Gordon Brown's Very Bad Day


Labour partisan Hopi Sen gives the incident a positive spin:

I’m willing to go out an a limb and say that the number of people who feel sympathy for Gordon Brown over all this is a greater percentage of the population than say they will vote Labour. It’s not that people will agree with him, it’s just that a lot of people know they’re not perfect and would also say stupid things if on tape all the time.

Paul Owen and Andrew Sparrow see no silver lining:

[T]he two key points here are that he seemed two-faced and he seemed to see all discussion of immigration as bigotry. The first is an aspect of character that it's hard to feel sympathy for, and the second is something that a large section of the electorate feel sensitive and angry about...On the other hand, it has to be said that the more the media concentrate on Gordon Brown the less they keep reminding people that a guy called Nick Clegg is standing for PM.

James Forsyth:

I suspect Nick Clegg will also suffer some collateral damage as it will push immigration to the top of the political agenda, an area where the Lib Dems with their plan for an amnesty for illegal immigrants are on the wrong side of public opinion.

The electioneering car-crash of "Gordon Brown meets Gillian Duffy" may just have put paid to all hope of Labour surviving another day courtesy of the resurgence of the Lib Dems.

The irony. Throughout this campaign, women have been virtually invisible. And I say this with no disrespect to our new First Ladies of politics, but frankly they've been there to look decorative, supportive, and ideally fecund. They are allowed the occasional innocuous tweet or video appearance, but let's not fool ourselves, they are not there because they have spent decades on the political frontline and have something to say.


What I find myself wondering though is what the response would be to the story if it was brought to us in the traditional form of an "unanmed source"? It would be denied of course and called a smear or "tittle tattle". This story actually gives strength to those sort of stories in a way, especially in relation to Brown.

Does anyone believe that he would be having an epiphany in private and apologising to this woman if he hadn't been caught saying it? Of course he wouldn't.

I think opening the British labour market to the new EU-member countries was one of the best, even noble, things this government has done. If you believe that Britons should be able to work across the EU it's logical to believe that Poles and Lats should be able to as well. And if you believe in the free movement of goods and capital then there's a certain logic to believing in the free movement of labour too. And you can also believe that the accession of the eastern european states has been one of the greatest advances in liberty (at least in some sense of the term) since 1989.

You don't have to agree with this argument and it's not disreputable not to but Gordon could still have made this argument, he could have made a case for himself and his party's record. But he chose not to. This too is feeble. And, alas, all too typical.

[T]he Conservative and Labor parties have issued dark pleas to the voters: This could be the very last general election to be held under those very British rules; this could be the end of politics as we know it; and so on.

Maybe these dire threats will win voters back by next Thursday. But at the moment, it seems that the man on the Clapham omnibus, like his Tea Partying colleagues across the Atlantic, is perfectly happy to vote for the end of politics as we know it. The faster the better, please.

Michael Tomasky doesn't approve of the parallel:

[S]o the Lib Dems are like the Tea Partiers. Exactly why? Because they want to shrink dramatically the role of government? Well, no. They like government quite a lot. Because they despise taxation in all its forms? Well, no, that doesn't seem true either. Because both have as their main issues electoral reform and proportional representation? Well, no – nothing about process or democratic reform is remotely on the Tea Party agenda, let alone central to it. Because the Lib Dems are inherently suspicious of a potential head of government who isn't as British as all other past prime ministers have been, in the way US Tea Partiers suspect Barack Obama's origins? Well, no. If there's anyone in this race who fits that description, it's Clegg himself, with his Dutch mother and Spanish wife and half-Russian father.

So it's just that they're both, you know, some kind of new force. You, amateur that you are, may think the fact that they have utterly nothing in common should prevent the making of such analogies. But that just shows how little you understand about column-writing.

Fact checking a political talking point, Nicholas Timmins looks at whether there is a correlation between hung parliaments and deficits:

Guess what? Governments with clear single party majorities tend to have the worst structural balances - headed by Greece, Japan, the UK and the good old US of A. Countries with coalition or minority governments - the Scandinavians, the Belgians and the Dutch, for example, tend to have much better ones.

Nothing, of course, is black and white. There is a fair amount of scatter in the scatter diagram. Majoritarian France has a relatively low structural deficit, minority Portugal a high one.