The PM stays?

Labour is not good at coups. A couple of Cabinet Ministers resigning after reading brieifing against themselves in the press was not enough to bring the government down. They could wound but not kill. If the Chancellor had said he was going, and if some other Ministers had lined up to threaten the same, things might have been different.

An alerted Prime Minister can now counter attack. He needs to reshuffle quickly and decisively, understanding that he has to consider his party’s opinions on who to have in crucial roles. A new Cabinet of cronies is not the answer. He needs to use a reshuffle to know more about his Ministers, and to assess who will stand by him and who might be able to do something sensible for the country.

What he needs above all is is to understand that his plan for the economy based on debt, debt and debt, is not going to be the answer. He needs to start the necessary task of reining in excess in public spending before the public finance crisis intensifies. I doubt he has it in him to do that. I fear he believes his own rhetoric.

What is strange is that amidst all this the Chancellor did not say to the PM “back me or sack me”. If he had demanded the PM speak for him yesterday in the Commons or else, I suspect the PM would have felt he had to back him. At least Gordon was lucky with his Chancellor!

Alan Johnson is being touted as a dream unity candidate. I wonder if Mr Balls would let him run without a contest? The problem with Mr Johnson is he has never hinted of having any alternative economic strategy that might work, and has never shown any understanding of what is wrong with the government”s current economic approach. He too is probably a bank nationaliser, an overspender, and someone who believes that more borrowing is the answer.

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11 Comments

  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Perhaps if the potential new Ministers take the reported line of John Reid and refuse the offered posts he will take the hint.

    I suspect that the vanity of those who have never held such posts will hold sway, and there will be enough new blood to fill the posts. Mr Brown still won’t take the hint, and public life will be cursed with another puppet cabinet.

    If current life in Westminister were a screenplay I’m sure I’d make a much better job of writing it (there’d be a happy ending, too). Where are Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn when you need them?

  2. Waramess
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    What we can all be certain of is that Brown will not resign; he will not chose a new Cabinet that is good for the country and that he will not stop spending.

    Brown wil continue (as does Cameron) to consider a Cabinet position as a leaders gift, and he will ensure he has a Cabinet that is totally loyal notwithstanding their ability to do the job.

    This is a Prme Minister under attack from his own side and he will behave accordingly.

    It is we that will have to settle down in the bunker for a while yet, not he.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The Prime Minister seems not to be the sort of man to be a little humble and admit to any mistakes at all.
    His major problem is that he will not seem to listen or have an open mind to alternative ideas by others.
    It would seem if its not his idea, then its not worth considering.

    I fear the borrowing will continue, because he is wedded to the idea that if he increases benefits and public expenditure, then this will be popular with traditional Labour supporters.

    What he appears not to have taken into account is that those Labour supporters who have jobs, are now feeling the cold wind of his policy in the form of higher taxes, loss of job security and all that goes with it.

    Those that have been on benefits for years, may see not a lot of difference to their standard of living and so may continue with their support.
    Those who are working or who have worked recently, know that you cannot spend more than you earn for too long, before reality strikes home.
    In addition the Government have made the very system that was supposed to be a safety net for those who were unfortunate enough to become too ill to work, or were unfortunate to loose their job far too complex.
    Initiatives too numerous to mention just seem to fail to help anyone, as systems are often too confusing or too vague.

    Brown’s Government is dead in the water and just drifting.

    All he can offer is more of the same, when clearly more of the same is the last thing we either want or need.

    The sooner he and his Government go the better, a new leader would be a waste of 12 months.

  4. Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    We are living through the last days of Socialism.
    Yippee!

    PS Has anyone handed the Prime Minister a copy of Macbeth? Burnham Woods are already advancing, methinks.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted June 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Are we indeed? Bush was no Barry Goldwater type Republican in that he boosted the deficit and spending (nothing compared to the ludicrous spending of Obama but still). I cannot help but feel Mr Cameron is something of a work in progress and the public committmnets to a nationalised health service, state education and nonsensical green policies mean, in my view anyway, that socialism may have some way to run yet.

      If I may continue your metaphor, Macbeth continued to fight even when all the predictions came true, so it will be with Brown.

  5. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    If a new PM is installed presumably he would gain a lifetime of Prime Ministerial perks even if he is consigned to the dustbin of history within a few months (or even weeks given the tide of ensuing popular indignation at a second unelected leader)?

    Yet another waste of taxpayers funds!

    We agree with your conclusion on Johnson. Was it not he who copped out of government pension reform in his former post?

    As totally discredited as Brown is perhaps it best he soldiers on…
    UNLESS we can unify around a specific date and galvanise the public and Parliament in the way that we saw with the Speaker and in Bromsgrove for example.

    OCTOBER 1ST is our choice and has been backed in voter group discussions. Time to sort the ‘runners and riders’, give MPs a hard-working summer for a change and allow the Queen to open Parliament in November so the country does not waste a critical year in all our lives!

  6. Josh
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve said for a while if Brown was a Tory he’d have been slaughtered by now. Mrs Thatcher was deposed by spineless pygmies. Iain Duncan Smith was brutally put down.

  7. Acorn
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I have just asked our Postman and he says he does not have “any alternative economic strategy that might work” either. So I am reluctantly ruling out Postmen (and women, sorry Harriet) for the job.

    Anyway, what’s the problem? The pound is on the way up. Consumer confidence is on the way up. The national debt is on the way up, but nobody understands that so forget it. The BoE Balance Sheet dropped by £10,000,000,000 last week. Everything in the garden is rosy!

    I fear you may have blown it JR. The economy will be sitting pretty come next Spring (not before), just in time for the next general election. The BoE will be pulling back all that crispy new cash, no problem; and, hyper-inflation will be confined to the archives of doom merchant bloggers. (Anyway, if there is inflation, the BoE will regulate it to match GDP increase).

    Gordo will be elected El Presidente for life; the UK Parliament will move to Fife and Westminster will become a Mosque or a Tesco.

    What a fine country we live in. (Must go now the ambulance has arrived; Ere mate, so what exactly is Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983).

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    What Brown needs is something else like the G20, so that he can get fellow world leaders to come here and tell us how wonderful he is, and how lucky we are to have him as Prime Minister.

    The Spanish Prime Minister had an article along those lines in the Guardian yesterday:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/03/european-elections-gordon-brown-globalisation

    “Brown has led the way”

    “As G20 leader the British prime minister proved his ability to deal with post-crisis policy both globally and in Europe”

    but clearly much more than that would be needed.

    Another world conference on something or other of major importance, in the UK, widely publicised especially on TV, with Brown being hailed as a hero.

    Merkel and Sarkozy might not be quite so willing to oblige as last time, but they need to keep Cameron out of Downing Street until after the Lisbon Treaty has come into force, and so they’ll want to do whatever they can in that direction.

  9. Kenneth Morton
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood

    What the country needs from the Labour benches is a John Bellingham, assassin of Spencer Percival in 1812. Metaphorically speaking of course! I feel sure that there is still enough political ambition left within the Blairite wing to pull the trigger within the next seven days. This is not a long term answer however. The past twelve years have proved this beyond doubt.

    It is essential that you and your colleagues are able to pick up the load that will be dumped messily all over the country and a very angry population when the Government finally collapses.

    All I can say is that you all need a great deal of luck as well as wisdom, patience and very thick skins. For all our sakes I hope that you are successful in saving our country

  10. ollie
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    spot on about Johnson. If he does replace Brown, it’s a 60 yr old Marxist replacing another 60 yr old Marxist – and I really hope the Tories expose Johnson for what he is – a light weight who offends nobody – by saying nothing.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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