Gordon “Bottler” Brown, Scottish Prime Minister Unelected
The Crewe and Nantwich by-election gave a section of the British electorate the opportunity give a verdict on “Bottler” Brown, an opportunity previously denied them. When “Bottler’s” long guerilla war with Tony Blair resulted in Blair’s resignation and “Bottler’s” coronation, “Bottler” was the Scottish Prime Minister non-elect. Then came the terrible Local Government elections this year, where the Blair Brown Regime was thrashed by a resurgent Conservative Party. At that point, “Bottler” became the Scottish Prime Minster UNELECT. British electors across England and Wales has expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the Blair Brown Regime but local elections can be notoriously unrepresentative of what happens in National Elections. Crewe and Nantwich was a clear expression of national discontent.
Crewe and Nantwich was a by-election that the Labour Party should have won, even if the majority became paper thin. It was necessary because of the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody, a hugely respected and liked MP. Mrs Dunwoody was part of the Labour aristocracy but, unlike many of that group of Labour politicians, she did not see the role of an MP as personal wealth acquisition, but as service to the people who elected her. She built a personal support from the electors of Crew and Nantwich that was largely insulated from the national fortunes of her Party. She became a Minister but her political career stalled, largely because she demonstrated that she was an MP first, for her constituents, and a Party member second. During the inglorious mis-rule of the Blair Brown Regime she developed a new career as Chairman of a Commons Select Committee who was not afraid to stand up to the Regime. This won her more respect in addition to her position as the second longest sitting MP. In an era when the venial antics of many MPs have resulted in them being regarded generically as disreputable and of the lowest regard, Mrs Dunwoody was respected widely far beyond her political Party and by fellow MPs of all Parties. She was also feared by many politicised Civil Servants who were forced to answer questions they would rather ignore.
Given the reputation in Crew and Nantwich, as a respected and effective Constituency MP, and nationally, as an honest and honourable politician, the death of Mrs Dunwoody could be expected to earn a sympathy vote for who ever was appointed to stand for her vacant seat from her own Party. The Constituency also has a long tradition of loyalty to Labour. Then it could be expected that candidates from other Parties would be hampered by the fact that they were fighting an election where the previous incumbent had just died. Certainty, the Conservatives hoped to reduce the majority achieved by Mrs Dunwoody when she fought the seat at the previous General Election, but they did not initially expect to win. That realism was coloured by the fact that the Conservatives have never been good performers at by-elections and had not won a by-election against Labour in more than thirty years.
So what went wrong for “Bottler”?
His spin doctors will be hard at work today trying to show how the result was meaningless, but what does it mean?
By any impartial estimate, any by-election in 2008 should see a greatly reduced Labour share of the vote because of the gross incompetence over more than ten years of the Blair Brown Regime and the particular incompetence of the Chancellor for most of that period, “Bottler” Brown. The global economic cycle has little to do with the performance of national politicians and governments in general terms and therefore no politician can really justifiably claim all credit for good times, or be fully to blame for bad times. However, carefully analysis of “Bottler’s” period as Chancellor shows that, in contrast to the propaganda from Regime spin doctors, “Bottler” was an incompetent Chancellor who had difficulty in reaching decisions and demonstrated a strong desire to claim credit for others’ achievements, disappearing when it was time to own up to his own serious errors.
As Chancellor, “Bottler” inherited from the outgoing Conservative Chancellor, Ken Clarke, a golden legacy with an economy in better shape than at any time since before the 1914-1918 Great War. This was not just a matter of a firm and strong upward trend economically, but it included strong reserves, necessary to protect in difficult times. The conditions were so good that “Bottler” still tries to claim credit for the four years before the Blair Brown Regime achieved power.
That legacy has been squandered. “Bottler” sold off the gold reserves at the bottom of the market and went on not only to raise tax in every conceivable way, but to spend the money badly and then borrow heavily. Spend and tax and borrow is always a dangerous practice, but to borrow during a period of global economic good times is irresponsible in the extreme. He may have been able to claim continuing economic growth but that claim hides the fact that the rate of rise slowed after he became Chancellor and Britain has achieved lower growth under his Chancellorship than other developed economies. Trend indicators suggest that had the Conservative Chancellor continued in office, Britian would have achieved higher growth consistently than any other developed economies and enjoyed a further strengthening of reserves with which to meet the recession that now faces Britain.
“Bottler” was not only an incompetent Chancellor but also demonstrated a lack of backbone and a lack of decision. He claimed all credit for the economic good times but claimed not to have had any involvement in the Blair Brown Regime avoiding blame for all the unpopular and illegal actions the Regime took. Whenever any unpopular decision had to be taken or at any point where the Regime should have been called to account, he was nowhere to be seen.
Then came his coronation. He had been working for ten years to force Blair out of office to satisfy his own ego and ambition. That he failed to give the electorate an opportunity to confirm his appointment as Prime Minister might not have been fatal, had he demonstrated a capacity to do the job effectively. As it turned out he fumbled every important decision and developed a reputation for gross error and indecision. He created an expectation that his period as Prime Minister would be marked by a new disaster every week. It could also be seen that many disasters were directly influenced by errors he had been responsible for as Chancellor.
Given the record of the Blair Brown Regime, and the past performance of “Bottler” Brown, a Labour candidate standing at by-election could expect to see a reduction in the previous majority, even in a traditional Labour heartland. That would have ben poor news for “Bottler” so he and his henchmen hit on a cunning plan which they hoped would enable a win with the previous majority intact.
The first part of the plan was to hold the election at the earliest time, before more bad economic news became public knowledge. The second part of the plan was to parachute failed Welsh MP Tamsin Dunwoody in to stand for her late mother’s seat.
Traditionally, by-elections following the death of an MP are given a decent interval of typically six months. This shows respect for the dead MP and his or her family. By starting the fight for the seat before Mrs Dunwoody’s funeral, “Bottler” demonstrated a serious lack of respect.
Then there was the choice of candidate. Tamsin Dunwoody has not demonstrated any of the qualities that made her mother such a respected MP. She also has a background of privilege that was not likely to resonate with the core Labour electorate. Her sole attribute appears to have been sharing the family name, and even that was something of a shame because she appears to have previously avoided using that name in her styling.
Given the weakness of the candidate and the very low reputation of the Blair Brown Regime, the Conservatives started to hope for an historic victory. As the campaign developed and the Regime continued to make more mistakes, the Conservatives began to hope for a clear win with perhaps a majority of 1,000 rather than scraping a narrow win after several recounts.
One serious mistake the Regime made was to launch a class war against the Conservative candidate rather than to attempt to present positive policies. This was a curious approach because of the candidates, the only one to appear in Burke’s Peerages was Tamsin Dunwoody. The Conservative candidate being the son of the founder of the Timpson retail chain and part of a family with long and strong local links to Crewe and Nantwich with a reputation for hard work and service to the community. Candidate Edward Timpson was a family lawyer, exposed to the range of family problems through his work. Against this Tamsin Dunwoody was a hasty import from Wales who appeared more interested in her political career than in the constituents. As the attacks became nastier and personal, the Dunwoody campaign focused on claims that the Conservative candidate lived in a mansion and was ‘out-of-touch’ with ordinary people, painting Tamsin Dunwoody as a poverty stricken single mother. They appear to have assumed that anyone looking into the background of their candidate would look for ‘Tamsin Dunwoody’ and not in the name she normally uses. Unfortunately for them, journalists soon discovered that the candidate living in a mansion was Tamsin Dunwoody and that her home in far off Wales was worth more than twice as much as the modest local farm house home of the Conservative candidate. The class war attacks may have upset some electors, but the most damaging aspect was that they demonstrated a lack of honesty about the Dunwoody campaign and an inability to engage on local matters.
The deeping economic problems, the falling reputation of “Bottler” Brown, and the dishonest campaign of a light-weight candidate hoping to ride in on her late mother’s reputation alone, combined yesterday to give the Conservatives an historic win and by an enormous swing of almost 18%. It was a result beyond Conservative dreams, but a well-deserved success for a candidate who conducted an honest campaign with dignity, rising above the class war attacks of a poor opponent.
What the result means is harder to assess. One by-election doesn’t make or break a government. “Bottler” Brown shows every indication that he intends continuing in office, if not in power, until the last possible date which is almost two years away. During that time he hopes to find a propaganda story to refresh his fortunes but there is every indication that he will continue to make serous mistakes and cause immense hardship for the electorate, particularly for the poorest of the population.
There will be more by-elections and if the results mirror the Crew and Nantwich result that will only damage “Bottler” further, but he is insulated by the undemocratic nature of the Labour Party’s rules. Where Conservatives can replace a leader very easily, a Labour leader is very difficult to unseat by members of the Party. In his bunker and surrounded by his henchmen, “Bottler” is unlikely to volunteer to resign and most unlikely to decide on a date for the next General Election. The high probability is that, as in so many other things, an indecisive “Bottler” will have the General Election date chosen for him by the law beause there is a final date option beyond which no British Government can continue.
However, nothing is that clear cut. Rebels have threatened to vote against “Bottler”, only for the rebellion to collapse after a few lies and bribes, but that may not continue as more an more Labour MPs come to see their careers ending under “Bottler’s” leadership. They may see a change of leader as their only hope to continue to dip their hands deeply into the public purse.
There is no question that “Bottler” was already damaged and is now further wounded, trailing blood. The sharks in his own Party are circling and the Trade Unions see a weakened Government as a Government that can be pushed where it may not want to go. The Trade Union barons are likely to attmept to exact a very heavy price for their continued support. Against those prospects, “Bottler” has one bright hope. In a Parliamentary Party of pygmies, he is still a giant. There just is no one who stands out as being even equally incompetent, much less a safer pair of hands for Labour.
“Bottler” may hope that he can find a suitable bribe for electors. He borrowed almost GB£3 billion as a bribe to win the Crewe and Nantwich contest and it failed. It may even have lost votes. Soon the electors will have to pay for that bribe in extra taxes. If that happens before the next election it may destroy any possible benefit of offering future bribes.
It will be an interesting and nervous few months for the British people as “Bottler” lumbers on, in office, but not in power, having been decisively unelected by the voters of Crewe and Nantwich who turned out in large numbers similar to those expected at a general elections