A bad week for Gordon wooing the English

Sometimes it is events dear boy that land a Prime Minister in trouble.
This week we have seen the PM trying to cement an alliance between the UK and France. Listening carefully to Mr Sarkozy’s agenda it sounded more like the old Scottish-French alliance, as a strong and integrated EU is more SNP than English Eurosceptic. Gordon Brown followed that diversion with an address to the Labour Scottish Conference, reminding us all of the important Scottish influence over current UK policy.
Maybe this will bring forward the day when Labour, desperate to keep their nothern English seats, propose a change to the Barnett formula to redress the current imbalance in funding?

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7 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I am the very last person to feel sympathy for a socialist, but even I could not help but feel slightly sorry for Mrs Brown having to be photographed next to Ms Bruni.

  2. John MUnyard
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    There are parts of the media that harp on endlessly about Gordon Brown's powerful intellect. Whether that is true or not, he clearly still fails to appreciate that his "problems" as a Prime Minister are probably quite simple.

    Brown seems to have no understanding at all of his own public image outside of Westminster. He does not appreciate that when he makes speeches about the value of the Union or how important it is to be British, that most people see a dour Scotsman who was a significant cog in the decision to grant devolution and regard him as divisive and patronising.

    When Gordon Brown makes speeches improving Democracy most people just see a dour Scotsman who grabbed office without a mandate to do so, who refuses to deal with the West Lothian question, who bullies his own MPs with three line whips on secondary issues, who is prepared to give away great lumps of our Democratic control with the Lisbon Treat despite having offered a referendum in his own Party's manifesto, and who is still dogmatically seeking the introduction of ID cards.

    When Gordon Brown talks about our troops in action, most people see a grumpy dour Scot who failed as Chancellor to support defense budgets for years, who presided at least in part over the dismemberment of many historic regiments (including Scots ones) and whose upbeat accounts of progress, funding and the state of our services would ring true if almost anyone in our entire Military command agreed with him.

    When Gordon Brown talks about Labour's economic management, most people see a dull, dour Scotsman who doesn't acknowledge that taxes are currently at the highest for a generation, whose Government is currently straining against record National Debt, whose Government is using tax money to prop up the first UK bank to go bust in 130 years, and whose future spending plans clearly indicate that he regards UK plc as nothing more than a bottomless cashpoint for him to make withdrawals from.

    When Gordon Brown lectures us on propriety in public life, all most people see is the dour, grumpy Scot who stood by Tony Blair for years, who sat in power not only during the Eccestone affair, but then through the cash-for-loans disgrace and then most recently through the Hain/David Abrahams affair. He is also the one who is now trying to obsfucate the publication of MP's expenses.

    For all his intelligence, Brown fails to understand that the Public don't give a damn about how intelligent he is. We don't care how skilled he is in handling his machiavellian plans inside the New Labour camp, we don't care for token politics, or a nanny state, or multitudes of new laws, or sneaky new taxes.

    What people do want, is a popular, democratically elected, insprirational leader who actually keeps and delivers on his promises, a Leader who trusts and believes in the People, the Country, it's institutions and it's history. We need a leader who is respected by other Leaders.

    We don't have any of those things I'm afraid. What we do have is a man who was never popular enough to win power on his own virture, who has managed to grasp the chalice of power which was never his, and is determined to "lead" our Country by hook or crook, irrespective of democracy or the damage he is doing. Finally he is also just an unlikeable, grumpy man. No wonder the Scots don't like him either…

  3. Iain
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes that was my take on it as well, where as an Englishman I was less than impressed with what took place, I don't think it helped having the Speaker making a groveling 'auld alliance' welcoming speech, and highlights the lack of English representation in the Executive , Parliament or State.

    Unfortunately with Cameron in the past also going to Scotland and insulting the English people by calling us 'sour face little Englanders' ( it seems its only English people you can racially abuse and get away with it ) who have every right to feel pretty bloody angry and aggrieved at what has taken place , find there is no British political party who have any desire to sort out the discriminatory arrangement.

    The lack of a Conservative presence on this issue I find unbelievable, it seems to me that the Conservatives are waiting for Labour to tell them what is an acceptable constitutional settlement and what isn’t, yet Labour and Mugabe Brown are making our constitutional settlement their own private play thing to be used to benefit their own narrow party interest. This fact shows how feeble the Conservative leadership are on the issue, having Ken Clark leading Conservative policy thinking on this issue doesn’t help, for he would like Parliament to be no more than a county council to the EU, but that you would muse of the possibility of Labour changing the Barnet formula to advance their party interest, yet the Conservative party are terrified about making even the mildest utterance at the discriminatory constitutional arrangement Labour have put in place shows who has the initiative on this matter, and which party for English people are a waste of space!

  4. E.Justice
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Well said Iain.agree with every word.

  5. Bazman
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    A Scottish-French alliance is probably not far from the truth when they met. The common currency between the two was no doubt social justice. Something lacking in England and part of why the Conservative party is finished in Scotland.
    Social justice is going the wrong way in France, to the old and rich it seems. I wonder if Gorden Brown Mentioned this?

  6. John
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I think many of us would be most interested to know what the official Conservative view is on the 'Barnett formula'. What is often forgotten is that under the terms of devolution the Scottish Parliament has the power to raise or lower the standard rate of income tax by 3p. If the Scots wish to continue to enjoy free university fees, care for the old etc – currently paid for by England – then they have the means ! Or have missed something ?

  7. Atlas shrugged
    Posted March 30, 2008 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Brown does not have the 'responsibility' factor working in his favor, and never will have at the rate he is going.

    When people vote for someone they feel in some way responsible for that persons actions. They naturally wish therefore to give that person the benefit of the doubt as much as possible, so putting off the time when they have to take a degree of personal responsibility for the utter balls up the guy has made of everything he touches.

    Brown was not elected by the public or even his own party to become prime minister, so can be dumped without guilt by both.

    John

    I understand you live in the cast iron bubble of Westminster. So you have little contact with us the great unwashed out here, and sometimes I cant blame you for that. Its not always a pleasant experience.

    However I think I am happy to tell you that ordinary people are not at all happy out here. In the last 6 months especially there has been a big CHANGE. This is not just the opinion polls being unstable, this is real and long term. Many life time Labour voters were willing to give GB some time to show that he actually cared one tiny little bit for the working man,but not very long, for the reasons I have given. Now many of them are just plane angry as hell, and looking for salvation.

    I really do believe that a few strong attacks by yourself on national TV and Radio over Labours seeming and real complete lack of human empathy for the working people of this country, could see Labour falling to under 25% in the polls.

    Go to it tiger.

    The message is clear. Don't mention immigration, Don't even mention the NHS. In fact don't bother to mention policies at all, there is no point. Hardly anyone out here would now believe anything a politician says whatever colour tie they sport.

    All you have to do is show people you FEEL their PAIN and show that you are listening to what they are saying. Which at his best is what Cameron does quite wonderfully. However it would be nice if the rest of the shadow cabinet appeared to be doing some REAL work, for a change.

    If the rest of you lot are doing little and saying less because of CCO policy. Then, IMO, if it was a good idea in the past, it is not a good idea now. Come on John get Labour down to 25% and keep them there. The wheels will fall off quicker then a Fiat Uno in a crushing machine.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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