Not Dead Yet 11

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.

Interesting, eh?

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.

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11 thoughts on “Not Dead Yet

  • Grumpy Old Man

    Craig. Do hope you get well in good time. My Father contracted Maleria in India in the late 50’s. Just to cheer you up, it took him over 20 years to eradicate it.

  • Craig


    Thanks. I first got it in 1986! But then I have lived a life that makes Bear Grylls look an amateur.

  • Jives

    Get well soonest Craig..

    I,too,am delighted at the annihilation of NuLabour.


    My old man fought many bouts of malaria after being in West Africa in the 60’s/70’s but he hasn’t had a problem with it for 25 years now.

  • subrosa

    Ye cannae keep a guid man doon as they say in Dundee – but of course you know that Craig. I must say I’m very impressed by the quality of the one-handed typing, it puts many two-handers to shame.

    Anyway my views on your post for what they’re worth.

    I was talking to my own MP yesterday and he said if labour didn’t make 20% then Wednesday would be more important than ever. We shall have to wait and see.

    The English council results aren’t surprising from this distance. I find it refreshing that Bristol has been taken by the libdems.

    Of course Purnell’s a careerist, it’s as obvious as the nose on my face. Some reporter on Sky was outside his constituency home this morning and mentioned the locals said Purnell’s seldom there. That sums him up – being constantly visible within the Westminster bubble is far more important to career politicians plus of course, they have their media cronies at hand.

    Once again you’re bang on the button regarding some of the others. What an ineffectual, selfish bunch they are.

    I wonder if Hutton’s resignation will make any difference.

    A change of topic: Glasgow council by-election results were rather disappointing although many diehard SNP supporters refuse to admit it.

  • KevinB

    The way you describe Purnell (I know nothing about him) serves to emphasis the fact that we have, in effect, an American ‘system’ of democracy. Two near identical parties that swap over every decade or so but the direction of the ship never changes.

    This NuLabour debacle might change the overall picture a little.

    ……actually when government itself is trashed in the fashion of the last few weeks is that not a possible precursor to a bottom-up fascistic revolution of some kind.

    Mussolini started as a ‘man of the people’, the enemy of a hated Italian government. He conflated the interests of his government, once he’d taken over, with that of the corporations. Government/big business became one.

    Fascism, like Communism, was a financier’s fraud, preying on the passions of misdirected people, betraying them, serving the interests of the elite, centralising power not redistributing it downwards.

    Are we being set up for some kind of repeat of the same.

    Obama has already created his youth squads/truth squads.

    One wonders what’s in the pipeline. Nearly everyone now hates ‘government’.

  • JimmyGiro

    Why don’t diseases catch diseases?

    Maybe we could make an anti-virus virus.

    Speaking of viruses, which side has Harriet ‘sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice’ Harman jumped; Brown or Purnell… or Harman.

  • George Laird

    Dear Craig

    James Purnell in my opinion is a slimy little creep.

    I stuck this up on the Guardian to him becuase he is so up himself.

    Dear James Purnell MP (Temp)

    “The last few weeks have been deeply uncomfortable for anyone who believes that politics is not a means for enriching yourself but a vehicle for us to change our society”.

    Has it been deeply uncomfortable for those dodging pay Capital Gains Tax?

    “All politicians are under scrutiny”.

    And some should be under arrest by the Police for fraud and misconduct in Public Office.

    “Everyone agrees we need to reform MPs’ expenses. A growing number agree we need to open up democracy”.

    Have you missed that Labour MPs hand over seats to their children? Is that the opening up you mean?

    “The prime minister has already set out a radical reform of the MPs’ expenses system to end the gentlemen’s club where members make up the rules for themselves”.

    How long has Gordon Brown been an MP?

    “Some of my colleagues in cabinet have begun to set out their own ideas of how we can reform the democratic process”.

    Someone in the Cabinet has ideas?

    “Constitutional experts and politicians should be involved, but on an equal basis as other citizens”.

    Are you seriously suggesting the working class pleb among the Public Honours Unit appointees to give the whitewash some credibility, a bit of tokenism for the peasants.

    “Money means power”.

    Is that why benefits are so low?

    “Politics is the means by which we seek a fair distribution of power, wealth and opportunity in society”.

    In case you missed it Purnell, the gap between rich and poor under New Labour has widened.

    “Labour wants to increase the power of the powerless”.

    I think that statement is an out and out lie; you did cut the funding in the legal aid budget and restrict it to deny poor people representation.

    “If we are serious about opening up politics to different sorts of people, we must avoid creating a system where only the wealthy can afford to be parliamentarians”.

    Can you explain why in Glasgow, the Labour Party is called the Labour Mafia?

    Democratic reform matters.

    In fact it matters so much that the Labour Government has set up so many unaccountable NGOs so that ordinary people are effectively shut out of decision making in their local communities.

    “If the people have power they will use it to make the changes in society we need”.

    As soon as the General Election is called people like you should be put out on the street permanently.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • Abe Rene

    Good to hear that you have survived malaria (with a little help from modern medicine). New Labour getting a pasting in elections – well, that’s to be expected. But why are you ignoring really important events like Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, and the death of David Carradine, star of the great series ‘Kung Fu’? Just think of those forgettable pearls of wisdom that would trip off Master Somebody’s lips now and then.

  • Polo

    Was sharing your agonies of not being able to blog at this time.

    Glad to see you piercing the mist.

    Politics is clearly superior to the placebo where malaria is concerned.

    Keep it up.

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