Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's an almighty 'screw-up' Gordon.

Sometimes speaking the 4 words ‘I told you so’ can give one pleasure because we can feel smug when we are proved right. On this occasion, as a life-long Labour Party supporter I take absolutely no pleasure in saying ‘I told you so’

More than 7 months ago, I wrote on this Blog that I thought it was a huge tactical error on Gordon Brown’s part not to call a General Election immediately after he became leader of the Labour Party and our Prime Minister, succeeding Tony Blair.

At that time Gordon was still on his ‘honeymoon’ as PM. Everything in the garden appeared rosy. He was miles ahead of his rival David Cameron, the leader of the Tory Party in the opinion polls as the most suitable person to be Prime Minister. The Labour Party was way ahead of the Tories in the polls as the most electable party. How times change.

I believe if he had gone for a snap election last Autumn he would have won a comfortable majority. He would have had the comfort of knowing he had 5 years to stabilise things and build a Government that had his stamp on it.

Instead, he dithered and dallied and decided in the end not to go for the election – presumably advised by people closest to him. How come, if someone like me can see something as obvious as the nose on Gordon Brown's face, the massive machinery of the Labour party cannot see it?

I am not some sort of ‘expert’ on such things. It just goes to prove my long held view that the word ‘expert’ must always be challenged.

We are now faced with the certain defeat – probably obliteration - of the Labour Party at the next General Election in approximately 18 months from now. If that happens, Gordon Brown will be remembered as a dithering, indecisive, incompetent leader who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

And yet ….. It could have been so different.

Four more words spring to mind - ‘I hope I’m wrong’ - Sorry Gordon – I think you've screwed up big time - we will see.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Brown is a classic HR story of "Buggin's Turn" i.e. the time-served worker who is automatically elevated from Job 1 to Job 2 to Job 3 without much thought about whether he has the right skills and attributes for it. He was a good Chancellor (not nearly as good as he's often painted, but still good) and a hopeless man-manager. If the Labour party is obliterated at the next election, it's mainly the fault of the spineless apparatchiks who didn't have the guts to tell him he simply wasn't suitable for the top job. Their negligence is their own death warrant.

BTW, on the subject of the "honeymoon period," you have to criticise Mr. Brown again. At least Mr. Blair had the honesty and awareness to admit that he was too slow and too circumspect on becoming PM; he should have been bolder and more vigorous. Mr. Brown has missed this lesson entirely.

Another reason why the public don't like Mr. Brown is that for 10 years he's taken personal credit for our stable economy. Now that it's going pear shaped, he's trying to blame world events rather than his own policies and he's positioning himself as the man who can sort it out. There's something very distasteful about a person who so blatantly tries to have his cake and eat it too.

And finally, it's not a redefinition of "expert" that we need so much as a recognition that the words "politics" and "expert" are very dubious bedfellows!

Anonymous said...

Here's another thought: should Mr. Brown have called an election or should we change the system?

We allegedly vote for the best person to represent our local community. The party that gets the most people elected gets to form the government. That party chooses its leader with my representative having very little say on the matter, and the leader then instructs my representative how to vote.

So, in principle we don't ever vote in a Prime Minister and that's the person directly instructing my representative! Further, the PM can then go on for as long as there's no challenge and can decide within 5 years when to hold another general election.

Instead of focusing on the upper chamber (wrong way of getting in but doing a good job) the lower chamber should take a good, long, hard look at itself before talking about any more "democratic reforms."

David Wike said...

I think we should all be grateful that GB didn’t call a snap election and lumber us with him for another four or five years … although my recollection is that all the indications were that he would probably lose, which is why he decided against.

When you have waited ten years for the top job it must be very tempting to hang on, even though it might only be for a couple of years, rather than calling an election and losing the job after a couple of months.

Mark is right that number two often doesn’t have what it takes to be number one – we see it demonstrated in football management quite frequently. What amuses me is that when questioned by the media, Gordon keeps trotting out the same message: what the people want is for him to get on with sorting out the economy. Wrong! What the majority want is for him to let somebody else have a go. It is almost as if he thinks that saying it often enough will convince us that he is right … or is he just trying to convince himself?

There are pros and cons for having fixed term elections but I do think government would be better without the parties having such a hold over their MPs. As alluded to by Mark, I want my MP to represent me, not do as her party bosses tell her. So when I’m in charge, I’ll abolish the whips’ office and allow free votes on everything!

And the other rule I would bring in would require all prospective MPs to have had a ‘proper job’ before they are eligible for parliament. Proper jobs would exclude lawyers, journalists and political party researchers (apologies to any Simplicity readers who fit into any of those categories!).

Trevor Gay said...

Mark – I recall the John Major scenario when the weak lily-livered senior people in the Tory Government did not have the guts to tell him he was not up to the job – much the same thing really. I agree Brown learned nothing from the good advice of Tony Blair - I suspect that’s because Gordon wants to be his own man (and is failing miserably). Most politicians ‘want their cake and eat it too’ but it seems even more distasteful when it is our PM!! ‘Politician’ and ‘expert’ should never be mentioned in the same sentence!

I think you may be right about changing the system. Nowadays there is no significant difference between the two main parties. As for democracy I prefer Mahatma Gandhi’s answer when he was asked what he thought of Democracy in Britain. Mr Gandhi replied ‘I think it would be a very good idea’ – I love that!

David – When the election was a possibility I am sure the polls were saying Gordon would win and I think he would have done. All he has done since then is digging his own grave deeper – anyone with half a brain could have seen that coming.

Whether people like or not Tony Blair one thing about him is he has charisma and he can carry people with him – he has leadership qualities – Sadly I see no leadership qualities in Gordon.

I love the David Wike proposal ‘proper job before being a MP’ – sounds sensible to me ... If Margaret Thatcher had been a cleaner in her local hospital maybe she wouldn’t have tried so hard to completely wreck the NHS

David Wike said...

Of course, Margaret Thatcher did a have a proper job first. She was an industrial chemist before becoming a lawyer and then a politician.

Once again I think you are in danger of making sweeping and biased generalisations. Eleven years of Labour government has hardly left us with hospitals that you would want to visit – even you have said they are dangerous places best avoided.

Yes, the government has spent record amounts of money on the NHS, but it hasn’t all been well directed. Same with education.

And then there is the business example I gave in my Random Ramblings newsletter this month:
‘Apparently the UK has 3,000 business support schemes run by 2,000 organisations at a cost (to you and me) of £2.5 billion! And two thirds of that budget is spent on telling business where to find the advice they need … yes, that’s £1.67 billion just to point people in the right direction!’

Trevor Gay said...

Margaret Thatcher – a real job? - I rest my case

I agree with you totally - there are far too many hospital acquired infections than there should be – it is scandalous quite frankly. The 3 most important words to prevent infection in hospitals are ‘wash your hands - and it seems difficult to implement that message – that I contend is certainly not a government responsibility in London! I would NEVER defend the NHS for its record on cleanliness – it is appalling but the answer is a local problem not a national one.

What we need to appreciate as well is that before this government there were no accurate recording mechanisms of hospital acquired infections so we really don’t know what it was like prior to 1997.

Say what you like about investment in the NHS but if you recall in 1997 - before this government - you would have awaited a lifetime (and sometimes died before you got it) for some treatments that now you can get done within weeks – even days and that is directly because of the new money that has been ploughed into the NHS under the leadership of Tony Blair by the Labour Government.

I am with you entirely on wasting money on ‘advising’ businesses 'how to’ when it would be better spent giving business the money to just get on and do it! There is a balance between ‘advice’ and ‘action’ and the balance is clearly not correct from what you say.

Anonymous said...

Heartwarming to see the same discussion going on in the UK as the US, albeit with different names and faces. Very few reasonable adults in the US are overwhelmed by their choices in the upcoming presidential election and many see nothing good coming from it no matter which party or candidate wins. It has ever been thus. People marvel at the ability of democracies to survive and even excel despite the lack of strong leadership we so often exhibit internally. I say that is the chief reason why we excel. Government is not so important except in the case of national emergency, so we allow witless and venal politicos to "lead" us most of the time, saving our true leaders for when we really need them. Trevor, you will one day realize the answer lies not with better government, but with less government. Thomas Jefferson had it correct when he said the government that governs best is that which governs least (to paraphrase). But someone else, Ben Franklin maybe, said that we get the leaders we deserve. Scary thought, that.

Trevor Gay said...

I think there is something going on over there and over here Mike.

I suspect voters are fed up with lies and lack of leadership and integrity from politicians. We have pathetic turn out for elections – usually less than half of the people who are entitled to vote bother to turn up at the polling station- apathy rules it seems to me.

I am all for less government interference Mike just as long as the most vulnerable members of our society are protected by the government – whether that be health or education.

Richard Lipscombe said...

My reading of Prime Minister Gordon Brown is that he is a Labor man. He is trying to do the types of things he wanted Tony Blair to do but failed to get him to do while they were there together. It is a hard act to follow a very successful PM and to put your own stamp on government - as you noted with John Major.. He looked a total dork after he took office and a competent alternative before hand - as did Gordon Brown... I know I am writing this on Labor ground so I will stick to discussing your side of politics Trevor... But I can assure you this is true for both sides or both ideological positions perhaps more correctly... The real problem for Gordon Brown is he followed a PM who had no virtually no interest in policy development and thus resorted to very short-term policy settings. PM Brown is much more interested in social engineering or re-engineering and thus he needs good policy development - when PM Blair left office the policy development cupboard was bare no actually it was worse than that it was threadbare... It is impossible to make your mark as an incoming PM with a radically different policy agenda as Brown always hinted that he would want to do when there is no policy development to back up his positions. Thus in PM Brown it is no surprise but a great pity to see this intelligent, compassionate, sociable, and humble man look like a prize idiot. I believe the Labor Party can change to whomever you like and have the same result...Will they win the next election - it is still possible but who knows? Has the British electorate had a gut full of the nanny state? Given the local government elections results I suspect that Labor is on the nose and so too therefore is PM Brown... I respect PM Brown and I feel it is a great shame that his side of politics will end up kicking him to death before he leaves #10... But that is politics!

Trevor Gay said...

Perceptive comments as usual - thanks Richard

‘Thus in PM Brown it is no surprise but a great pity to see this intelligent, compassionate, sociable, and humble man look like a prize idiot.’

I agree with that summary!

That is politics indeed and I think he is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am an eternal optimist on everything as you know but I think Labour has completely blown it and I predict now that Labour will lose the next general election big style. I hope I am wrong.

I don’t see anyone in the Labour ranks capable of giving the inspirational leadership needed to pull the party back up as far as public perception is concerned. I fear Gordon is just an efficient ‘plodder’.

It seems to me a lose-lose scenario for Gordon!