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Politics

Gordon Brown and the Election That Never Was

“There I was waiting at the Church….”, James Callaghan uttered this infamous quip at the Labour Party Conference in the Autumn of 1978.

Then, as now, a Labour Prime Minister who had guided the Party through some very rough waters in the wake of his slippery predecessor and emerged ahead of the Tories in the polls, was on the cusp of announcing an Election date, decided against and was swept from power by what Macmillan would have described as; “Events, dear boy. Events!”

I happen to think however, that the parallels between Sunny Jim and Big Gordie are pretty spurious.

In 1978 Callaghan, although personally popular, led a Government that had been forced to negotiate a humiliating deal with the IMF resulting in savage cuts in the Public Services and, more importantly an unfair perception that the Labour Party couldn’t be trusted with the economy, a legacy that took until John Major’s nemesis with the ERM to reverse.

This time around Brown is the steward of the best economic conditions for a generation, leads a Government that has turned the country around in every measurable sense and faces a shambolic Opposition.

I am disappointed that we aren’t now preparing for an Election, and the presence of Rupert Murdoch at Number 10 recently leaves me wondering who is in charge. I hoped we had left the media obsession behind.

The Tories temporary bounce in the polls is just that. Transient, as Dave’s smarmy performance contained no substance, and once the his tax proposals have been forensically examined it will all unravel.

The Tories propose; “abolition of Stamp Duty for first time buyers”. Define please. If someone has paid off their mortgage and then decides to purchase, how do you check if they have had a loan in the past? Would a non dom tax exile qualify if it’s their first home in the UK. What happens if a new couple buy and only one of them has never been a home owner? Etc, etc.

But I do worry that Brown will now be perceived as a ditherer and not capable of being decisive. That’s one thing that Tony Blair could never have been accused of but his greatest strength ended up being his Achilles heel, the result being the Iraq disaster.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Gordon Brown and the Election That Never Was

  1. Hi mate.
     
    I recently read Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain, and it describes the IMF crisis on pages 366-70. The irony is that the treasury in 1976 not only overestimated the UK’s PSBR by 100%, but also gave a wildly exaggerated estimate of the proportion of wealth spent by government – 60%, when the truer figure was nearer 46%, and by 1979 42%. Healey is quoted as saying that if he’d been given accurate figures, he might never have needed to go to the IMF at all. The implication being that the Treasury was more interested in engineering public spending cuts than in working for the Chancellor of the day.
     
    As for diamond Dave’s tax proposals, 10 spotter’s guide points for every time they explain they will be funded by cutting "red tape", aka public services to vulnerable people.
     
    I don’t want to see an election yet. I want to see what Brown can do in the job, and I want to feel inspired. The reason people like the Beeb’s Nick Robinson are talking about this being weakness on Brown’s part is because they’re macho public school twits, disappointed at not seeing a willy waving competition between Brown and Cameron.
     
    Brown is the 12th PM since the war. By my reckoning, only 6 came to power as the result of a General Election (Attlee, Churchill, Wilson, Heath, Thatcher and Blair). Please correct me if I’m wrong! Labour were voted in, they’ve chosen Brown to lead the government, Brown has a democratic mandate and should crack on with the job. (IMHO)

    Posted by Andy | October 8, 2007, 5:16 pm
  2. You summed it up, as ever, to perfection. Cheers for the stats. Marr’s book along with Schama’s one on art will be on my "to read in hospital" list for 18th Oct on.

    Posted by Dermot | October 8, 2007, 8:40 pm
  3. Well done Darling, so the Govt are to change the inheritance tax threashold, absolutly nothing to do with what the Tories announced last week obviously, Farcical from a smug govt. with no credible opposition, it’s like being stuck in 1983 again.

    Posted by Michael | October 9, 2007, 6:04 pm
  4. Well done Darling, so the Govt are to change the inheritance tax threashold, absolutly nothing to do with what the Tories announced last week obviously, Farcical from a smug govt. with no credible opposition, it’s like being stuck in 1983 again.

    Posted by Michael | October 9, 2007, 6:04 pm
  5. Well done Darling, so the Govt are to change the inheritance tax threashold, absolutly nothing to do with what the Tories announced last week obviously, Farcical from a smug govt. with no credible opposition, it’s like being stuck in 1983 again.

    Posted by Michael | October 9, 2007, 6:05 pm
  6. Whoops a daisy, a bit heavy with the old clicking finger it would appear, sorry folks.

    Posted by Michael | October 9, 2007, 6:11 pm
  7. OK Michael – I think we get your point 😉
     
    OK Michael – I think we get your point 😉
     
    OK Michael – I think we get your point 😉
     
     

    Posted by Richard | October 10, 2007, 8:23 pm

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