Posts Tagged Gordon Brown

Is Brown a vote winner?

In the last General election, it became a bit of a joke that Tony Blair featured more prominently in Conservative and Lib Dem leaflets than in Labour ones. And Ken Livingstone’s election campaign for Mayor of London similarly ignored Gordon Brown.

But for the Euro election campaign it’s been different. Labour’s election address has a picture of a smiling PM. Labour campaigners were almost too excited when Gordon Brown came to visit Islington this week (yes, that chin-pulling incident was here in N1). Some voters have even had a ‘personal’ letter from the Prime Minister.

Perhaps he should have written instead to the editors of the Observer, the Independent and the Guardian, all of which are now encouraging people to vote Liberal Democrat.

Despite the press and the poll ratings, Labour obviously believe Gordon is an asset. We’ll find out soon if the voters agree.

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£1.3 trillion on bank bailout

UPDATE: in deference to Paul Walter (see comment below) this is the post formerly known as ‘£1.3 trillion we won’t see again’.

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I blogged before about the waste of £31M a day on the useless VAT cut.

Now here’s a piece on how much better the £1.3 trillion squandered by Gordon Brown on bailing out the banks could have been spent – 40 new hospitals, 500 new schools, and so it goes on.

Despite the bailout, the banks are still sacking staff, adding to the unemployment benefit bill and depressing the retail economy. Whereas investing in new infrastructure would create jobs, and give us the money to keep our shops afloat.

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£31M a day – what would you spend it on?

Gordon Brown’s temporary VAT cut is costing us all £31M a day.

For the same money you could buy 31 MRI scanners a day for the NHS. Or 31 new children’s centres.

At £31M a day, that’s nearly £1.3 an hour. Enough for a new adult education centre every hour of a 24 hour day.

Or, as Nick Clegg argues, you could use the total £12.5bn spent on the VAT cut to create 95,000 jobs nationwide.

The VAT cut is a drop in the ocean when retailers are already slashing prices to get the punters in. The Federation of Small Businesses says it’s had no impact at all. This money could have been spent so much better.

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Guardian blog 26 Sept

My latest Guardian blog, looking at pensions, fairness, and Labour’s prospects, is now online.

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A treat in store

More good news for Gordon. I’m sure the photographers are already gearing up to record the happy couple.

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More blues for Brown

With friends like this, it’s not a great week for the Prime Minister.

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Clauses vs causes


Today the EU Reform treaty was signed by all the EU heads of government – kind of. Gordon Brown signed by himself after the group celebrations this morning, presumably hoping distance would lend enchantment to the view.

What Gordon may think is nifty footwork just looks inept to everyone else. Unlike our own Vince Cable, I can’t see the PM making a success of Strictly Come Dancing.

He had a clear choice; sign up with pride, trumpet his ‘red lines’ and make the British case for Europe. Or say ‘I want no part of this’, and refuse to sign. Signing up furtively achieves nothing.

If the treaty turns out to be bad news, Gordon Brown will still be responsible for signing us up to it; if it’s a success he’s airbrushed himself out of the historic photos. Unless he’s planning to do a Purnell, of course…..

The debate over a European treaty referendum rumbles on. I think debates over clauses mask the real issue. Section 28 wasn’t really about the curriculum; it was the last gasp of the homophobes. Clause 4 in the Labour party wasn’t just about economic policy; it was the last gasp of old socialism. If we are to have a referendum – as we should – then let’s have it on the real issue: Europe in or out.

Just because the Prime Minister is coy about where he stands on Europe, that’s no reason to deny we citizens our say.

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Who’s sorry now?

Guardian columnist Michael White reports Labour MP Emily Thornberry telling Gordon Brown: “For God’s sake, stop apologising.” Some might feel that Gordon’s still got a lot to apologise for….

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PPP: petitions, pizza & politics


Tonight was Islington Lib Dems’ Pizza & Politics; this month our guest speaker was James Graham, the leading Lib Dem blogger. James talked about blogging, the leadership election and the challenges facing the party over the next few months. The pizza inspired a culinary motif, with James floating the idea of ‘slow politics’ (as in ‘slow food’) where we spend more time developing and involving people in campaigns. But he also praised Vince Cable’s skill as acting Leader, which has shown the best kind of opportunism in reacting to the news of the day. And we also touched on speeding up the stodgy policy-making process. So faster politics has its fans too.

Normally we talk about a specific policy area – affordable housing or access to higher education – so this was a change; people seemed to enjoy it as the pizza eating and discussion went on long after the usual finish time. Plus James works in Islington and has agreed to take a daytime delivery route; now that’s what I call a successful evening.

Before the pizza, we went out petitioning in Caledonian ward, collecting signatures on our latest petition. Since the collapse of Metronet, there’s a real risk that the cost of the failed PPP will fall on the tube users who were supposed to benefit. Hence the petition slogan ‘Don’t let the PPP (Public Private Partnership) become Passengers Pay the Penalty’. The PPP is another policy with Gordon Brown’s fingerprints all over it.

Caledonian is a Labour ward – in fact has always been apart from 2002-06 – so we were expecting to find at least some firm Labour voters. Not one. I think Brown’s strategists may yet regret not having that 07 general election.

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Brown, Benn and the original red Ken

Nick Robinson, who was in the crowd at Islington’s Remembrance service on Sunday, has been unpicking the meaning behind Gordon Brown’s big foreign affairs speech. Private Eye portrays the Prime Minister as a Soviet-style Supreme Leader, and now it seems we have the kremlinologists as well.

Do they find Gordon a bore? I was talking to a distinguished member of the Labour party recently, who confessed that while she disliked what Blair said, she found him easy to listen to; whereas with Gordon she felt she ought to listen but ended up switching off. Many people find all politicians a turn-off; or would never tune in in the first place. For those who are interested we have more opportunities than ever; politicians pop up on YouTube or Richard & Judy as well as Today or Newsnight.

I grew up listening to political debate on the radio, with Any Questions a Saturday lunchtime fixture. On Saturdays, Dad would cook. He’d make porridge, eaten while listening to Ed Stewart and Family Favourites on the radio (Nellie the Elephant, the Wombles and Donny Osmond). Then off to the shops and back for lunch to Any Questions. We listened to great speakers and great characters from Tony Benn to Enoch Powell (Dad – a lifelong Labour party man until he quit over Iraq – would call it Fascists’ Forum), and my favourites Shirley Williams and David Penhaligon. They were never boring. Other regulars included Sue Slipman and Richard Marsh, Keith Joseph and David Alton, Teddy Taylor and Margo Macdonald. As well as the politicians, trades unionists like Jack Jones, Arthur Scargill and Rodney Bickerstaff featured much more than their successors do today.

Tony Benn is planning a comeback. He wants to stand for Kensington & Chelsea; the BBC quotes him as saying, “I believe in peace, not taxing students with enormous loans and securing a referendum on the EU.” Sounds rather Lib Dem to me, Tony.

Both my parents were active in the Labour party and the community, serving as school governors, standing for the Council, and running various voluntary groups. My Dad, Ken Ansell, was ‘red Ken’ long before Livingstone. Growing up in an activist household, I thought being political was normal; by the time I realised it wasn’t, it was too late! Dad served a term on the Council in the 1970s and went on to be a magistrate. How he managed to be a councillor in an age before email and home computers is a mystery. In his working life he was one of the original ‘white heat of technology’ boffins; Dad even knows how to make polonium-210 -something of which my teenage boyfriends were blissfully ignorant.

Now despite being a decade into ‘retirement’, Dad still leads walks, researches the family history, helps run church groups and organises Christian Aid week fundraising. As well as all this, he has always been a great Dad, teaching my brother Phil and me how to swim, cycle, master maths and move house – and even coping with my early attempts to drive.

Why the trip down memory lane? It’s his birthday today; happy birthday Dad.

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