Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brown and the Libs: Some Questions

Politics is not rocket science, and the motives of those who engage in it are usually pretty transparent, but to me, there are an unusually large number of unanswered questions about the strange affair of Gordon Brown's attempt to bring senior Lib Dems into his Cabinet. Here's a few that haven't already been exhaustively covered on today's blogosphere.

* What will be the effect of this on morale within the Labour Party? Now that Gordon Brown has made clear he believes he needs to look outside the party to construct his Cabinet, will Labour MPs feel that their 300-odd nominations have been flung back in their faces?

* Will Peter Hain still be Northern Ireland Secretary after next Wednesday? If so, how will he feel about the fact that his job was offered to Paddy Ashdown?

* Does the fact that Brown made that job offer mean that he is going to retain the territorial Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish departments in government rather than create an umbrella department of nations and regions as had been rumoured?

* Would Paddy Ashdown still have said no if he had been offered the job of Foreign Secretary (as, surely, he should have been if the alternatives are more of Maggie Beckett or a comeback for Jack Straw?)

* What was Ashdown up to leaking the story to the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger, when he must have realised this would cause ten tons of shit to descend on the head of his leader Ming Campbell? Was he just being vain, or has he too decided that Ming is a liability?

* Will the Lib Dems in fact blame Ming, or will they just see this as a rather devious manoeuvre by Brown to get the plaudits for appearing open and inclusive without having to suffer the inconvenience of actually having the Lib Dums in his Cabinet?

* Similarly, will the public really see this as an attempt by Brown to create a "new politics," or simply as a prime example of the way the old politics works, ie completely shafting the leader of an opposition party, who also happens to be an "old friend?"

* If Ming falls and a more media-friendly figure like Chris Huhne or Nick Clegg becomes leader, could the ultimate loser in the whole affair be David Cameron, with the "liberal Conservative" vote returning to the Lib Dems?

I don't profess to know the answer to any of these questions - but it seems there is enough food for thought here not only to keep the blogosphere occupied for days but to keep historians occupied for years.

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6 comments:

Joe Otten said...

Blame Ming for what exactly?

Richard Bailey said...

Everyone is so determined to read wholesale political skullduggery into this affair.

Is it not remotely possible that Brown sought Ashdown's involvement as NI Sec because, in this sort of minefield situation, he is probably the most experienced and safest pair of hands in the country.

I mean, for God's sake, its a better choice than the current mirror-gazing reactionary Hain.

For a brief moment GB actually went up in my estimation.

However, in party political terms, Gordon shot himself in the foot. Dividing and/or weakening the Lib Dems one way or the other, only hands votes, and potentially defectors, to the Tories. Any idiot could work that out.

Thus, GB plummetted down again.

Tom said...

I suppose a lot depends on who leaked it. Was it Brown being too clever by half or a Lib Dem concerned that Ashdown was getting too close to him?

Richard Bailey said...

Actually, I have just read something on the Spectator blog that rather forces me to tone down my comments above, and just blame them on impulsiveness.

The truth is of course that Northern Ireland is hardly an attractive post for a man who spends most of his time at the sharp end. Defence or FO or some new International terrorism post would have been properly appropriate. NI was just an insult.

GB was just being mischevious.

You are right of course, Paul. If Ming loses his job over this sort of ineptitude then that does pose the Tories a problem. GB will want a strong Lib Dem party going into the next election.

Please strike ealier post from the memory!

Joe Otten said...

LOL. Talking of mischief and suggesting that Ming should be sacked in the same post. That takes some brass neck.

Richard Bailey said...

Keep laughing Joe. That's the way we like you. We're all laughing too.