the beginning and the end

It all started out so well for Gordon Brown.  After years of being the eternal bridesmaid, he was finally able to don the dress and have his day when Tony Blair handed over the keys to Number 10.  Ok…maybe that’s imagery you don’t need.  But that’s kind of what happened in 2007.  Now-former British PM Gordon Brown was handed the assignment of continuing with the Blair policies and sustaining the political power Labour had gained with Blair’s election 10 years previous.   Sounds simple enough, right?  So how is it that after only 3 years as British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has been unceremoniously dumped by the electorate?  Hmmm.

Well, first of all, he shouldn’t feel too distraught over it.   The British voting public didn’t seem very keen on any of the three parties — Labour just got the brunt of the abuse because it was the party in power.  Gordon Brown was highly unpopular.   All the polls said so.   But in all the postmortems I’ve read on this election, the writers have yet to point to a singular failure on Brown’s part that directly led to Labour’s defeat.   Yes, there were comments about his off-mike asides calling one woman who asked him questions “bigoted”, but those kind of things aren’t the ones that definitively swing an election one way or another.  In the end, it was voter fatigue with Labour’s 13 years in power combined with the many voters who chose the Liberal Democrats that sealed Brown’s fate, but for the way he handled his own tenure, Gordon Brown has no one to blame but himself.

good stuff other people wrote

What I’m currently reading:

The fallacy that continues to dog Project Cameron – John Rentoul (who wrote this killer Tony Blair bio I totally loved) says that David Cameron’s ideas are just as flawed as Gordon Brown’s. Sad part is that in this battle between the Conservative Party (Cameron) and Labour Party(Brown) one of these two will probably end up being UK Prime Minister.  Side note: Current UK PM Brown was never going to be Tony Blair.  Sometimes a politician is best suited to his previous job, rather than his current one.  This is very true of Brown.   However, I have no love for David Cameron and his “New Labour” -lite schtick and his obsession with the environment.  Of course, that’s generally how the Brits roll anyway — with their entrenched welfare state and their socialized health care with the NHS.  Naturally, these are the kind of politicians they like.  Bully for them.   Moving on…

Jack Kelly on President Obama’s new nuke deals.  Here’s the bottom line as far as I’m concerned – if President Obama really believes that we are facing a more challenging time in dealing with nuclear threats, then he’s got the wrong solution to this.   We can’t be voluntarily reducing our own nuclear arsenal and stopping production on more modern weapons at the same time North Korea and Iran are ramping up their nuke production.   This seems backwards to me.  The United States of America may very well be the only country which would be willing to voluntarily do this — and that’s exactly why we can’t do it.

A cautionary tale from Europe – Greece’s monetary struggles – a result of overspending and a massive entitlement society.

but it’s all working SO well

According to the BBC, the struggling Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering allowing private firms to run NHS hospitals.  You know…because the National Health Service has done such a smashing job with providing quality health care and efficient service to the good citizens of the UK.  But you know that innovator and inspiring leader Gordon Brown — can’t settle for perfection.  Pay attention.  This is what the ultimate goal of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is for YOUR health care.  Sure they come up with slightly less scary proposals than what the UK’s got with the NHS, but that’s where they are headed. Make no mistake about that.

On the subject of Gordon Brown himself and his struggle as PM, I’m not sure what exactly his endgame is to keep his job.  He keeps throwing ideas up against the proverbial wall and watching to see if they stick.  Not much is sticking for him these days.  Of course, let’s be honest — if I was one of the lucky folks to get a phone call from the British Prime Minister — that would turn my head a little bit in favour of the guy.  But Gordon Brown will never have the sizzle of Tony Blair, and there’s nothing he can do about that.  It’s my humble opinion that the guy’s in over his head.  He was fine in his supporting role in the Blair government, but he showed nothing special in that role that suggested he was ready for the top job.  He was the guy who Labour deemed as next in line, and he was never seriously challenged as Blair’s successor.  Maybe that was a mistake.

be very afraid of president mccain

So says the Financial Times.

McCain is even scarier than Bush because he will start more wars!  He will spread more “democracy by force”!  He’s actually serious about dealing with rogue states!  He really is a neocon, and his “realist” advisors — mere window-dressing.  Be very very afraid of this man.  He’s a close friend of Bill Kristol, who, as the left reminds us, has to be the most terrifying advocate of pre-emptive war EVER.  The Financial Times’ writer, Anatol Leiven, worries that McCain won’t talk to our allies enough before pursuing US foreign policy.  He seems to be fearful that a President McCain would get the UK into another war.  Does he seriously believe that PM Gordon Brown (for as long as he remains PM) and possible successor, David Cameron, have the same instincts as Tony Blair as far as a joint venture in more wars?  I don’t know the answer to that.

I do know what would happen if we let Europe attempt to defend itself.  It would be a miserable failure.  The UK has its own national identity crisis right now. The leadership there is willing to surrender piece by piece the UK’s national sovereignty.  There’s a reason why PM Brown and Labour will not allow the people to have a say on the Treaty of Lisbon, which gives more and more control and authority to the European Union.  It’s not much different from the EU Constitution, which was decisively rejected by several EU member states.  Why do I bring that up?  It’s important to recognize the signs of a fading power in the world.  A country unwilling to protect and preserve its own existence would hardly be a country willing to defend its allies, or to be a useful asset in the pursuit of the terrorists.

All I have to say to those like Leiven is: Be careful what you wish for.  After 4 years of President Obama or President Hillary, you might be sorry that you questioned the wisdom of electing John McCain.

trouble for gordon brown

Looks like Gordon Brown will have a little trouble duplicating Tony Blair’s electoral success.  That was one heck of a short honeymoon for current UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and like here in the US, it’s about the economy. Apparently his finance minister does not share his skill in economic matters, but you would think that Gordon Brown could give the guy a few ideas. It’s odd that Brown has struggled so much as Prime Minister.  After all, he made quite a few brilliant moves as Chancellor of the Exchequer.  He isn’t Tony Blair, and that’s what the good citizens of the UK thought that they wanted. Even with all of his years in the Blair orb, it’s not clear that he was the right guy to take Blair’s place in Number 10.  Voters are fickle though, even across the pond, and they could change their minds tomorrow.

Until then…the latest poll has the Tories leading Labour by 13 points.  (h/t – Real Clear Politics)

The numbers– Conservatives – 42, Labour – 29,  LibDems – 21

Tories once lost elections on the economy.  Will this be the reason Labour loses power again?  The leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, sure hopes so.

blair announces his resignation

Tony Blair will step down on June 27th, handing over the keys to Number 10 to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. It’s not a minute too soon for those who are convinced that he talked Britain and the United States into an unnecessary preemptive war. They are looking for someone to blame for what they see as a failed policy in Iraq, and Tony Blair is a convenient target.

History will be kinder to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair than we realize. While we are still engaged in this war in Iraq, it is difficult to view the record of these two men through any other prism. Tony Blair will leave Number 10 with a record of achievement that cannot be matched by any previous Labour Prime Minister, and I hope that Gordon Brown intends to keep the US/UK alliance as strong as Blair made it during his time in office.

Blair’s resignation speech is here, but his farewell address is not what we should remember about him. This is.

From a June 2003 speech before Congress:

That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. We’re not fighting for domination. We’re not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. We’re not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds.

And this is not a war of civilizations, because each civilization has a unique capacity to enrich the stock of human heritage. We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind – black or white, Christian or not, left, right or a million different – to be free, free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others. That’s what we’re fighting for. And it’s a battle worth fighting.

And I know it’s hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to, but always wanted to go. I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, ‘Why me? And why us? And why America?’

And the only answer is, ‘Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.’

And our job, my nation that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond, our job is to be there with you. You are not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us.

The Economist has a good recap of the Blair years here. Will Gordon Brown be this kind of ally to America? Time will tell, but I’m not optimistic about that possibility.

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should tony blair step down?

for some reason i feel compelled to comment on this. 😉

the recent charges against members of blair’s labour government in the cash-for-honours scandal are troubling. it’s hard to imagine how so many people involved with this current scandal could be arrested without cause to do so, which is why it’s surprising that no charges have been brought against those accused of breaking the 1925 Honours Act. when there is an accusation that contributions to a political party directly bought titles or influenced a policy decision, those accusations should be seriously dealt with. no votes should be bought.  the amount given to a political party should not determine who holds positions of power in the party.  in a perfect world, this would be the case, but we don’t live in a perfect world. those with the money have more control over political parties than those who don’t.  that’s just the way it is. 

as for the unfortunate prime minister, it seems to me that the british people have found him guilty until proven innocent.  tony blair has been prime minister in the UK for 10 years. that’s a long time. they want and need an excuse to get rid of him. he has been questioned about this scandal several times now and each time it was as a witness, not as a suspect in the case. he has not been charged with anything, and of course, denies doing anything wrong. i believe him. i’m probably the only one who does. if he is innocent, as i suspect, then he should welcome the investigation.

the bigger question to me is: who will replace tony blair when he chooses to step down? will it be blair-lite david cameron, fan of the nanny state?  will it finally be gordon brown’s turn to live in number 10? will it be some unknown stealing the spotlight from both of these men? the only prediction i feel confident in making is that the next PM probably won’t be a LibDem.


new labour and david cameron–a perfect match?

meet the new boss….same as the old boss? when tony blair steps down as british PM, there will be a pitched battle to determine the next occupant of 10 downing street. the upcoming contest between david cameron (conservatives) and british PM tony blair’s hand-picked successor (chancellor of the exchequer gordon brown) may not be the fierce ideological struggle everyone may have expected. the message of “cameronism” sounds familiar– very similar in fact to blair’s “new labour”.

Cameron has put a stake through Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. New Labour has triumphed beyond its wildest dreams: this is Blair’s brilliant legacy – to be outflanked on the left is an extraordinary achievement he should mark as his glory moment. If anyone doubts that Cameron means it, just chortle with glee as the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips shrieks in pain: “This leaves millions of natural conservatives effectively disenfranchised – and, even worse, demonised as dinosaurs by the party that is supposed to represent them, but is now telling them to go hang while it tears up everything they believe in … The ideas in his advertisement appear to define ‘what is right’ as the distorted doctrines of leftwing propaganda.” Tebbit weighs in too. Imagine how the Cameron clan must be whooping as the Mail is left gasping and spluttering. This is exactly what it wants.

polly toynbee in the guardian

i think she’s right that cameron has “put a stake through margaret thatcher’s legacy”. many observers of british political history may see this as a good thing. the baroness would not have signed on to wealth re-distribution through government largesse, an emphasis on global warming, or the idea that “strict ideologies should be foresworn in favor of a flexible approach to politics”(cal thomas). we can argue the overall effectiveness of thatcher’s policies, but at the end of the day, politics will always be about ideology. those who ignore this and choose style over substance do not give the voters what they need, which is a debate on ideas, not on personality.

david cameron isn’t any different from tony blair, at least in any visible way. so maybe that kind of ideological debate can’t take place between blair and cameron. the real question here is whether gordon brown believes in continuing blair’s policies in a future labour government. if brown intends to stay with what has worked under new labour, then i don’t see how cameron provides much of an alternative.

if he really believed that the blair government was ruining the country, he wouldn’t go out of his way to help the PM get his school reforms passed. he talks about fighting global poverty, bridging the gap between rich and poor, and reducing carbon emissions to deal with global warming. the problem cameron has is that he has more in common with tony blair than margaret thatcher. we shall see if the conservatives will follow cameron to the left, or whether they will be resigned to re-electing new labour.
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