Wednesday 6 January 2010


I suppose that the story of the day, apart from the weather of course, is the cack handed coup disorganised by the lovely Patricia Hewitt and the even lovelier Geoff Hoon. (The Daily Mail referred to them as Labour's big guns!*!*!)

They have written to all Labour MPs proposing that the issue of Brown’s leadership be sorted for once and all. Mr Hoon and Mrs Hewitt said the party was "deeply divided" over the leadership. "The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited......... We hope that you will support this proposal [for a secret ballot]."

Brown, who was told of the challenge minutes before he arrived in the Commons, had to wait two and a half hours before any members of his Cabinet came out publicly in his support. It was 3 pm before Woodward, the Northern Ireland Secretary, condemned the move as "a huge distraction that nobody wants". Fifteen minutes later Mandelson, released a statement urging colleagues not to overreact but to carry on with the business of government. Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson and Jack Straw, tonight backed Brown. David Miliband and Harriet Harman have yet to make any comment.

Both Hoon and Hewitt are arch Blairites. Hewitt left Cabinet on Brown’s appointment as Prime Minister citing personal reasons; however Hoon was Chief Whip for a time under Brown.

Philip Webster, political editor of The Times writes that this coup may join the lengthening list of failed attempts to remove Gordon Brown. If the first reactions of Labour MPs are taken as a guide, it appears that Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt may be the wrong people delivering their message at precisely the wrong time. Labour's polling position has improved in recent weeks and there was genuine anger among MPs this lunchtime that the leadership question had been reopened in such a devastating way. It was timed to coincide with the first Prime Minister's Question Time of the new year. Brown knew all about it before he entered the chamber but that did not stop him producing one of his best recent Commons performances against David Cameron.

There was no immediate sign that the coup was gaining traction. That does not mean it will inevitably falter. If the two senior MPs have made their move knowing that a Cabinet minister, or ministers, are ready to join the revolt, then Brown is indeed in severe trouble, possibly fatally so.

Let us hope that the coup fails dismally. Labour’s only chance of success lies with the removal of Gordon Brown.

(I'm having difficulty imagining what they are discussing in the picture above. Fishing stories? looks like whatever it is old Pat's is bigger than Geoff's.)


  1. 2 has-beens attempting to oust a never will be.
    Comedy hour has begun early this year and Labour for all they'll do better without Brown have managed to come up with the most cack-handed way of doing it.

  2. Is that Jim Devines shelves behind them?

  3. Beautifully summed up QM....

  4. Lord no Anon. His were far bigger than that. After all we were paying.....

  5. I see our Jim Murphy was mentioned on Newsnight by Paxman as one of the cabinet ministers who promised to support the hoon and hewitt but backed out. Eric Joyce's blog mentioned 2 cabinet ministers who chickened out aswell. Toenails Robinson said that Millipede, harperson, Spud, darling and strawman had told him they were unhappy and wanted a new leader.
    Doesn't really inspire confidence in the gorgon !

  6. Brown will hang on. He's a tough bloke. But this does show the back stabbing continues in the labour party. It happens in all parties but it's more pronounced within labour by the sound of it.

    You're right about hasbeens Tris. Patricia Hewitt. She who has her massively-paid heath job all lined up. Her irritatingly condescending voice is like cotton wool through my teeth.

    Hoon - what can I say? Lobbydog is suggesting Hoon intends to stand down at the election. That may prove to be a sensible idea.

  7. Anon:

    You can always trust Jim to be untrustworthy. He must have wondered about what was best for Jim, and come up with the idea that it was the status quo.

    They are a bunch of spineless muppets. I suppose that no one wants the job now. Who wants to be PM for 4 months and then spend 18 years in opposition?

    They really are the most lacklustre bunch I've come across in any walk of life. I can seriously say that I heartily dislike and mistrust, or distrust every single one of them. And as for Brown I would stretch that to hate.

    I can't stand the site or the sound of him. He's a smarmy, self serving, incompetent arse. Because he wanted this job and the last one despite being unfit to do either, our economy is in the mess, our soldiers are dying, our pensioners are the poorest in Europe, and to have a Scot (or North Britisher) for prime minister and to have such shoddy treatment for Scotland is beyond belief.

    I hope he gets what’s coming to him.

  8. Subrosa. As you know Hoon sent men to Iraq and Afghanistan with sub standard equipment. He's a knave. If someone wanted to put him against a wall and shoot him, I would raise no objection whatsoever. He should be in The Hague with Blair. You're right about Hewitt's voice. She's a condescending bitch of a woman. I thought she had already taken up her post with the Healthcare people.

    I wish they would stand and have the humiliation of being soundly beaten by .....well, by whoever, the Cat's Protection league for all I care.

  9. So, Tris, are you saying you'd like the Tories to win the next UK general election? What good would that do for Scotland?

    They are arch unionists and will do everything they can to put the brakes on Holyrood.

    Brown may be a washed up party hack but at least he joined his Party cos he had a streak of decent outrage at the way the world runs. That snivelling fuck Cameron signed up to his immoral crusade to entrench capitalism and the power of the elite.

    I'm very dismayed at what Labour has become (though accepting that power always corrupts) but fear the Tories are a greater evil still. Would we have had a peace agreement in Northern Ireland, devolution for Scotland and Wales, the minimum wage, social partnerships or record spending on the NHS if Johnny Major had won in 97? Would we nowt. But we'd still have had the wars, the obscene expenditure on arms, the bankers running us all into the ground and the super rich getting super richer.

    The prospect of a Tory election win gives me the severe boak.

    PS i left the Labour Party after Michael Foot's fall from grace (not exactly yesterday) but still consider Hoon and Hewitt to be a pair of traitorous slugs.

  10. The revolt is over
    It’s time to call it a day
    They’ve burst your party’s balloon
    And taken the Hoon away

  11. naldo,

    I do hope not! It surely isn't like we are living in 1979. Cammie is hardly Thatcher! He is altogether much more human.

    But as to the article, good post!

    Hoon and Hewitt have nothing to lose by doing this, one is a cabinet has been and the other is resigning as an MP the next GE. But the interesting thing was the slow and unhappy words of support from the likes of Straw, Miliband [both of them].

    Labour seem totally unable to run a stable leadership never mind the country! Gods! We need, nay, demand a general election so we can elect our government..most of this government is unelected, being either lords or like Broon a party appointee unapposed by anyone.

  12. Naldo:

    Great comment. Thank you. I have to disagree on a few points though :-)

    No, I don’t want a Tory government for Scotland. But I have nothing but contempt for Brown and his party. The Tories did away with wages boards and were happy to see people work for next to nothing. Faced with a problem of wages and benefits being too close to encourage work, they reduced benefits. They also reduced the value of the pension so that our pensioners are amongst the poorest in Europe. That was despicable. It was paid for by a reduction in the tax of big earners. But did Blair or Brown do anything about that? No, absolutely nothing, as a result of which the old die in their thousands every year from cold and malnutrition... after 13 years of so called socialism. And the minimum wage is still painfully low.

    Although Brown has almost doubled spending on the NHS, most of it has been swallowed up by administration, consultants’ salaries hikes, GP terms and conditions improvements. I still need to wait a week, sometimes a fortnight, to see my GP. My local hospital, of which I have recently had the bad fortune to have experience, is a filthy hole that frankly I’m frightened of. (Yes, now in the control of the SNP and I have a meeting planned to do something about a complaint to the minister.) The devolution settlement was pathetically inadequate. Of course labour was supposed to be in power always. The West Lothian problem was never dealt with and causes to this day deep resentment in England, and quite rightly, and the block grant and fewer powers than local councils is a damned insult to us. It was, in fairness, John Major who started the talks with the IRA after that stupid old woman thought, like Bush, that you could defeat Terrorism by fighting it, and, in her case, joining forces with other terrorist groups to do it.

    I agree about the super rich and the bankers. There would have been no change there. But I don’t know whether Cameron would have been as stupid as to try to claw back money from the painfully badly paid by doubling their tax. That took some doing.

    Brown disgusts me. The Tories do too, but at least they do what they say on the tin. Labour was supposed to be FOR the poor, not for the poor bankers. The Tories will harm Scotland, but Labour has done that too. Because of Brown’s deep hatred of the SNP and Salmond (because he’s better than him, maybe or maybe because he came along just as Brown was getting Buggin’s turn at the top job), he has gone out of his way to hurt us. I want Brown to see that we don’t accept this, and, I admit that like many other independence supporters, I expect that an English Tory Government, for that is what it will always be, will make the more thinking of our countrymen reconsider their desire to be the last remains of the empire of mother England.

  13. Oh brilliant Munguin McCartney...

    Now Hoon belongs to yesterday!

  14. Dean:

    In fairness you could be a lot more human than Thatcher and still be a monster from hell. (Not that I'm suggesting that Dave boy is!!!)

    I think that all Hoon and Hewitt have done is to embarrass Brown, but in the end he won because it would be a complete madman that would want the job before the election, and who fits that bill better than Brown. By the end of May that will be a very different prospect.

    I noted too the fact that it took hours for anyone to come out for it, and that it was very muted when it happened. Only Johnson said he was the best man for the job. Endorsed by Johnson. Big deal.

    Still the dying days of an old government are filled with this kind of thing. Wee John Major had his share of it back in the day.

  15. I'm still trying to work out if this is some machiavellian plot which has a hidden agenda or if it is two very stupid people playing silly buggers.

    For the moment I'll go with the second one.

    It only just makes it as a conspiracy because there are two letter writers and as time goes on it looks increasingly as if they are the only two people involved in the whole damp squib. If either Hoon or Hewitt had dropped out before the letter was written it would have been classed as just a loner with a grudge. The minimum for a conspiracy is two people so they only just made it as a duo.

    As far as coups go it wasn't top notch because even with the letter and the proposed vote there appears to be nothing which could be used as a legal lever to remove Brown. The mechanism to elect or challenge a Labour Party leader is explained on a BBC Page.

    What H&H were proposing was a vote of confidence in Brown among the Labour MP's. Even if they had got the result they wanted in a vote they still had to rely on Gordon actually taking the hint and resigning which on past behaviour with, "Barnacle Brown", is not a foregone conclusion.

    H&H don't appear to have any allies, have a plan beyond trying to get Gordon to resign with a vote of confidence which isn't in the rule book or have a nominated challenger for the hopefully vacant post of Leader of the Labour Party.

    In summary, no plot, no plan, no clue.

    I keep thinking, "There must be more to it than that", with paranoid thoughts that maybe Brown actually thought it up himself to bolster his position in the Labour Party because sometimes it's difficult to actually believe how incompetent the whole attempt to topple Brown has been.

  16. Doug... I'm still shaking with laughter at your anaylsis.... but istn't incompetence the hallmark of these people?

    It seems that there may have been others involved... our own dear Jim Murphy has been cited as one of these... along with the Haridan and the Straw man, but who knows.

    Brown is certainly Machiavellian to have planned the whole thing ...

    If it weren't tragic it would certainly be funnier than an episode of The Simpsons.