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Gordon Brown as Prime Minister

John Simkin

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No doubt Gordon Brown told left-wing MPs not to support John McDonnell and in return he will change his policies on subjects like Iraq. However, I will believe it when I see it. Some interesting letters in the Guardian on this topic today.


Polly Toynbee (Finally ministers are off the leash and free to say the rich are too bloody rich, May 18) keeps instructing us to expect things from Gordon Brown: "Expect a big boost for families", "Expect the arguments to hot up", "Expect this personal class positioning to turn into hard questions about inequality". Ever optimistic, she has no real evidence for any of this and ignores all evidence to the contrary.

What about Brown's delight at the lack of opposition from a left candidate, his silence on MPs' self-serving curtailment of the Freedom of Information Act, his legacy as the PFI chancellor who has shovelled public-sector money into the pockets of big business, his uncomplaining funding of the Iraq war, his acquiescence in attacks on civil liberties? If ever we knew we were in for more of the same policies accompanied by a lot of misleading window-dressing, it is now.

Kate Liddell


The fact that Labour MPs have collectively decided to deny both Labour party members and the millions of affiliated trade union members any say at all in who the new party leader should be speaks volumes about the nature of Labour party democracy after 12 years of Blair's leadership. The fact that only 30 or so Labour MPs were willing to support a challenge to the continuation of Blairite Thatcherism says all we need to know about the politics of these so-called democratic socialists.

The only people likely to join a political party which treats its members with such contempt are exactly the kind of apolitical careerists and managerial apparatchiks who already seem to dominate the Labour backbenches. Many people already believe that most politicians are out for themselves and will care little about how the Labour party appoints its leader. The process we have just seen in the Labour party will confirm these people in their cynicism.

Steve Radford


Does Gordon Brown realise how much of a joke most voters will find an election with only one candidate? How can we take claims to be committed to "conversation", "debate", "listening" and "choice" seriously if New Labour won't even countenance debate within their own party? I heard one person in Brown's camp saying a leadership election would mean having to take the left's views seriously. If you don't take your opponents' and critics' views seriously and permit real public debate with them you simply don't really believe in democracy. Brown also claimed John McDonnell and Michael Meacher failed to get enough nominations because MPs decided not to give the "hard left" a platform. Opposition to keeping our troops in Iraq is not restricted to the hard left. Nor is opposition to PFI; to war on Iran; to nuclear power; to subsidising private rail firms or British Aero-space. Unless he takes criticism of these policies seriously enough to change them he'll find that out at the next general election - in which there will be other candidates.

Duncan McFarlane

Braidwood, Carluke

An acid test for Gordon Brown will be what he does about Labour's annual conference. Once this was the most democratic grassroots empowerment of ordinary men and women in Europe. Tony Blair and his cronies smashed this curb on political hubris so that their own ends could be pursued. If Brown has the courage to strengthen this accountability for those who work hardest for his cause he will be championed by true democrats everywhere.

Ian Flintoff


Labour democracy resembles that of a party driven underground by a foreign occupation. Votes at our annual conference cannot influence policy, let alone determine it. The policy forum is not allowed to take votes and therefore takes no decisions. We are not even allowed to elect our leader. Gordon Brown will learn that unscrupulous factional party management of this kind carries real costs: tumbling membership and defection by millions of Labour supporters.

David Holland


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  • 2 weeks later...
No doubt Gordon Brown told left-wing MPs not to support John McDonnell and in return he will change his policies on subjects like Iraq. However, I will believe it when I see it. Some interesting letters in the Guardian on this topic today.

Whatever promises McDonnell may have secured from Gordon Brown, halting the War On British Civil Liberties was clearly not among them.

See Gordon Brown's speech on terrorism to the Royal United Services Institute in London.

It seems to still rankle with the delightful chaps who orchestrate the British State that Nu Labour's earlier push for a 90 day suspension of habeas corpus was defeated in Parliament by a majority of MPs, showing an outburst of quite uncharacteristic spine on a rare occasion when when 'The Opposition' momentarily lived up to its name.

Brown is clearly keen to prove he's one of the chums, willing to cash in some of his 'popularity credits' to give a leg up to the War on Terror falsifiers.

The BBC reports, "Mr Brown said the government should be prepared to consider holding terror suspects for more than 28 days without charge if evidence shows it is necessary".

That should help take the pressure off!

90 days to stitch up a case is rather more reasonable in these oh-so-busy times, eh what?

Oh... and if you're a Brit who supports independent Arab or Moslem causes, beware!

"Tomorrow the Privy Council will lay before Parliament a new terrorism order which will give the Treasury the power to stop funds reaching anyone in the UK suspected of planning terror or engagement with terror ....

"For the first time we will use closed source evidence where it is necessary to take preventative action to freeze assets. This means acting on the basis of classified intelligence."

An aside.

Last year, I engaged in a rather heated debate with my local down under MP wannabee. Since 2001, Australia has adopted legal measures against "the terrorist threat" largely based on British precedent.

Our conversation was at the time of the Israeli assault on the Lebanon.

I pointed out the extreme bias of Australia's so called 'anti-Terorism' laws, in the context of that conflict.

Take the case, I said, of two boys and two families. One family Austrlaian-Israeli, the other Australian-Lebanese. The boys go the the middle east. One joins the IDF. The other joins Hezbollah. Both are killed. The grieving families send money for their sons' funerals.

In the latter case, the mourners risk several years in jail for supporting 'terrorism'. In the former case, Rupoert Murdoch and the ABC would ensure it was recognized as a national tragedy (for Australia).

The aspiring politician protested, but agreed to make inquiries. She did. Apparently, I was right... there was at least a possibility that a mother giving funds to Hezbollah for her son's funeral would be liable under Australia's anti-Terrorism laws. No such concerns for the mother of a boy killed while invading another sovereign nation or bombing it with high-tech weaponry.

Our obscene anti-Terorism laws are not an accidental and unfortunate intrusion on civil liberties for a greater purpose, as Brown portrays them. They are a deliberate assault on our civil liberties for partisan purposes.

Blair's greatest achievement in office, in retrospect, was to smooth the passage of British Spookdom from a bogus, self-generated War on Irish Terrorism to a bogus but much more lucrative joint War on Islamic Terrorism, in cahoots with the Israelis, USA and other big centers of kindred spookdom. It's part of the rush to globalization, akin to the amalgamation of national stock exchanges. The merging of "intelligence services" into unaccountable multinational conglomerates is now well underway. Why bother with IRA splinter-groups when they can share a piece of the Global War on Terror for many years to come?

This is an important speech by Brown, IMO, because it publicly signals, before he even takes office as PM, that he will play along with the game.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Take for example Lord Levy’s friend, Ronald Cohen. Although he was born in Egypt he has spent virtually all his life in England. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Cohen is estimated to be worth £260m. This has enabled him to save paying many millions in tax. In return he has given the Labour Party more than £1.5m and was knighted in 2001. He is also Gordon Brown’s personal adviser on the Middle East. This will guarantee that Brown does not change New Labour’s policy on Iraq, Israel and Palestine.

So, Levy steps down as Middle East 'envoy' - a fellow Ziocon Ronald Cohen is poised to take his place?

If that really happens, we'd have the spectacle of one rich Zionist bigot replacing another. Britain's foreign policy in this most contentious part of the world will remain firmly under the thumb of partisan Jewish millionaires.

Is there any national pride left in Britain?

Time was when the term 'ZOG' (Zionist Occupied Government) was used only by a fringe of malcontents.

Perhaps it's time ZOG goes mainstream? The concerns that underlay such an phrase appear to be grounded in fact.

I wonder why the British, French and American ZOG Governments don't cede middle eastern foreign policy in entirety to Tel Aviv? Why bother to maintain any facade of independence at all?

A periodical broadsheet of instructions, direct from the Israeli regime, would serve the same purpose as Britain's pretense of an independent middle east policy establishment for a fraction of the cost, freeing up funds that could be better spent. More for the bogus 'War on (Arab and Muslim) Terror', of course... and perhaps the Britain Exchequer could stop being so damn stingy and join the (post-JFK) USA in paying Israel direct economic tribute (aid) on an annual basis?

Edited by Sid Walker
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Notwithstanding my earlier comments on this thread - and cognizant also of the high level of cynicism on this Forum - I just watched extracts of Gordon Brown's first speech as incoming PM (apparently the hand-over is not until Wednesday). What I saw was impressive. I had the feeling of listening to someone on the left of politics, articulately arguing the case for a progressive social agenda with conviction and style.

Doubtless I'll have disappointments from Brown's administration. A change of occupancy at No 10 does not a revolution make. But should Brown actually turn out to be a lying war monger and sneaky ally of the cryptocracy on a par with Blair, I would be surprised and very alarmed.

A more credible war salesman than Bliar would be dangerous indeed.

Edited by Sid Walker
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