Posts Tagged ‘Damian McBride’

In the wake of McBride, we need an OBR style independent regulator for political conduct

23/09/2013, 01:54:06 PM

by Anthony Painter

This morning’s announcement that Labour is going to seek OBR audit of its fiscal plans in 2015 is a smart one. Tactically, it deflects the sort of ‘black hole’ attack from the Conservatives that we have seen over the weekend. The Tories are terrified by this- hence their rejection of the idea. Has there been a more shoddy piece of work coming out of HM Treasury than its ‘analysis’ published over the weekend? Secondly, it will mean that Labour will have to be meticulous in the preparation of its plans. This may help rebuild trust in Labour’s ability to manage public finances.

And thirdly, crucially, it may help to restore some faith in politics. If that takes external audit then so be it.

There will be much scoffing at this point. In a Today programme interview this morning, Ed Balls was also asked about Damian McBride and his own role in the Gordon Brown political operation. These seems like separate issues. However, trust in fiscal policy, politics, competence, fairness are all connected. The question is how can trust be restored- not just in Labour but politics more widely.

Poor behaviour can have an institutional check. Whether it is over-spending, under-taxing, setting interest rates, regulating industry or the personal destruction of political rivals.

Now, I’m not proposing that we give the OBR responsibility for political conduct. However, the principles of monitoring and audit could apply. Instead of brushing the McBride revelations under the carpet and pretending it’s all in the past when we know that either it isn’t or has the potential to occur again, Labour could act decisively instead. It could establish mechanisms of monitoring and sanction.


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Forget the black arts, McBride exposes Brown’s wasted potential

23/09/2013, 11:56:15 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Reading extracts from the intermittent release of Damian McBride’s scabrous and painfully frank account of life at the heart of the Brown political machine, there is an obvious and dispiriting parallel that comes to mind. James Gordon Brown seems to be the closest thing British politics has to Richard Milhous Nixon.

The comparison has been made before, whether it’s at the literal end of the scale – both were brooding and insular – or in what they did in office. The Nixonian paranoia and skulduggery of Brown’s operation that McBride lays bare is depressing to read; and all the more so because it didn’t have to be like this.

If you measure Gordon Brown’s record between 1997 and 2007, he emerges as one of the greatest social democrats of the post-war era, up there with Bevan and Crosland in leaving an enduring mark on reducing inequality.

Yet when you stretch the review period by just three years to include his premiership, Brown, like Nixon, is reduced to a figure despised, discredited and disgraced – or so his political enemies (including those within Labour’s ranks) constantly tell us.

This is certainly hyperbolic; the Brown government was not that bad; and, sure, he was no angel when he was at the Treasury either, running a perennial campaign to usurp Blair, but the real waste is that this didn’t all end when he realised his life’s ambition by becoming prime minister.


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How will Cameron respond to One Nation Labour?

05/10/2012, 11:38:36 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Damian McBride is right. Jon Cruddas is too. Even Phillip Blond is.

This amounts to a triumvirate of correctness trapping David Cameron. Precisely the position – as demonstrated by seizing the leadership initiative from David Davis with his no notes performance at Conservative Party conference in 2005, his party’s proposed cut to inheritance tax on the eve of the election that never was in 2007 and his snatching of victory from the jaws of defeat by forming a multi-party government in 2010 – from which he is most dangerous.

McBride has picked up a valuable insight from Gordon Brown, who told him in 2004:

“I’ve already had seven years. Once you’ve had seven years, the public start getting sick of you. You’ve got seven years when you’ve got a chance to get people on board, but after that, you’re on the down slope. I’ve tried not to be too exposed, but it’s still seven years. The only chance was getting in next year before the election. Tony knows that. Every year that goes by, the public are going to say: ‘Not that guy Brown, we’re tired of him – give us someone new.’”

McBride goes on:

“Why does any of this matter today? Well, next Wednesday marks seven years since David Cameron’s ‘speech without notes’ at the 2005 Tory conference, so we will soon get a chance to test the theory again. Cameron obviously hasn’t been PM for all of that time, but he was the most over-exposed opposition leader in history, and has undoubtedly been front line in the public consciousness for 7 years.”

Cruddas has reviewed Britain Unchained, a new book by rising Tory stars, and finds it a revealing take on the party that Cameron now leads:

“Scratch off the veneer and all is revealed: a destructive economic liberalism that threatens the foundations of modern conservatism … It is because this faction is in the ascendancy that Cameron is actually failing; he remains captive to an economic reductionism that could well destroy conservatism – in the proper sense of valuing and conserving the nature and assorted institutions of the country.”

It is this embrace of economic liberalism that has so disappointed Blond, one of the architects of the compassionate conservatism that was the intellectual mooring to Cameron’s years as “the most over-exposed opposition leader in history”. Blond moans of Cameron:

“His failure to maintain a coherent new vision has led to spasmodic appeals to vague progressive notions that have further alienated his own base and suggested that the PM is not a master of his own beliefs … Cameron’s thinking is now out of step with public demands and economic reality. People desperately want a new economic and social settlement. But nothing is on offer from the right, so the left has moved into the vacuum.”

The power of Ed Miliband’s audacious one nation pitch resides in capturing the ground that Blond chides Cameron for abandoning.


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The case against Ed Balls, by Tom Bage

16/06/2010, 12:30:34 PM

Kerry McCarthy reaffirmed her support for Ed Balls on the Staggers site last week, echoing the ‘he gets it’ thesis of that combative tweeting phenomenon, Ellie Gellard.

Their arguments for Ed will appeal to many in the party: he understands why we lost and can win back our disillusioned supporters; he will defend Labour’s record and he can lead us back to power. Unfortunately, they founder on the last premise – outside of his supporters, does anybody seriously believe that the British people will install Ed Balls in Number 10?

To his great credit, Balls is a dogged defender of Labour’s record and will revel in making life as unpleasant as possible for Michael Gove. He fought and won a tough campaign against a well funded Tory candidate in Morley and Outwood, where anger about immigration and housing seems to have made a lasting impression on his thinking.


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