30 September 2009

Gordon doesn't “cut it” with the locals

Needing a break from all matters Labour, Matthew Parris leaves the conference bubble and takes himself off for a haircut:

What do you do?” she asked.

“I’m a journalist, here to report the conference.”


“You know, the Labour one. The Prime Minister’s speaking this afternoon.”

“Prime Minister?” Er . . . Oh yes . . . Gordon . . . er . . . Brown.” Pause. “Which conference did you say?”

“Labour. You know — the Government.”

“The Government . . . yes. Mm . . . yes. So that’s what it’s all about. Mm . . . isn’t it nice, this sunny September weather . . ?”

Presumably, YouGov must have asked this lady to take part in the latest tracker poll.

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“The Impossible Dream”

Lesley Garrett decided to rub salt in the wound and sing Andy Williams’, The impossible Dream, at Labour’s Gala Dinner last night:

And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

She’s right of course.  Perhaps she was subtly dropping hints that the Labour party should do something about it.

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Mandy reverts to type

Two days ago Mandy apologised to the Labour party if in the past he had sometimes made enemies needlessly.

Following Murdoch’s bombshell, Mandy trotted along to the News International party last night :

Some observers later heard Lord Mandelson tell NI executives in no uncertain terms that they were out of line*. Apparently a c-word was used.  Mandelson has since insisted that the word in question was “chump”.

If he is not careful someone will start calling him a flibbertigibbet.

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The flibbertigibbet bites back again

David Cameron offers his Lordship some career development guidance:

Peter Mandelson should head a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Labour’s years after the election.

Dave, don’t over do it.  You are the Prime Minister-in-waiting.

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Brown’s position has become untenable

First we have The Sun, now this….


Take 12 minutes out of your day and watch the interview.  He calls Adam Boulton a "political propagandist".

Here is the proof that Brown would be a disaster if he leads Labour at the general election.

It is about time the party woke up!

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AJ4PM: A “little local difficulty”

Of course, the morning after would not be complete with paying some attention to the little matter of the Labour leadership.

John Rentoul, our leading AJ4PM campaigner, is in a fiery mood.  He picks up a transcript of Brown’s speech and rightly dumps it into the nearest shredding machine.  Then we move on to the leadership and he is not that happy with Our Man either:

It has been a bad conference, above all, for the Alan Johnson campaign. He said, in a pre-conference interview on Saturday: "I haven't got the ambition, and I haven't got the self-confidence, and I haven't got that real aching desire to lead, which really is an essential quality in a leader". Yes, he tacked on at the end a half-hearted form of words to keep his options open – "I'm not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities" – but he has to want it a bit more than that, because this is an emergency, and because Brown will almost certainly have to have it prised out of his iron grip. Perhaps it would have to be David Miliband after all.

Now steady on.  What does John want Our Man to do?  Behave like Heseltine and put it up there in neon lights that he wants the top job?  No, much better to make a throw way remark that gets buried deep inside an article.

Now, to the wider point.  Does Alan Johnson want the job?  We will know when the time is right, which is not on the pre-conference weekend.  The question has been asked not only once but twice and it is time that some discreet soundings were taken by the initiator of the cunning plan.

Our Man maybe more enthusiastic than John suggests.  He was one of the first out the traps last night after Murdoch’s bombshell went off saying, “electors decide elections not newspapers”.

As to the alternatives.  Neither Miliband is ideal.  Ed is certainly not, as was demonstrated on Newsnight.  If it has to be Miliband the older, so be it.  As the voters have said, “anyone could do a better job” than Brown.  But Miliband against Cameron doesn't sound much of a game changer.

Something has to be done.  If it is not to be Johnson then Our Other Man needs to get on with it before the cry goes out, Too late!

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Murdoch’s dilemma: Tony is coming back


There is a huge assumption with this one.

Tony ‘three times election winner’ Blair is to parachuted in help Gordon ‘never won an election’ Brown.

Why doesn't the Labour party just go for broke?  They should bring the other ‘flibbertigibbet’ back as leader.

That would give Murdoch a few problems.  He would have to start another newspaper calling it ‘Sun of Sun’.

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No glad confident morning

When it is least expected along comes one of those unknown unknowns to change the political whether and move the agenda on.

For that is preciously what Rupert Murdoch has achieved this morning.  In a very significant development, The Sun has derailed “Operation Fightback” and come out for The Tories.  Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun’s influential associate editor, said that The Sun's endorsement was not just Editor's but went "right to the top".

The timing could not be worse for Labour for obvious reasons.  At a stroke it removes the gloss from Brown’s big day and provides the game changing ingredient to the conference season.

Then comes further bad news for Brown.  The vital follow up of having his speech reported as a ‘success’ has failed to materialise.  In the main, the commentators are not impressed.  However, it is the Sun’s thunderclap that will dominate what remains of the Labour conference.

Is it now all over for Labour, as some are suggesting this morning.  Again, we come back to the post-conference polls.  Before we get there the Irish have to vote, which David Cameron has to navigate his way through.  After that we get to the Tory conference itself, where proof must be shown that they are a credible government-in-waiting.

The Sun may have come out for Tories, but that doesn't imply that Cameron has “sealed the deal” with the electorate, although Murdoch has made the task much easier.

The ‘flibbertigibbet’, the description of Cameron that Mandy may well come to regret using, is not there yet.

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29 September 2009

Rupert’s hammer blow

…and so to that press reaction.


Murdoch moves with impeccable timing.

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Mandy ducks that all important question

His Lordship has been interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley.  Here is Andrew Sparrows take on that all important leadership question:

Rawnsley asked Mandelson if it was possible that he would tell Brown to quit in January or February if the polls were bad. Mandelson rubbished the idea, saying that Labour would be far to busy by then preparing for an election.

But then Rawnsley said: "Just to be absolutely clear, there are no circumstances in which you would join other cabinet colleagues in saying 'You have done your best, it's not working with you and we're going to try someone else to avoid a cataclysmic election defeat'?" Someone in the audience shouted no and Mandelson shook his head vigorously, suggesting that this would not happen.

But he did not actually say no. In fact, he did not say anything at all, letting the audience answer for him. A colleague who was watching his face said he seemed quite uncomfortable with that particular question.

It probably doesn't amount to anything.

But, with Mandelson, you never quite know.

Hmmm.  It would fascinating to have this question asked again in a couple of weeks if the polls refuse to move in Labour's favour.

Meanwhile, we await for that all important press reaction to Brown’s speech.

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Will Brown now be our “hero”

imageWe had policy announcements galore, but not much that was new.  It was a speech that will please the Labour party, but will it please the electorate?

Where was the big bang?

Where was the vision?

Where was his “dividing line” announcement?

How long will it take for the speech to unravel?

Did Brown answer the trust and credibility issues?

Has he proved that he can communicate?

And the key question has to be:

Will it change the political whether?

At the end of the day for Brown’s cunning plan to work the post-conference polls have to show a permanent and substantial shift to Labour.

Brown has played his last card.  All he can do now is hope the media report the speech as a “success” and then wait for those polls….

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Alan Johnson’s fan club grows

Our Man did very well on a difficult day and received a standing ovation following his speech.  The quote of the day so far belongs to him when he said of the Tories:

John Wayne in their rhetoric; Woody Allen in their actions.

Fiona Phillips, who induced Alan Johnson, made this telling remark:

He possesses that unique attribute, he is very very likeable.

What can she mean?

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The flibbertigibbet bites back

imageAfter Nick Robinson reported that Brown won't now mention the leaders TV debate in his speech, Cameron said:

I can't work out if he's dithering or bottling, but I suspect both.

The problem for Our Dear Leader is that quotes like this tend to stick.

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Can Brown change beyond recognition?

Following Mandy's conjuring trick yesterday when he created the illusion that the comrades are happy and it will be ‘alright on the night’, we come to the speech that does matter.

There are leaks a plenty on how Brown will now reach out to Middle England after all these years.  Then we get his unsurprising late conversion to a leaders TV debate.  Don’t get taken in.  Nothing is decided and it could all fall through:

Industry insiders admit that prospect remains some way off as Sky refuses to join the BBC and ITV in setting up a negotiating team, fearing that the terrestrial broadcasters will fail to give it an equal share.

But the speech is much more than a headline seeking exercise.  Brown has got to prove beyond doubt that he can communicate not only with the Labour party, but more importantly with the country.  He has got to show that he can do the empathy thingy.  Brown has to look to the future and not bang-on relentlessly that his policies have “saved the world”.

Then we come the higher mountains that Brown has to climb.  Just how will he address the twin peaks of credibility and trust?  Moreover, he got to open up to the country and talk about his failings, which could be a bridge too far.

Overshadowing all this, Brown has to silence his doubters in the Labour party and give the public a strong message about why he should stay in No 10.  No easy task as most have already written him off.

The speech has to be reported as a “success” and not be forgotten when Wednesday's newspapers are thrown away.

This afternoon may not be the definitive moment that seals his fate.  That will come with the post-conference polls and when MPs return to Westminster.

Our Dear Leader has a herculean challenge ahead of him to prove that he can lead as a Prime Minister should.

Brown has already proved he can play the part of Lazarus.  Today he got to do it all over again, after which the opportunity for a repeat performance has gone.

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Shock! Horror! The election will be on 6th May

No surprise here.  Bloomberg has a leaked copy of Labour's election war book, which Iain Dale has picked up on overnight.  This infers the election will be on 6th May.  The report also states that the fieldwork showing Labour in 3rd place behind the Lib Dems was completed on 27th September, not two weeks ago as some have suggested:

CON 36%(-7), LAB 24%(-2), LDEM 25%(+8!)

Obviously, the findings reflect voters instantaneous reactions to the Lib Dem conference.

Our Dear Leader will not be best pleased on ‘the state of the nation’.  More seriously, how is he going to respond to the leak?  Brown can hardily deny that the date is not the favoured option, when everybody knows that it is.

Not a happy backdrop to Brown’s big day.

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28 September 2009

Marr's in a spot of bother


Not only is Marr having rather a rough time down at Brighton, but John Ward, who originally blogged about Brown being on anti-depressants, has said he has no proof.

It would very interesting to know if Marr spoke to John Ward before asking Brown that question.

As discussed, without the proof, the question should not have been asked.

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Can Brown upstage Mandy?


The hall was almost full for Mandy’s rather self-centred speech where he told Labour that it has a fight on his hands.  He is not wrong.

Will anyone out there understand his joke at the expense of Ken Clarke?

I would ask Ken Clarke, but his mobile phone and blackberry always seem to be turned off. Or given that he keeps privately agreeing with me, perhaps David Cameron has cut it off.

Or this:

Not for the first time, Boy George is sailing close to the wind.

But, of course, he was speaking to the Labour party and not to the country.  That is Brown’s job tomorrow.

Yes, it was a good performance with countless sound bites for the news bulletins as he pledged his loyalty, yet again, to Brown.

Perhaps saying the, "British people have their minds on the future” could been more tactfully worded, along with his comment that Kinnock wasn't going to win in 1992.

Was Mandy's speech too good?

The one that has to be remembered as the speech of the week, and reported by the media as the success story that saves his premiership, is the one Brown makes tomorrow.  If the media conclude otherwise, Mandy wouldn't have done his master any favours what-so-ever.

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Did Darling do it for you?

imageThe comrades are hardly spending all their waking hours worrying about the recession.

What did we get.  More Tory bashing, more bashing the bankers and how Our Dear Leader doesn't really need a plane, as he walks on water when he goes overseas to ‘save the world’

Here is Darling attempting to lift the gloom:

If we followed the Tory route now recovery would be put at risk, prospects for growth damaged, borrowing would, in the long run, be greater.

We cannot - must not - let that happen.

Will anybody believe all this return to the ‘Tory Dark Ages’ stuff?

And his cheap shot at Osborne:

There has, after all, been little that is grown up about [Osborne's] performance so far.

Not wanting to frighten the horses we get nothing about the painful cuts that everybody knows will come, only that Labour will make the right “cuts”.  Darling seemed most put out that he even had to mention the topic.

One speech down, and two to go as we patiently wait for the vision and inspiration that will fill the empty chairs.

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Mandy, Mandy everywhere

Instead of green shots, we get his Lordship popping up not only on TV, but on the radio to boot.

We get his criticism of the BBC after Marr's interview, but curiously this only happens on Sky.  He was neither asked about that question, nor did he raise it on ‘Today’.

Mandy gives Cameron extra-time publicity by describing him as a “shallow flibbertigibbet", whilst in the next breath reminding us all how wonderful Brown is:

People like to see a guy who sticks to his guns ... they want to see a Prime Minister who is dogged in that sense.

We need to continue the policies that we're following to fight back against the recession, to lock in the recovery because I think in due course. when the election comes, we will be judged by the result of those policies and I think [Gordon Brown] will be judged favourably.

So, is this it?  Is this what he going to get?

Over next 36 hours Darling, Mandy and Brown give the three key speeches at this conference of the few.   Are we to get nothing more than bank bashing, how Brown ‘saved the world’ and Labour telling us all how nasty those Tories are.

Where is the vision, the inspiration, the optimistism that Labour should be projecting?

Just like those green shots, so far the reasons for re-electing Labour have failed to appear.

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AJ4PM: More good news

imageThrough the morning gloom Our Man receives some welcome news.  Alan Johnson is backed by 32% of Labour activists’ to takeover from Brown.

At this stage only 31% feel that a change of leader before the election will make any difference.

Us AJ4PM campaigners must keep at it.

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“Operation Fightback” kicks off


After resolving one of the ‘little local difficulties’ that comes his way, Mandy was able to join a few other delegates as Brown attempted to save his premiership.

As Mrs Marr correctly states:

The time to rally round has arrived.

One can assume it wasn't just the party she loves that Jackie was referring to.

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That Marr interview: The row starts

Predictably, the Labour backlash towards the BBC has started.

Mandy has attacked the "personal intrusiveness" of Mr Marr's questions:

Based on what incidentally, I haven't the foggiest, and I wonder if Andrew did either.

One Labour source is reported to have said:

No one can believe the BBC, in its flagship programme and the most important political interview at Labour conference, would stoop to this. It was astonishing.

Some at the BBC are far from happy either:

No one was expecting that and I have to say I think it was a bad decision.

There is little doubt Mandy will raise the subject again on Today.  Marr has given him all the ammunition he needs for “Operation Fightback”.

To add to the mix, the BBC put the question to Downing Street two weeks ago and received a flat denial.

Without the proof that Brown is on anti-depressants, Marr was wrong to ask the question.

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27 September 2009

AJ4PM: Still on course

Here are the topline figures of the latest Comres poll:

CON 38%(-2), LAB 23%(-1), 23%(+2)

Cameron’s absence from the media and the recent Lib Dem conference presumably account for the small movement.

What is more significant is that eight alternative candidates would do better than Brown:


Rentoul says it is bad news for Alan Johnson.  That is not so.  Some of the alternatives have no chance this side of the election and others have already ruled themselves out.

Anyway, it is always worth waiting for Anthony Wells on these occasions:

It’s questionable how meaningful the answers are. People probably have a fair idea of what Jack Straw or Harriet Harman are like, they’ve both been in the public eye a long time… but Ed Miliband? Equally, while they may have an idea what sort of chap Jack Straw is, few have any real idea of what he, or any other alternative leader, might actually do were to to become Prime Minister or, to be honest, how they would react to it.

To be frank, Wells pours a bucket of cold water on the whole exercise.

AJ4PM campaign will not have to be renamed.

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That Marr interview: Brown’s health

So, was Marr right to ask the question?

A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of them?

Rumours circulated a few weeks ago suggesting Brown was being treated for depression.  It is an important matter because if Brown is on anti-depressants it could be affecting his judgement and ability to carry out his duties as Prime Minister. (David Owen’s book, In Sickness and in Power, is the definitive work on the subject as it affects political leaders)

For Marr to ask that question of anyone, not least of a Prime Minister, on live national television is ill judged unless there is documentary proof.  To date none exists in the public domain, so Marr was wrong to ask.

Is Brown’s answer to Marr of “No” is enough to close the matter down?  Only if it believed and the subject does not arise again.

For all concerned, it would have been better not to have asked the question in the first place.

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That Marr interview: It raises a wider issue

This is what Marr actually said:

something everybody has been talking about in the Westminster village... A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of them?


No. I think this is the sort of questioning which is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics.

The Times Red Box blog has this to say:

Some around Gordon are apparently furious that Marr raised unsubstantiated rumour - that has repeatedly been denied by Number 10 - in this morning's interview.

This was accompanied by Sam Coates saying on Twitter:

Downing Street source: GB pill popping question "was beneath Andrew Marr's dignity.

So, this kills off any talk that it was a planted question to kill off the rumours that have been circulating about Brown’s health.

Marr was openly hostile towards Brown this morning, which has been mirrored this morning by other interviews with ministers.  One has to assume that Labour's relationship with the Westminster Lobby is in a dire state, which wouldn't have been helped by Brown’s comment in the States:

I think you guys should start to understand how international meetings work.

Whether Marr was right to ask the question will be debated, but there is a more important point.

How are ministers going to get their message across to allow the critical issues facing the country to be debated when such an atmosphere exists with the broadcasters?

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This interview with Brown was a watershed

Wow!  Interviews there have been with the Prime Minister of the day, but never one like this.

Following all the rumours that have been circulating, Brown was asked directly by Marr whether he is on prescription drugs to counter depression   Sweating profusely, Brown replied “no” and then rambled on about his eye sight.  He looked furious.

To put it politely, there will be reverberations from this that will overshadow everything that was said, which wasn't anything new.

In interview after interview Marr has given Labour ministers an easy ride, but not today.  Oh, to be fly on the wall at the BBC this morning.

Place your bets that Marr will not be interviewing Brown again, should he remain as Prime Minister!

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Mandy’s desperate Sunday

Not satisfied with one interview, Mandy has another in the Sunday Mirror.  When all else has failed, out comes the old tried and many failed strategy of attacking the BBC:

Even some of the BBC’s reporting treats Labour as if the outcome of the election has been decided.

With Labour leaning Robert Peston and Nick Robinson doing Brown’s bidding every time they open their mouths, that is rather rich.

Then, we get this further try-on:

He’s a rather formal politician. That’s not a criticism. I think people like prime ministers to be prime ministers – not stand-up comedians.

A “stand up comedian” is precisely what we got with that infamous YouTube video, not forgetting the lack of leadership that Brown continually shows when events happen outside his comfort zone.  That list is endless.

Mandy is going to rather better than this if he wants to save Brown.

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The Sunday papers survey the carnage

The conclusion must be, having read through the papers, that us poor readers suffer just as much as Brown this Sunday.

We have Cabinet ministers falling over each other to tell us the bleeding obvious of just how bad it is for Labour.  They needn't have bothered.  Two further polls do that, but only one gets the attention of Anthony Wells.  Presumably, like the rest of us, Wells has given up on Brown and couldn't see much point commenting on the other.

Tongan Tapui, Lady Scotland’s illegal immigrant cleaner, get her five minutes of fame and neatly applies the shredder to the Attorney General’s credibility.  Who is telling the true is besides the point.  The damage is done.

Then we get to Brown himself.  He is now accused of delaying operations in Afghanistan due to a photo-op.  Then comes the ‘lock the stable door after horse has bottled’ news that he will introduce a ‘Fiscal Responsibility Act’.  All that does is create another dividing line with the Tories.

There is further news on the human resources front, which have always presented themselves as a little difficult for our non-approachable Prime Minister.  Sue Nye, a close aide, is set to leave along with a top Treasury man.  Both have had enough.

It is against this warm-up act that Brown has to dust himself off, put on the false smile that will be used in all the wrong places and face the gentle Marr.  Unleashing Paxman on a morning like this would be a tad unfair.

Andrew Rawnsley best sums up the dreadful position from where Brown starts this Sunday:

To avoid that slide into irrelevance, Gordon Brown will have to do enough to keep his colleagues disciplined and his party sufficiently motivated to believe that they can still make a fight of it with the Tories. He will have to retrieve his dignity, buttress his authority and convince his party, the media and voters that it is not all over quite yet. There is one fragile advantage possessed by a leader who has been so comprehensively written off. He has the opportunity to surprise on the upside. To break out of the spiral of decay in which he is caught, he will have to produce a very big surprise in Brighton.

Even if Brown does produce that “very big surprise” this week, or sooner after the conference, it will make no difference what-so-ever.

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26 September 2009

Mandy’s secret employer and other little gems

Mandy, interviewed by The Sunday Times, is getting all confused and mixing up the future with the present:

In the right conditions and on the right basis I probably would. If I was asked to do something for my country using that asset base, as you say, I’d consider it. But it wouldn’t be serving the government, it would be serving the country and I wouldn’t be doing it by becoming a member of that government… You’re the first person to raise it… It wouldn’t involve joining the Conservative government, I’m too tribal.

Perhaps the poor fella doesn't realise that by supporting Brown he already is working for the Tories.

Whilst on a trade mission to China, Downing Street can’t do without him:

An aide tells Mandelson that Jeremy Heywood, head of the No 10 Policy Unit, is on the phone. Mandelson says: “Not now.” But then the aide pushes the phone into his hands. “When did this happen?” barks Mandelson, presumably to Heywood. He dives into a room to talk.

What was all that about?

Ed Balls undermining Brown on Libya?

He dreams about how Blair would have handled the non-election of 2007:

That was damaging… The assumption was made that [the election] would take place, then it was called off while maintaining the claim that this has nothing to do with public opinion or the opinion polls. It wasn’t credible.

How would Blair have handled it?

He would give one of his impish smiles, suggest it was a tough question, then tap-dance his way out of it.

You can almost hear him add in his mind: “Good times, good times.”

Indeed they were.

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Brown is so perceptive

Brown has started off his few days by the seaside in wonderful fashion:

I really don't think people at the heart of our party are thinking other than we must win the general election.

He’s right.  That is exactly what us AJ4PM campaigners are thinking.

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AJ4PM: A little afterthought on that interview

Not wishing to deflect from what Our Man has said, there is another small bottom of a paragraph comment that is worth noting:

In the words of Frank Field, he is "Postman Pat", the perfect foil to David Cameron's "Eton toff"

As discussed, “Will Frank Field be the man to wield the dagger?

He could well be.

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But, Brighton comes first


After posting about the most significant interview since the millennium, us AJ4PM campaigners have to keep focused on mundane everyday matters.

So the trip is over.  It was hardly the ‘success” that Brown so desperately needed.  The initial  “snub” by Obama will stick.  For once, the Daily Mail sums Brown’s position up perfectly:

The real work is here at home, Mr Brown.

We move on, as we must, to the next chapter of Brown's cunning autumn plan that has so far failed to sell many copies.

First up, we have a poll that means little and says just the same as the last few:

The new poll shows Labour on 26 per cent, the same as last month. The Conservatives are 13 points ahead on 39, a drop of three points, and the Liberal Democrats up two to 20 points.

Mr Brown's personal ratings also remain very low, with 71 per cent of voters declaring they are dissatisfied with his performance as Prime Minister.

Next, we have Prescott launching his full body weight into Dear Harriet, saying Brown is badly advised and everybody seems despondent:

There's too much defeatist thinking. There's no central direction to campaigning.

Oh, there is the boy Balls gracelessly doing Our Dear leader’s bidding, along with other Cabinet ministers.  Then to the warm-up act before the bombs go off in Lady Scotland's face on Sunday.

So, the boys and girls go down to the pebbled beaches of Brighton, where Kinnock secured his legacy by effortlessly falling into the sea, to greet a jet-lagged Brown, who must be suffering from a stiff shoulder after all that Obama back slapping.  What will we get?  A charade sums matters up nicely.  There will initiatives, a few rabbits will pulled out of hats, false smiles, waves for the cameras and much clapping.  There will be Brown saying it all over again to Marr on Sunday morning, with the added ingredient of Iran thrown in to deflect from the non-substantial agreement at the G20.

Then we will get the speech, which few Labour MPs will bother to witness live:

According to several Labour MPs there is likely to be widespread “absenteeism” at the five-day conference, with many colleagues not bothering to attend the event at all.

Followed by the conference dinner that will less than half full:

Labour has sold a mere 330 tickets for its conference dinner in Brighton next week, in spite of booking a venue with the capacity for 800 paying guests.

One lobbyist told the Financial Times.

Our clients certainly don’t want to pay £500 a head for Labour’s last supper.

Nor is happiness a word spilling out from ministers lips.  Here is exhibit one from Andrew Grice:

Labour gathers for its last annual conference before the general election in a sorry state. When cabinet ministers admit that, it must be true – and highly significant.

"We can't expect the media to focus on the Tories' policies when he keeps dropping the ball," said one senior Labour MP, a Brownite. He described as "disastrous" the PM's handling of MPs' expenses, the Lockerbie bomber, the Gurkhas' row and his belated acceptance of the need for spending cuts.

"He won't get any credit for saving the world when all the public see are balls-ups at home," one minister said

Exhibit two comes from Steve Richards, who has also been chatting to a few insiders about the week ahead:

But of course, barely visible ministers, the few demoralised MPs who can be bothered to make the trip and the rest of the bewildered, gloomy remnants of the Labour Party are not heading for the south coast to celebrate.The talk is funereal. "I'm dreading it" was the most upbeat comment I got speaking to ministers and senior MPs in recent days. "It's going to be really depressing" was the view of a cabinet minister who fears this will be the last conference in which Labour gathers as the governing party for at least a decade, if not for much longer.

Ministers are not the only people “dreading it”

Overshadowing the whole choreographed Oscar winning performance will be the examples of other leaders who had relatively successful conferences and then weeks later were despatched with little more than a thank you.

Brown has lost the media, which was proved conclusively this week.  It would be a safe bet that even thick-skinned Gordon was rather taken aback with all the negative coverage, whilst the Americans asked themselves, ‘Is this the man ultimately responsible for releasing the Lockerbie bomber?’

The kindest that can he said about the week ahead is that the conference finishes on Thursday, after which the Irish will vote.  Then we will get Osborne’s next game changing performance followed by Cameron reminding us all why Blair was so good in his day.

After which comes the deadly pause while we wait for the polls that matter and for MPs to return to Westminster.  Only then will the ladies and gentleman of the jury retire and decide what the future holds for Our Dear Leader.

The difference being that this time we have a candidate who has now subtlety declared his intentions.

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AJ4PM: With perfect timing, the words that matter

There is no point diluting what Our Man has said with other quotes from his interview in the Guardian.

After asking the question, “Does Alan Johnson want the job”, we get the answer:

I'm not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities in the future.

After months of debate and analysis, lead by John Rentoul, the end game begins.

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The best and worst of Today

From the sublime to the ridiculous.

Nick, give it up .  Either join Newsnight or your pal in Downing Street.

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Where is the post match analysis?

Has it been censored?  Has it been banned?  Have the hoards of BBC reporters just not bothered to cover the great event?

Following the G20, Brown has failed to deliver some memorable sound bites to the press before flying back to these damp islands.  Is it because:

1. The G20 finished too late for peak TV viewing?

2. Brown didn't want to face any embarrassing questions?

3. Brown realised be had missed the cut-off time for the 1st editions of the morning papers?

4. There was nothing substantial to say? or

5. He had walked into an empty press room after saying this earlier?

We await the definitive answers.

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Gaddafi puts on his sincerity act

Brown’s favourite trading partner, Col Muammar Gadaffi, has become all emotional and spoken to some of the relatives of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Gaddifi has given a debrief to CNN saying:

the meeting had been "friendly" and that he had offered his "condolences".

How touching.

He then comes out with this show-stopper:

Whether it is Lockerbie or whether it is the 1986 raid against Libya, we are all families... terror in all its forms is a common enemy to all of us.

Presumably, the words “except me” have been carelessly left out from the end of the quote or have we all misunderstood what Libya has been up to for years?

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25 September 2009

Nice one, Gordon

During this most critical time for his premiership, this what Our Dear Leader had to say to the press after finally securing a meeting with Obama:

I think you guys should start to understand how international meetings work.

Making friends, keeping friends by James Gordon Brown

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Brown gets his meeting with Obama


After the ‘snub” they will finally meet later today for a one-to-one.

It will, of course, be too late.  After the five initial requests, the perception that Brown was overlooked by the White House has already taken hold.  The damage has been done.

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