Friday 25 September 2009

Caption competition

Best of the worst

When the plot to topple Brown earlier this year kicked off Labour MP Paul Farrelly was one who said he thought the PM should step aside.

Today he explained:

“I said earlier in the year after the local elections that if Gordon didn’t improve his game then it would be right for him to stand down and for someone else to lead the party to the election.

“The reality now is that he will still be the Prime Minister come an election and whatever my concerns about him, I’d rather have a Labour Prime Minister than David Cameron and his club.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

The "be scared of the Tories" strategy is working less and less these days though in Farrelly's Labour heartland it may still hold sway.

What's more likely to happen in those kinds of places is that votes are lost to the likes of the BNP and UKIP.

Brown wasted months

Mark Todd – the business minded Derbyshire South MP – has never been a cheerleader for the PM.

But he tends to back away from outright criticism, which was why I was surprised at his comments yesterday.

He told Lobbydog that Brown had wasted months on the “Labour investment Vs Tory cuts” debate.

“I don’t think it was helpful taking that original position because I don’t think most of us thought it was credible.

“Repeatedly a number of informed commentators came out and said that what the Government was arguing was not the case.

“It would have been sensible to stop arguing that position – instead three or four months that could have been used discussing where spending cuts might fall were lost.”

He went on to say the PM would have to “think carefully” about his position if things didn’t pick up.

“If it is looking like there is no prospect for recovery then I think he will think carefully for himself about his position.

“I would be surprised if he doesn’t understand the logic of the situation he is in. I think if he doesn’t see significant signs of recovery then I believe he will make a judgement on his own position.”

The MP is stepping down at the end of the year, and so will feel a little freer to speak than some colleagues.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Vadera departure a black-eye for Hoon?

Lady Vadera is leaving the Government, Sky is reporting, and there is a hint of another job she might be moving to.

She recently emerged as a favourite to take the British EU Commissioner role, which has not had a solid incumbent since Lord Mandelson came back into UK politics.

If she is leaving to take it up, it'll be a black eye for Geoff Hoon who has apparently been aching to assume the role.

When he left the cabinet he was given some advisory positions concerning NATO and the EU which were seen as priming for the Commissioner's job.

Conference surprises

Lobbydog has a briefing with Lord Mandelson later on where he will no doubt try and shape media coverage for the days before Labour conference.

But there are a couple of surprises pending that might rain on all his hard work.

Firstly a new book is coming out tomorrow promising some sort of political scandal, see Iain Dale’s post, though details are as of yet sketchy.

Secondly Dispatches is making a programme about what MPs did on their holidays which will be broadcast on the Monday of the conference.

The MP that told me, who had been contacted by the programme, had only taken a modest short UK break, but no doubt there will be others who are a little more wary of the show.

The timing is probably no accident so it makes you wonder how interesting a conference opening we’re in for.

No longer punching above our weight

Lobbydog returned from his last break of the summer today to find the PM getting palmed-off and slighted by President Obama.

The BBC is reporting that Whitehouse staff turned down repeated requests from Gordon Brown to officially meet Barack Obama this week at the UN.

Obama met the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of Russia, but only spared a few minutes for Brown, apparently in a kitchen.

It is a ‘palming-off’ and a ‘slighting’ because Downing Street officials described talk of the PM being snubbed as "completely unfounded", so we’d better get our semantics right.