And nor is Gordon Brown.
For the medics among you (and a lot of doctors visit this site, for some reason) I am on Coartem, Ciprolex and paracetamol. Am typing with one hand as I have a drip in the other.
Raised from my sickbed by the sound of Michael White and Fraser Nelson on Sky News. (Must get someone to move the TV so I can see them. On the other hand…) If all the mainstream media can dish up is opposing arseholes, I need to say something.
First up is to note the absolute New Labour meltdown in the local council elections. This is almost a complete wipeout. In Lincolnshire, New Labour lost 17 of its 21 seats. (Excellent Lincoln council elections website which was updated in real time all night).
Look at the graphics. In this whole county vote, Labour fell into third place with just 11%! It is worth looking in detail at the graphics because you see that the Tories got well less than half the vote but three quarters of the seats, The Lib Dems got 19% of the vote but only five seats. A strong case for proportional representation – and a reminder why self interested Tories will fight it.
In Bristol, New Labour lost 8 of the 9 seats it was defending. Bristol elects one third of its seats a year, but the Lib Dems still managed to take overall control of the council – a good response to those who try to terrify people into voting New Labour lest they “Let the Tories in”.
Thanks to Bristol Blogger for his brilliant marathon stint.
In Central Bedfordshire New Labour did not win even one council seat. It is a new council, so direct comparison is difficult.
But from the three overnight counts, New Labour lost 85% of its councillors! I don’t think even the 1920’s Liberals went through this sudden a massacre.
Now to the really unpleasant subject. James Purnell. Fraser Nelson, the crazed neo-con with whom nobody in his home country agrees, praised Purnell (and Blears) in unequivocal terms as a “Great reforming social security minister”.
Purnell’s instincts towards social security were precisely those of Norman Tebbit, only mingled with less compassion. He attempted in effect to reintroduce the Victorian distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, opposition to which was one of the founding motives of the Labour Party. Like Blair, he had no left wing beliefs, but saw the takeover of a moribund Labour Party as a simple career opportunity.
John Prescott’s description of ‘Not so much a Blairite as a careerite’ is apt, except it misses the fact that the two are synonymous.
There has seldom been a more obvious lie than Purnell’s claim in his resignation letter not to be interested in the leaderhip. If it were true, why say it? (Actually there was a more obvious lie, in Caroline Flint’s interview with Sky News denying that she had ever discussed with anyone giving Gordon the heave-ho. When that woman lies, she starts babbling at a quite incredible pace. I thought they were playing her at the wrong speed).
Purnell is positioning himself for a leadership election after the coming disastrous general election. The interesting thing is that very many of his Cabinet colleagues obviously think he might have a chance. A dozen of them have been interviewed (remember I have been stuck immobile listening all night) and every single one has gone out of their way to stress how much they like James Purnell, what a good friend he is, how they respect him as a minister. They have all parroted the same line, that they simply do not share his judgement in this matter – as though it were a minor difference opinion.
It is not a minor difference of opinion. With the party facing the road to oblivion, Purnell has, purely for career interest, stabbed his leader and his party in the back at the worst possible time. Ordinary Labour members, including the councillors who have virtually all lost their seats, are spitting blood at Purnell. Prescott can spit blood at Purnell because he has no further ambition. But all those cabinet ministers who are still desperately ambitious, are still being desperately nice to Purnell.
This is another example of how MPs have failed to notice that the Westminster village is not the only place that counts. No matter how much the Woodwards and Milibands may want to suck up to Purnell, the activists will not forgive him or Blears, especially during the hard slog of opposition. And the days when New Labour’s “elite” MPs could ignore the views of their constituency activists died a month ago.