Blair on Brown

September 1st, 2010 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Oh these are good. The Telegraph reports:

The former prime minister’s memoir discloses that a “maddening” Mr Brown effectively blackmailed him while he was in No 10. He suspects the then chancellor of orchestrating the investigation into the cash-for-honours scandal.

The pressure on Mr Blair to step aside became so great that he admits he may have become reliant on alcohol as he faced coup attempts from Mr Brown’s supporters. He discloses that he began drinking every day and needed the “support” that alcohol provided.

I’m still making my way through Mandelson’s memoirs. Blair’s will come next.

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Prime Minister David Cameron

May 12th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

David Cameron is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Congrats to Prime Minister Cameron and my many friends in the UK who were fighting for this outcome.

The Telegraph has a great timeline of the last few hours, as the Labour and Lib Dems negotiation fell apart.

Nick Clegg is to be Deputy Prime Minister in a full coalition. That should give stability. They have also agreed on the desirability for a fixed election term, which means the next election which can be held any time up to May 2015, may be set in law for May 2014 and every four years there after.

The Lib Dems have five Cabinet posts.

David Cameron is the 19th PM from Eton, out of 53 in total. He is the youngest for 200 years, aged only 43. I can safely say no one will ever beat Pitt the Younger’s record of becoming PM at age 24. Pitt was PM for a total of 20 years.

I’m very pleased by the result.  Apart from the obvious political leanings, I had a lot of money on iPredict for Cameron to become Prime Minister.

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Worst Prime Minister ever

May 4th, 2010 at 9:49 pm by David Farrar

A candidate in the UK elections this week has declared Gordon Brown the worst Prime Minister ever.

Now this by itself may not be surprising. Candidates say many harsh things about their opponents.

However in this case, Manish Sood was not speaking about his opponents, but his own party leader. He is the Labour candidate for north-west Norfolk.

Mr Sood, 38, said: “I believe Gordon Brown has been the worst Prime Minister we have had in this country.

“It is a disgrace and he owes an apology to the people and the Queen.”

I guess he won’t be making Cabinet if the Lib Dems put Gordon back in.

Personally I thought the Viscount Goderich (Frederick Robinson) might be the worst.

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A massive blunder

April 29th, 2010 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

LONDON – Britain’s bedraggled Prime Minister Gordon Brown walked into a political train wreck Wednesday after forgetting to turn off his microphone.

He described a loyal Labour voter as a bigot for asking about immigration, blamed advisers for a “disaster” ahead of next week’s election, then rushed back to the voter’s house to beg her forgiveness.

All the country could do was look on – in shock, amazement and sometimes glee – as the painful, riveting drama played out over television and radio for hours. The debacle created a massive setback for Brown on the eve of the last TV debate ahead of the May 6 vote.

Nail meet coffin.

Grandmother Gillian Duffy, 66, met with Brown at a campaign stop in the northern town of Rochdale and questioned him about the influx of eastern European immigrants who have come to Britain. …

Brown brushed the question aside and explained that Britons were also working in eastern Europe, leaving in his car in a hurry and forgetting to turn off his microphone.

“That was a disaster, they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous,” Brown is heard saying.

Asked what Duffy had said to upset him, Brown told the aide: “Everything. She’s just a sort of bigoted woman.”

This would be bad enough about any voter, but it gets worse:

Duffy, a retired widow who had worked with handicapped children and whose family had all voted for Labour, had questioned Brown on taxes, university fees, immigration and Britain’s record deficit of 152.84 ($323) billion pounds.

The message to every other UK Labour supporter who has concern about immigration, is that your leader thinks you are a bigot.

The latest YouGov poll has Conservatives 34%, Lib Dems 31% and Labour 27% – this was done mainly before the gaffe.

However according to the UK Polling Report Swingometer, it would result in the following:

  1. Conservatives 259 (+61)
  2. Labour 251 (-105)
  3. Lib Dems 109 (+47)
  4. Others 31 (+1)

This leaves the Conservatives 67 short of a majority. Even if the Conservatives extend their lead over Labour to 10%, they still look 41 seats short of a majority. To get a majority, the Lib Dems have to poll less than 30% and Conservatives need to be high 30%.

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Thought of the Day

September 25th, 2009 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

I might be wrong, but I suspect Helen Clark hated that her first meeting with Barack Obama was having John Key introduce her as his predecessor, after Obama goes out of his way to say hi to Key.

We sometimes forget what a great reputation our country has overseas as a place to live:

Mr Obama had a friend living in New Zealand who had raved about the country praising its golf courses, skiing and lifestyle for families.

If Obama does visit at some stage, he’ll be a lot more popular than he is back home. UMR released a poll yesterday on NZers views of world leaders. The net positive ratings were:

  1. Barack Obama +82% (88% favourable, 6% unfavourable)
  2. Kevin Rudd +45%
  3. Angela Merkel +15%
  4. Nicolas Sarkozy +2%
  5. Gordon Brown -1%
  6. Silvio Berlusconi -16%
  7. Vladimir Putin -19%
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Key’s formula

September 12th, 2009 at 2:48 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes in the Dom Post:

If they could bottle what John Key’s got and sell it, National would make a killing.

It might be a seemingly innocuous brew of good humour and affability, rather than the traditionally more coveted mix of charisma and skilled oratory, but it clearly works.

I’m going to return back to what Tracy wrote, but want to cut over to another story that I think is a superb example of what Tracy is on about. It is this one about firefighters protesting outside the opening of a new fire station by the Prime Minister, over their pay claim.

Now this is the sort of issue that would normally prompt a discussion in the PMs Office and the PM. You will be worried about the negative message getting in the way of the positive message about funding a new fire station.

Now I can say with some certainty that the way previous National PMs would have handled the situation is to have the Minister of Internal Affairs do a press release and briefing the day before the briefing setting out how the Firefighters Union is misleading over their pay claims, and that with their various allowance they rake in $70,000 and spend so much of their time sleeping on standby, most can easily do a second job, and that their total pay per hour actually spent working is well over $50 an hour. This would then put the pressure on the union and protesters to respond, and take the heat off the PM.

Again with some confidence I can say former Labour PMs would handle it very similarly. The key difference would be that they wouldn’t have the Internal Affairs Minister release the information publicly, as they don’t like to be seen crapping on the unions that fund them. Instead a press secretary would give the relevant information to a journalist, and they would rely on the rest of the media picking up the story.

So what did John Key do:

The firefighters, in their yellow protective clothing, waved placards, chanted and pressed themselves against the station’s glass roller doors as Mr Key spoke.

After the opening, he went outside and addressed them through a megaphone.

He insisted he had not yet received a recommendation on wage rises from the Fire Service.

“All we’re saying to you guys is we’re living in a backdrop where a hell of a lot of people are losing their job, where the Government is running big deficits and where we’ve all got to be reasonable.”

Mr Key said that if insurance levies, which pay the Fire Service’s wages, went up then more pressure would be placed on taxpayers, already struggling with the recession.

“At the end of the day what we’re trying to do is make sure there isn’t huge pressure on a lot of people that are losing their jobs,” he said.

Union spokesman Boyd Raines said Mr Key’s response was “fairly predictable in terms of the Nats’ party line”.

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However, Mr Raines added: “It was good to see that he actually had the balls to come out and actually front up to the crowd.”

And quite a few of the protesters would have said the same thing. Don’t get me wrong – they are not going to suddenly convert to National because of what Key did. But they will say, “Hey at least he did us the decency of listening to us, and talking to us- rather than just attack us”.

And this is what is a strength of Key’s. He comes across as so reasonable. Apart from some of the authors of The Standard (and some of the commenters on this blog!), most people can see that and respond to that. They think he’s a nice talented guy, who tries to reasonably engage with everyone – even those who are there to protest against him.

So back to what Tracy said:

This is what has Labour strategists scratching their heads. As the party heads into its annual conference in Rotorua this weekend, it faces the same dilemma National once faced: when your opponent’s most potent weapon is its leader, is an old-fashioned contest of ideas going to be enough?

Maybe it’s that “what you see is what you get” quality to Mr Key’s leadership that strikes a chord with voters. It is hard to find artifice in a man who makes verbal gaffes, has a nice line in self-deprecating humour, talks about his kids a lot and has never worried too much about looking statesmanlike.

Again, one could imagine it easy to have someone advising the PM that whatever you do don’t pick up a megaphone and talk to the protesters. The arguments would be that it is undignified, it puts you on their level, it might look bad on the news etc etc. But he doesn’t worry about that very much.

Politicians have never underestimated the power of a friendly smile and an open and engaging face. Helen Clark crawled out from under the ignominy of dismal poll ratings as Opposition leader by smiling more and softening her voice under the tutelage of Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham. The remarkable thing is that she even had to be taught; in a more relaxed setting, Miss Clark loves nothing more than a good laugh, and does so boisterously and often. But she almost had to unlearn years of political training to unlock the person within and even then never managed to drop the shield completely.

Of course, spin doctoring can only go so far and, in the wrong hands, a politician’s smile can be an unmitigated disaster. Take British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He cemented his unpopularity only after an attempt to connect with voters by smiling scarily and at random through an infamous YouTube clip.

Simon Hoggart, in The Guardian, likened it to “the smile a 50-year-old man might use on the parents of the 23-year-old woman he is dating, in a doomed attempt to reassure them”. Even Mr Brown’s own colleagues could not hold back from poking fun at him.

Ha that is a great analogy.

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Alan Turing

September 11th, 2009 at 11:27 am by David Farrar

Like many, I know Alan Turing for his mathematics and cryptology, and especially for his invaluable role in WWII for cracking the Nazi’s enigma code.

Wikipedia says:

Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. He provided an influential formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. In 1999 Time Magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century for his role in the creation of the modern computer, stating: “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”

During the Second World War, Turing worked at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, and was for a time head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.

What I did not know is that Turing was gay, and he was effectively castrated in 1952 for being gay. Turing had a brief consensual relationship with an Arnold Murray, who then broke into his house with an accomplice and robbed it. The Police investigated and when the homosexual relationship between Turing and Murray became evident, charged Turing with gross indecency.

He was convicted and given a choice between imprisonment, or chemical castration via oestrogen hormone injections.  Two years later he killed himself.

How appalling that this happened just 50 or so years ago in a so called civilised society. And to a man whose genius helped the Allies win WWII.

This has become topical due to a petition posed on the 10 Downing Street website calling for justice for Turing. This led to an official response from Gordon Brown who said:

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Thank God the vast majority of people no longer think it should be a crime to be gay, let alone that castration is an appropriate treatment.

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How to roll Gordon Brown

June 9th, 2009 at 6:40 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s result of only 15.7% in the European elections has not quite been enough to knock off Gordon Brown, but a challenge still can’t be ruled out.

A reader suggested people may be interested in how the UK Labour leadership elections work – it is far more complicated than in New Zealand where basically Caucus can change the Leader at any time by an absolute majority.

The rules and process for UK Labour is this:

  1. Nominations – Labour Members of the House of Commons are the only people who can nominate someone to be Leader (or Deputy Leader) and only a Member of the Commons can be nominated.
  2. If there is a vacancy (such as a death as with John Smith or retirement with Tony Blair) then you need at least 12.5% of current MPs nominating you to be validly nominated.
  3. If there is no vacancy (ie you wish to challenge the sitting Leader) you need at least 20% of current MPs nominating you to be validly nominated,
  4. Labour currently has 350 MPs in the Commons. This means you need 70 MPs to nominate you to challenge Brown, or 44 MPs if he resigns.
  5. Supporting nominations can be made by any of the 646 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), any affiliate (unions generally) or any of the 13 Labour Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
  6. Then the voting starts. Three different groups get to vote, and they all have equal strength – 1/3 each.
  7. The first group is members of the Parliamentary Labour Party – this is the 350MPs plus the 13 MEPs.
  8. The second group is all members of the Constituency Labour Party (CLPS) – several hundred thousand people. So an MP’s vote counts for a lot more.
  9. The third group is the affiliates – not the union bosses, but the individual members of any affiliates (so long as not members of another party).
  10. The percentage vote for a candidate in each group is totalled up to get a total vote. For example in 1994 Tony Blair got 60.5% of the PLP, 58.2% of the CLPs, and 52.3% of the affiliates.  This gave him a total 57.0% of the vote.
  11. The ballots are preferential, where candidates are ranked from 1 downwards. If no candidates gets 50% combined, then the lowest candidate drops out, and their first preferences reallocated to the next preferences.
  12. For example in the 2007 Deputy Leadership election there were six candidates and no one got over 20% on the first count, so it went through to five rounds until Harriet Harman beat Alan Johnson by 50.4% to 49.6%
  13. Johnson beat Harman due to the membership at large. The PLP backed Johnson by 8% over Harman and the unions by 3%. But members at large favoured Harman by 13%.
  14. The results of the election get announced at the annual or a special conference.

I suspect Brown may survive until the election now, because his supporters are warning MPs that if they force a leadership change, the new leader will be morally obliged to call an immediate general election. But sooner or later the process will kick into play.

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UK Labour wiped out

June 6th, 2009 at 1:02 pm by David Farrar

The UK Labour Party has lost control of the four remaining local Councils they had a majority on. This means there is not a single Council in England that has a Labour majority on it.

At this stage it looks like Labour got just 23% – 5% behind the Lib Dems on 28%. Labour lost 272 seats of the 445 it had left.

What this means is that there are 1,476 Conservative Councillors and only 159 Labour Councillors left in England. The Lib Dems have 473.

And to make it even worse for the near fatally wounded Gordon Brown, another Minister has resigned, and her resignation letter is pointed:

Several of the women attending Cabinet – myself included – have been treated by you as little more than female window dressing.

I am not willing to attend Cabinet in a peripheral capacity any longer.

In my current role, you advised that I would attend Cabinet when Europe was on the agenda. I have only been invited once since October and not to a single political Cabinet – not even the one held a few weeks before the European elections.

Ouch.

Having worked hard during this campaign, I would not have been party to any plan to undermine you or the Labour Party in the run up to 4 June.

So I was extremely angry and disappointed to see newspapers briefed with invented stories of my involvement in a “Pugin Room plot”.

Time and time again I have stepped before the cameras to sincerely defend your reputation in the interests of the Labour Party and the Government as a whole. I am a natural party loyalist. Yet you have strained every sinew of that loyalty.

Strained every sinew of loyalty. And this is what your colleagues say!

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Gordon Brown under seige

June 5th, 2009 at 1:12 pm by David Farrar

The election results are not even through yet, and Brown already has a crisis.

A third Cabinet Minister has resigned this week, and told Brown he should resign as PM. His letter says:

“We both love the Labour Party. I have worked for it for 20 years and you for far longer.

‘‘We know we owe it everything and it owes us nothing. I owe it to our party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may be. I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more not less likely.

‘‘That would be disastrous for our country. This moment calls for stronger regulation, an active state, better public services, an open democracy. It calls for a Government that measures itself by how it treats the poorest in society. Those are our values, not David Cameron’s.

‘‘We therefore owe it to our country to give it a real choice. We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible Government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

‘‘I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our Party a fighting chance of winning. As such I am resigning from Government.

Brown is gone – either this year, or at next year’s elections. What I am interested in is who will be the next Leader of the Labour Party?

And I wonder how happy Tony Blair is today?

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UK Labour’s dirty politics

April 13th, 2009 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Most readers will be up with the latest in UK politics, but for those who are not, let me tell the story from the beginning.

The centre-right (like in many countries) has had stronger voices in the UK blogosphere. The two most popular blogs are run by Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines).

Dale is a former Conservative candidate and staffer. Also a successful politics niche publisher who through his blog has become a very influential commentator – both online, and in the traditional media. He also happens to be gay, making it very hard for Labour to stereotype him as a typical consservative Tory.

Paul Staines is not a member of any party. He is basically a wealthy libertarian and while he is from the centre right, he has attacked many Conservative figures also including David Cameron and the Party Chairwoman over her expenses. Staines does a lot of investigative journalism and has been responsible for a couple of very senior resignations from within the Government.

None of the left wing blogs caught on to the same degree, so UK Labour set up LabourList and got Derek Draper to run it. Draper is a former Labour activist and lobbyist who swapped careers to become a psychotherapist after it was revealed he boasted to clients that he had so much influence he could get tax breaks for clients.

The LabourList website is nominally independent but has rarely criticise the Government, and has launched personal attacks on Dale and Staines, calling them racist (because Dale defended Carol Thatcher’s golliwog comment).

Then we have the revelations this week, that Draper was working with a senior advisor to PM Gordon Brown to set up another website – Red Rag – and this one would be full of smears about Conservative Party MPs. The advisor, Damian McBride, is very senior – Brown’s former personal press secretary and now Head of Strategy. He has resigned.

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The News of the World has full coverage of the attempted smears.Also good coverage in The Times.

The strategy included:

  • spreading rumours that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne took drugs and had sex with a prostitute, including that they allude to non existent secret tapes.
  • spreading rumours about the mental health of Osborne’s wife and suggesting this will be used as an excuse to demote him.
  • challenging Cameron to reveal details of an “embarrassing illness”, ie a venereal disease and demanding he release full medical records.
  • Accusing a gay Tory MP of promoting his partner’s business interests in the Commons.
  • Suggesting photos exist of Osborne “posing in a bra, knickers and suspenders” and “with his face ‘blacked up’”
  • Concocting a tale about backbench Tory Nadine Dorries having a one night stand with a colleague, and hinting a sex aid was left behind in the hotel room

They even taught about how to “sequence” the stories for maximum impact, using timing and technology, and including links to suggestive photographs.

Huge congrats go to Guido, who got hold of the e-mails and exposed all this. He has an amazing track record in exposing wrong doing. It shows how desperate people get to retain power.

It also shows how relatively tame things are back in NZ. The worst “invented gossip” we had to endure was the fantasy smear over John Key “buying” his Helensville seat in exchange for donations totalling $1.5 million. I have always wondered whose idea that smear was.

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Brown to respond with tax cuts

November 24th, 2008 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

I’ve said time and time again that NZ Labour was almost alone in the world with its hostility to personal tax cuts. We only got them after nine years of massive surpluses and massive spending increases, and Dr Cullen admitted that he would have made them smaller (if at all) if he had known about the extent of the credit crisis.

Even under Phil Goff, NZ Labour are geared up to attack National’s tax cuts.

So bearing that in mind, let us look at what UK Labour PM Gordon Brown is looking to announce tomorrow:

Gordon Brown has defended as “necessary and responsible” the massive package of tax cuts expected in tomorrow’s Pre-Budget Report.

Yes, UK Labour delivering a massive package of tax cuts.

Australian Labour also doing the same.

NZ Labour though are regretting their tax cuts and are opposing any further tax cuts.

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Mandelson is back

October 4th, 2008 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

Gordon Brown has just appointed Peter Mandelson to the House of Lords and to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Those who do not follow UK politics will not realise how extraordinary this is. Brown and Mandelson have spent a decade hating each other.

Lance Price recaps how their feud almost destroyed the Blair Government.

Mandelson is a very smart political operator, and it is a bold move by Brown to bring him in. It will get the Blairities back on board and strengthen the Cabinet. However Mandelson is hated by many Labour MPs also, so it is a risk.

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UK Conservatives warn against borrowing

August 21st, 2008 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

I was interested to read in the Telegraph that the Conservative Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne is attacking Gordon Brown for his reckless plans to increase Government borrowing.

What fascinated me most was the level of debt:

Under the rules, the Treasury is only supposed to borrow a maximum of 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

So the UK debate is about whether exceeding 40% of GDP is prudent, while in NZ Helen and Michael preach the end of the world if it is 22% instead of 20%.

Of course Helen is also on the record as having advocated more borrowing when debt was 57% of GDP, so her position on this issue is so flexible, she could get a gold in gymnastics at the Olympics.!

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A tale of two coups

July 26th, 2008 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

There are two coups in the air – one in Australia, and one in the United Kingdom. Let us take the UK one first.

As Labour MPs face decimation, Gordon Brown’s position is perilous. He may become the first UK Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain to never face a general election.

The Telegraph reports:

Gordon Brown is being openly undermined by Cabinet ministers who are now publicly questioning his future as Prime Minister.

The Labour Party has no option but to replace him as leader or face certain defeat at the next general election, said one.

“We cannot go any lower,” the minister said, following Labour’s disastrous defeat in the Glasgow East by-election, one of the biggest upsets in political history.

“We are at rock bottom. The evidence is there for all to see. We are not a one-nation party any more. We are now a no-nation party. We cannot win in Scotland, we cannot win in England, we cannot win in Wales.

“There is only one thing that can be done, and it’s a change of leader.”

Another Cabinet minister added: “It has just moved from possible to probable that Gordon will be toppled.”

Apart from losing one of their safest seats, Labour is 22% behind the Conservatives in the latest polls – this would give them a 236 seat majority.

What will be interesting is who replaces Brown. It may be a poisoned chalice.

The other mounting coup appears to be in the Australian Liberal Party.

Peter Costello served as Deputy Leader and Treasurer to John Howard for over a decade. Howard refused to stand aside for him and when the Libs lost the 2007 election, it looked like Costello’s career was also over.

He did not contest the leadership post-Howard, realising Kevein Rudd could be expected to serve at least two terms, and that he was unlikely to survive to become PM one day. So he did not stand and made noises about retiring.

But things have changed. Brendan Nelson has been a very unimpressive leader, while the ambitious Malcolm Turnbull is mistrusted by many of his colleagues.

But why would Costello be reconsidering just because of that? It si because he thinks he can beat Kevin Rodd at the next election. Now Rudd is still very popular and ahead in the polls, but his focus on stunts is starting to gain negative publicity. But more relevant is the economy. Costelle presided over a decade of economic growth. If the Australian economy is not in good shape in 18 months time, then Costello will be seen as proven economic manager who could win against Rudd.

This is not as certain as Brown being a goner. But Costello is showing all the signs of keeping hos options open:

PETER Costello will map out an ambitious reform agenda in his political memoir – including a pathway to a republic – giving him the platform to launch a bid for the Liberal leadership.

The former treasurer will use his much-anticipated autobiography, to be published in October, to outline a list of priority reforms.

He will also lay out challenges facing Australia in a move to distance himself from John Howard’s “conservative” agenda.

And if things go well there may be a NZ leadership election later this year also!

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Gordon Brown is a goner

July 25th, 2008 at 1:25 pm by David Farrar

UK Labour have lost the Glasgow East by-election despite a 13,507 majority. This seat was in their top 5% in terms of size of majority – 25th safest.

They are calling for a recount as the majority is only 354, but that is a reasonable amount to overcome. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) are in the lead. The Conservatives are fighting the Lib Dems for third place. This is Glasgow!

If the loss is confirmed, Gordon Brown will not survive until the election. Tony Blair must be smiling. Already the knives are out.

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Well done Helen

July 16th, 2008 at 7:27 am by David Farrar

Helen Clark’s lobbying of the UK Government has paid off and New Zealanders with UK grandparents are not going to lose their right to gain ancestry visas allowing them work and live in the UK for up to five years.

It would have been a disaster if this had been scrapped. The Kiwi OE to London is (I think) a hugely important part of growing up.

You only do direct PM to PM lobbying on the really big issues. This was one of those where that was appropriate and necessary, and I am sure it had an influence on the decision not to abolish them.

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Labour crushed in by-election

June 27th, 2008 at 8:11 pm by David Farrar

Gordon Brown has been Prime Minister of the UK for a year today, and to celebrate his party came 5th in the Henley by-election to replace Boris Johnson.

It was bad enough the previous by-election when a 7,000 majority turned into a 7,000 loss but this is unprecedented. The parties scored:

  1. Conservatives 57.0%
  2. Lib Dems 27.9%
  3. Greens 3.8%
  4. BNP 3.6%
  5. Labour 3.1%
  6. UKIP 2.4%
  7. Monster Raving Loony Party 0.7%

Gordon Brown’s day as PM are numbered when the facsists get more votes than the Government. At least he beat the Monster Raving Loony Party!

David Cameron was at the IDU Conference in Paris yesterday and he really looks and acts Prime Ministerial. He may only be Opposition Leader but to some degree he dominated the meeting despite there being eight actual Prime Ministers there. The UK Prime Ministership may not be the US Presidency, but it is still one of the “big dogs”.

We had a chat about NZ and UK polls (which are quite similiar).  He remarked that he would be a lot happier if his election had to be held by November 2008 rather than May 2010. I have to agree – a three year term might be too short but a five year term is frustratingly long. Mind you I am not sure Gordon Brown will even last to the end of it.

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Blog Bits

May 15th, 2008 at 3:58 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks has ordered a book: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I must borrow it after he gets it!

Jeanette Fitzsimons blogs, asking whether the wheels are falling off the ETS. She addresses the issue of the so called thermal moratorium and how Genesis, an SEO, is using a loophole to get around this.

Whale Oil has photos of more potential EFA breaches. Russell Fairbrother’s caravan certainly looks like an advertisement with statements about proud to support interest free loans, nuclear free NZ.

Blair Mulholland asks whether it is worse to have a swastika on your roof, or preventing someone from doing it. While I think Councils go way overboard with their controls on what you can do on your house, I think there is a property rights argument that there should be some restrictions. Put it like this. If you buy your place for $500,000 and someone buys the house either side of you and covers them in swastikas, or even paintings of men’s penises, then your house value will drop significantly as there won’t be many buyers. Note in this case the swastika was the Hindu one, not the Nazi one.

The Visible Hand in Economics looks at the case for and againgst a tax free threshold.

Jordan Carter looks at the travails of Gordon Brown in the UK.

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Boris wins

May 3rd, 2008 at 12:23 pm by David Farrar

Superb – Boris Johnson has beaten Ken Livingstone by 53% to 47% (very close to YouGov prediction).

Labour MPs are saying Gordon Brown has six months to turn things around or he will face a coup.

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UK Labour thrashed in local elections

May 3rd, 2008 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

The results are yet to be announced for the London Mayoralty (Zimbabwe is almost faster with its results) but the expectation is that Boris Johnson has won it off Ken Livingstone, as Labour have been mauled across the board.

Pundits said a loss of more than 200 seats would be very bad for Labour. Well they have lost a staggering 331 seats – a once in a generation annihilation. In fact Labour only came third in the popular vote with 24% behind Lib Dems on 25% and Conservatives on 44%.

It is now being openly speculated that Prime Minister Gordon Brown may be rolled before the election. He is lucky in that there is no general election needed for two years, but unlucky in that that gives lots of time for discontent to simmer.

Congrats to all my friends in the Conservatives – must have been a good night of celebrations.

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Gordon catching up to Helen

April 26th, 2008 at 5:47 pm by David Farrar

Gordon Brown has been criticised in the UK Press for hiring his eighth spin doctor.

Yet it passes without comment back in NZ that Helen Clark, for a country 1/20th the size, has nine media and communications staff members (as of Dec 2007).

Helen has a Chief Press Secretary, two Press Secretaries, a Communications Manager, four Communications Advisors and a Communications Assistant.

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Labour style tax cuts

April 22nd, 2008 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

Gordon Brown is showing Michael Cullen how to cut taxes Labour style. He has abolished the 10% tax rate on low income earners.

Well that sounds good.

Only until you realise he has not abolished it so the first few thousand are not taxed. He has abolished it and replaced it with the standard 20% tax rate.

Many Labour MPs are unhappy.

So we need to be careful here if Dr Cullen talks of abolishing tax rates, and ask what will he be replacing them with?

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