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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Brown’

As Stanmore Politics reported, yesterday saw a high profile visit by ex-prime minister Tony Blair to Harrow West.

 Blair dismissed the polls and spoke confidently about Labour’s chances, but not everyone in the media was convinced.

 Writing for the Telegraph, James Kirkup said the strangest thing was that Labour strategists thought the visit was a good idea.

“What propelled Mr Brown into No 10 in 2007 was antipathy to Mr Blair: voters, and especially Labour voters, had had enough of him, his grin and his interventionist wars.

“For those voters, Mr Brown’s principal offer was that he was not Tony Blair. What message does this send to them?”

The Guardian was more forgiving, running with the headline ‘Tony Blair’s tan brings much-needed glow to Labour on the road’, but went on to say:

“Blair’s appearance in Harrow West may indicate how worried Labour has become.

“A Tory victory in this seat would hand Cameron a majority of 84 – almost double Margaret Thatcher’s majority in 1979.”

Jim Pickard asked on the FT blog: ‘Tony Blair rides to the rescue’ but then added:

“I’ve put down a bet of £20 at Ladbrokes on a Tory win

“Blair said Labour still had a chance of winning. If you say so.”

For the Mail, the question was why Blair was not campaigning with Gordon Brown, adding:

“Mr Blair, who looked extremely thin but deeply tanned, offered only lukewarm support for his successor as he attended a clinic in Harrow.”

What do you think about Tony Blair visiting Harrow. Perfect pitch or last ditch? As always let Stanmore Politics know.

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There was a mixed reaction for Tony Blair in Harrow this morning as he joined the Labour election campaign.

According to one onlooker the former Prime Minister was greeted by a ‘small crowd of unhappy people’ when he visited a health clinic in Rayners Lane.

He was there to campaign alongside incumbent Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas.

However asked having his blood pressure taken at the Alexandra Avenue Surgery, Blair appeared relaxed and chatty – and rather suntanned after being stuck in Israel due to the Ash cloud.

Asked whether he was healthier than Gordon Brown, he quipped: “It’s a tough job being prime minister – I know.”

Even the revelation that the clinic doctor was ‘a Tory man’ didn’t faze him.

‘Whoops,” he joked. “I’m trying to work out how to handle that one, I’m not sure I
can.”

He was optimistic about Labour’s chances, despite another day of poor polling for the party. “I don’t think [Brown] has failed at all,” he said.

 “I think that Labour has got every chance of succeeding.”

He said it was strange looking at the campaign from the outside, adding:

“When you start in an election campaign, particularly when you have got a new thing, which is the debates, then it will all revolve around a bit of who’s up, who’s down and all the rest of it.

“But once you get into the final days, I think people will really focus their minds on who has the best answers for the future, who has got the energy, the drive to take the country forward, who has got the answers to the questions the future is posing.”

Blair praised Thomas for his work as an MP, saying he had done a fantastic job.

Three campaigners for Rachel Joyce, the Conservative candidate for the constituency, met Blair as he left the clinic.

But a repeat of Gordon Brown’s Rochdale incident was narrowly avoided. Unite political director Charlie Whelan tweeted after:

“Great moment as Tony Blair forgot he had his microphone on as he left interview but TV bod asked for it back.”

Meanwhile David Cameron responded to Blair’s return by joking that it would improve Tango sales.

Both Gareth Thomas and Tony McNulty were elected in 1997 on the wave of New Labour support.

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The next parliament “will be full of hacks, lobbyists and previously failed candidates”, or so said Tony McNulty at a political panel event last night.

In what one could interpret as a veiled reference to the Harrow East MP’s Conservative challenger Bob Blackman, who has run for parliament three times already without success, McNulty said we should be careful what we wish for.

Men in black: (from left) Brake, Pickles, Dale and McNulty

“I think accountability will be on May 6th,” he said, but added “the notion that there is going to be the city on the hill I don’t think is the case.”

He was speaking at a panel event featuring Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake. At the Total Politics Question Time event, held near Westminster on Thursday evening, McNulty said he had some sympathy with the notion of Primaries as a way of electing parliamentary candidates, a sentiment supported by Pickles, the MP for Brentwood and Ongar.

Quizzed on everything from accountability to diversity, the topic on everyone’s mind seemed to be the allegations in Andrew Rawnsley’s book about bullying in Downing Street and tensions between Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.

Pointing out that during the First World War, Asquith and Lloyd George were known to have had their share of arguments, McNulty did not seem overly concerned about the revelations.

“People lose their temper in high octane situations – shock horror,” he said. “You can’t have a convivial relationship between a prime minister and a chancellor all the time.”

“I’m sure it will be a very nice book but I don’t believe that it is gospel.”

The MP added that when he had worked closely with Brown over he 42 days detention issue, Brown had not raised his voice at him.

“I raised my voice, but that’s another story for Andrew Rawnsley’s next book!”

Responding to an audience-member who asked why Brown had not called an inquiry, McNulty said: “You cam’t rush out on every single story on 24 hour news and demand an inquiry.”

Saying Labour still had a long way to go in terms of diversity, McNulty applauded the Conservatives for their efforts .

“It’s fairly snide of some commentators to say ‘oh, this is just window dressing’. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

“I think that’s thrilling for British democracy. Anything that gets a much richer and more divisive House of Commons has got to be good.”

Although he said it would be “quite astonishing” if his Liberal Democrat opponent, Iranian-born Nahid Boethe won the election, he added:

“I have always said my successor should be Asian.”

And faced with the question about the Tory lead slipping in the polls, McNulty was clear on why.

“Cameron had a free ride unscrutinized in any sort of depth, but people are starting to look closer.

“It’s not enough to say ‘vote for me, I’m not them’.”

He said there was not the enthusiasm for change there had been in the lead up to the 1997 election. “They are not doing well because they haven’t got that much to offer.”

And despite the panel host Iain Dale reminding of how McNulty had been ‘slaughtered’ over expenses, the MP said he would still encourage his nieces and nephews to pursue a Westminster career.
<!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–>

<!–[endif]–>“I’d say 100 per cent go into politics,” he said.

“There’s still some good and substance about it.”

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According to blogger Confessions of a Political Animal, the impact of replacing Britain’s current First Past the Post system would be dependent on the share of vote held by the Lib Dems.

Gordon Brown has been discussing the possibility of moving to an Alternative Vote system recently, and MPs are due to vote on whether there should be a referendum to decide it next week. This is what Political Animal had to say:

“The effect of AV on this seat would be heavily dependent on how the Lib Dem’s 14% vote share splits on redistribution, with a small margin in the Conservatives’ favour being enough to overhaul Labour, especially with a UKIP share of around 2% already swinging in their favour.

“However, the mixed demographics and electoral history of this area suggest that preferences might be pretty evenly split: Livingstone had just a 0.4% lead on second preferences here.”

The Conservatives have already announced their opposition to the plan, and what will happen is anyone’s guess. But Tony McNulty seems to be fairly positive about the idea:

“The notion that British people should at least have a referendum on whether they think Alternative Vote (AV) is better than First Past the Post [FPTP] is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

“What’s good about AV is that it maintains absolutely the constituency link.

“I don’t agree with this populist notion from David Cameron that he should make ten per cent less MPs. It sounds great, but it means the average seat is going up to 110 or 120 thousand and it starts to dilute that personal link between the MP and the electorate.”

See the full interview with Mr McNulty here. In the mean time, do you think electoral reform would be a good thing? And what would it mean for Harrow?

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Ever loyal to the Labour party, Tony McNulty has criticised yesterday’s PMQ’s plot yesterday by Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt.

 The former cabinet ministers attempted a coup by sending out a letter calling for a secret ballot to decide Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s future as leader.

Cabinet ministers were slow to comment in support of Brown, though most released statement by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, only a handful of backbenchers showed their support for ‘Hoonwitt’.

McNulty dismissed the plot, saying it: ‘”will be as fleeting as the melting snow outside

And speaking on BBC Radio 2, he said:

“The shame is this was on the end of a gaffe-prone week for the Conservatives.”

McNulty also argued the statements in support of Brown were by no means lukewarm, as reported here:

He said cabinet members were ‘fed up’ with having to constantly reaffirm their support for the PM.

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