that they are all Scots is hardly here or there, no more so than were they all Cornishmen or whatever.
Iain, in common with a lot of little Englander Conservatives make the mistake of believing that the Blair government is all the fault of the Scots alone and that they should thus carp on about Scots this and Scots that.
But the fact is, if I may correct my earlier assertion a little, Tony Blair's government has a Labour majority of 43 in England alone - there are only 59 Scottish MPs in total out of ~650 odd MPs (some of them very odd :-) in total, so the idea that the Scots are running England (at least without English democratic consent) is patent nonsense. (Yes, the Conservatives got a smidge more votes than Labour in England, but that doesn't matter tuppence under our electoral system, and neither it should).
Before Iain et al vent, intentionally or otherwise, about the Scots in government, they should repeat the mantra "England has the Labour government that England voted for" several times before proceeding.
Unthinking sniping at the Scots in general (because of dislike of some democratically elected politicians in particular) will hasten the dissolution of the United Kingdom - something for which we'll all be poorer in so many ways.
One last thought, if England independent of the UK and had a Labour government (as would have been the case after the last general election), would the little Englanders nag on about independence for the South East, to get rid of all those Labour voters elsewhere in England?
Keep looking at the relationship between the LibDems and Labour, because neither party wants you to look at what is happening in Europe between now and Sunday.
This has indeed gone well for Brown. He's destabilised the Libs, got credit for open-mindedness and inclusivity, without the inconvenience of actually having either of the silly old buggers in his government.
hasten the dissolution of the United Kingdom
independence for the South East
Two excellent ideas in one post!
Anyonebutgordon 11:45 - I can't see the so-called English Parliament being a nuclear button for Cameron. Brown might shoot that fox by imposing regional government - something that the Lib Dems supposedly favour. Besides I think the English see, rightly or wrongly, Westminster as their Parliament. Finally, don't forget we might get PR in the upper house which could radically alter the balance of power in Parliament without necessarily disturbing the Commons. Just a thought.
Anyway what amazes me is how the Lib Dems are so keen to carry on sitting on the opposition benches. You'd think after nearly one hundred years they might fancy a change. Clearly not.
A shrewd operator like Brown will have seen this coming. Ashdown's vanity was always going to send this one nationwide. Seriously what were the chances of Paddy getting this one, and keeping it quiet.
Ming is just a spectator, and a confused one at that. For God's sake just be nice to him so that we can see him through to the next election.
Brown has miscalculated badly. He has sent one message out loud and clear: he can't win the next election without the lib dems; and that's best case scenario. So now we know if we vote lib dem we help keep New Lab in power. Voters will swiftly realise that a vote for the lid dems is a vote for Labour. Who wants a bet it all backfires for both parties and the Tories will be the winners?
I've blogged aboutn the day I met Paddy Ashdown if anyone is interested.
The Claim of Right, signed by Gordon Brown in 1988, read:
"We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount."
Hattip Tartan Hero
Per electoral calculus
Current UK Labour majority 71 (revised consrtituencies I think)
Scottish Labour seats 41
Loss all Labour seats to eg SNP!
Labour has no overall majority
GB for Britain indeed!
I always preferred GB for UK suitably abbreviated.
Lets get real without Scotland Labour are dead. Remember why they brought in devolution!
If Brown really wants to stir it up, shouldn't he invite 'talented' David Cameron to become a member of the Cabinet..
On second thoughts, he may need people with original ideas...
True Brit, in your analysis of England's Labour majority, you omit to highlight that more English people voted Conservative than Labour in 2005 (60,000 votes at the final count).
England should have a majority of Conservative MPs if there was any justice in the electoral system!
It's well known that Labour constituencies in England are usually smaller than Conservative ones. The population of Conservative seats is growing all the time but the Boundaries Commission is always several years behind the curve.
What does this mean for poor Peter. Don't tell me that he's been snubbed twice in succession.
"Vote LibDem Get Labour" is precisely what thousands of people have been doing in Con/Lib marginals for years. More accurately 'Vote LibDem keep out the Tories' perhaps but it comes down to much the same thing. If I were richer I'd commission YouGov or someone to do a poll about party people most dislike. I'm pretty certain that the Tories would win by a proverbial country mile (and that only Labour and Tory activists would hate the LibDems!)...
Imo it's a storm in a teacup.
Except GB has won no favours (LibDems will now distrust more),
his party will wonder who was overlooked but now will be considered as second best for a job which was going to be offered (anyone for N Ireland?),
and what has GB actually achieved?
Destabilise the LibDems? Frankly I doubt it...(CP wishful thinking)
Why did Brown bother asking in advance? He should just have announced his full list of Ministers once he got in, including both a Lib Dem and a Tory in each department, and said that people who didn't want the job were free to resign.
Those approached need to ask themselves what it is about them that Brown found so attractive politically. The Lib Dems also need to ask this about each of them, as well as what the point of their own party is if it is going to pass up offers of Ministerial office, even including at Cabinet level.
Everyone needs to ask what the reply from Ashdown, never over-troubled by self-doubt, would have been if Brown had offered to make him Foreign Secretary; also, to consider that, just as Sarkozy gave the Foreign Ministry to Kouchner, the only prominent French Socialist to support the Iraq War, so Brown has tried to bring in Ashdown, a pioneering neocon cheerleader from the Yugoslavia days, and who recently surprised no one by coming out as holding the same views on Iraq.
The Tories need to ask themselves why nobody bothered to do try and do a deal with them (although I suspect that that would have been Phase Two, and might yet be Phase One And Only instead).
Labour Party members need to ask themselves why not one of their number - MP, Peer, or able to be raised to the Peerage for the purpose - was deemed capable of doing any of the Ministerial jobs in question, including one at Bevan's NHS.
Labour MPs, in particular, need to ask why, at least where these particular positions (and how many more after this?) are concerned, the man whom they gave a clear run for Leader would rather have a Lib Dem Peer than ANY of them.
And we all need to ask ourselves and each other what we are doing to replace this whole sorry lot with proper parties and proper politicians, speaking and acting for us.
Nick's timeline does not include the phase where the Lib Dem denials were in the form "no Lib Dem MP" leaving the way open for peers.
What Ming is saying today he has stuffed up and being as they are Lib Dems they're all fibbing to cover the layers of misjudgements.
Brown 5 - Rest of the World 0
Chris Paul : Today`s outright winner of The Order of Brown`s Brown Nose Award !
Why is everyone spinning it that the Lib Dems are idiots - what has Brown done to his party? thyere's no good spin there - either it was in good faith, in which case Brown should be crucified by his party, or it was in bad faith which shows what a conniving creep he is. either way I don't see how Brown comes out of it better than Campbell, but ALL the media concentrate on the Ming... Bizzare.
"staff at CCHQ were rubbing their hands with glee."
On which part of their anatomy? Seems to me Brown's idea of cherry-picking Lib Dem peers had nothing at all to do with holiding out any prospect of influence to the Liberal Democrats per se. In fact it seems a brilliant way to divide and conquer and sow division in Lb Dem ranks.
The ghost of Roy Jenkins says: anon. was that posted 'Without Rancour'?
Let them rub while they may - they'll be next.
What if, a week today, Brown simply announces the appointment of, say, a conservative Tory MP and a noted conservative commentator to sit in on each Department, unless they chose to decline publicly that public offer?
Iain, which Department would you most like, and why?
john brown said...
..... - what has Brown done to his party? thyere's no good spin there - either it was in good faith, in which case Brown should be crucified by his party, or it was in bad faith which shows what a conniving creep he is. either way I don't see how Brown comes out of it better than Campbell, but ALL the media concentrate on the Ming... Bizzare.
J'agree -- I think Jimmy (Gordon) Brown has made many more enemies in his own party.
The MSM also seem terrified of him,
His Masion (per Sky)house speech last night started with a joke HO HO about the three envelopes and the new Chancellor.
The clunking fist line was that the third envelope would say "wear a black tie to this event".
The throw away line was -- We do listen....
As usual he wore his lounge suit BUT spin has it that post coronation he may wear appropriate dress on certain occasions.
A complete & absolute tosser.
He will undoubtedly be the worst Prime Minister we have had for over 100 years.
Snafu at 3.33pm: "True Brit, in your analysis of England's Labour majority, you omit to highlight that more English people voted Conservative than Labour in 2005 (60,000 votes at the final count). England should have a majority of Conservative MPs if there was any justice in the electoral system!"
This is what I said at 2.26pm, Snafu:
"Tony Blair's government has a Labour majority of 43 in England alone - there are only 59 Scottish MPs in total out of ~650 odd MPs (some of them very odd :-) in total, so the idea that the Scots are running England (at least without English democratic consent) is patent nonsense. (Yes, the Conservatives got a smidge more votes than Labour in England, but that doesn't matter tuppence under our electoral system, and neither it should).
I think the bit in bold more than covers the supposed omission of which you accuse me! No need to apologise... your embarrassment will suffice :-)
Presumably you mean English residents voting in England, rather than English people, since otherwise your 60,000 votes will be less the one cast by this Conservative Scot!
As Ed (who'll be seeking independence for Edland if the South East ever votes against his wishes!) points out, the electoral system currently favours Labour, but that is our system. 15-20 years ago it was very much the other way round in favour of the Conservatives (I recall by up to 100 seats) - I don't remember much bleating about injustice back then from those of us on the right.
Remember, remember, before you whinge about the Scots, "England has the Labour government that England voted for!" - then get out and campaign for change rather than whinging about people who're just as British as you are (in fact, a damn sight more British than many of those now living in England if it's foreigners that are troubling you!)
P.S. Snafu said: "England should have a majority of Conservative MPs if there was any justice in the electoral system!
If the little Englander tendency do wish to make an issue about the number of votes cast having some relevance to the first-past-the-post result we mustn't forget the LibDims...
The result in England was:
Lab 35.4% 286 seats
Con 37.4% 194 seats
LD 22.9% 47 seats
...plus two 'others', inc. Gorgeous George, a Scot elected by his adoring 'English' constituents in Tower Hamlets.
So yes, possibly some injustice there, but not much that the Conservatives should complain about unless they want the likes of Charlie Kennedy and Ming Campbell holding the balance of power perpetually.
Just remember: "England has the Labour Government that England voted for" :-)
P.P.S. Apologies, a small snafu of my own in the figures above - they should be:
Lab 35.4% 286 seats
Con 35.7% 194 seats
LD 22.9% 47 seats
"England should have a majority of Conservative MPs if there was any justice in the electoral system!"
And what is the Tories position then on getting a just electoral system?
Tories can't complain about what they share responibility for.
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