Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Gordon Brown - pathetic performance on Andy Marr's show

I have just finished watching Gordon Brown on Andrew Marr's show. Anyone who followed me on Twitter will have seen how frustrated and annoyed I got as the interview went on.

As Iain Dale points out, he didn't answer any of the questions however Iain seems to think it was an impressive performance and I can see what he means from a technical politician perspective (i.e. Marr could not really lay a glove on him) but the overall impression Brown gave off was woeful in my opinion. At one point he even said about MPs expenses "It doesn't matter how it happened."! How can it not matter and how can someone who thinks that possibly be part of the solution?

What the nation needs at the moment is leadership and Gordon did not do this. He was evasive about MPs expenses. He claimed it was nothing to do with him and insisted that the had been trying to sort the system out for years. Mendacious bullshit in my considered opinion. He has been trying to block the release of this stuff for years and all of the so called "reforms" that he was puffing about today have come to naught. He still doesn't get it either. He seems to think that electoral reform is a fringe issue and that there are much more important issues like votes at 16! Don't get me wrong, I think doing that would be a good thing but is it really more important than re-enfranchising millions of people whose votes currently do not count at all due to accidents of geography under the First Past The Post system.

He also tried to claim that the MPs expenses scandal actually reinforces the need for the First Past the Post electoral system!? His warped logic seemed to be something to do with the ability to kick out individual MPs at an election. This completely misses how hard it is to do this under FPTP and how any voters who wish to vote for the party of the errant candidate and find themselves forced to vote for another party to kick that candidate out are also disenfranchised for that election. Single Transferable Vote would solve all this but Marr did not even put this to him and Marr surely must know that? If he doesn't then someone else needs to be doing the interviewing.

Towards the end of the interview he said that a panel would be convened to look at all these issues and come up with proposals but when pressed it transpired that it would be formed of government ministers. When Helena Kennedy in the post interview sofa bit tried to press him to agree to a Citizen's Convention on these issues he just batted it away and said "wait and see what they come up with" with a big smirk on his face. This. Man. Is. Incapable. Of. Fixing. The. System.

After David Cameron's rather will o' the wisp proposals on reform that seem to promise nothing earlier this week it must surely be becoming clear to people that the only party who are serious about change are the Lib Dems. Indeed Andrew Rawnsley is now on board and writes about electoral reform in today's Observer. Here is a snippet:

A minority of Labour politicians are sincere on this subject, but Labour as a party is completely untrustworthy on electoral reform. It flirts with the idea when it is in opposition or becomes afraid that it is about to lose office. As soon as it has power, Labour forgets its promises.

Only one of the main parties has been a consistent and persistent advocate of a democratised House of Lords, a reformed Commons, fixed-term parliaments and the rest of the menu of truly sweeping constitutional reform. That party is the Liberal Democrats. They have also, incidentally, come out of the expenses scandal much less sleazed than either Labour or the Tories.

And he concludes with:

If you want to maximise the chances of securing serious constitutional reform, then the party to vote for is the Lib Dems.

Amen Mr Rawnsley. You won't get proper change from parties with such a vested interest in the existing system. Full stop.


Max Atkinson said...

You are, of course, dead right about Brown being one of the most hopeless interviewees ever -for more on which you might be interested in some of my rants about it, (e.g.

Fausty said...

Excellent points, Mark.

Brown thinks giving 16-year-olds the vote is a priority because multitudes of students that age tend to be left-leaning. He knows he'll be crucified at the polls and this is his way of mitigating his losses. Evil, cynical ploy.

Marr seemed to find it difficult to stop Brown's ramblings and force him to answer the questions asked. Brown did his usual trick of giving long-winded replies to take up air time and reduce the number of questions he could be asked. Labour MPs do this a lot. Caroline Flint, for instance, interrupts her opponents and interviewers all the time. E.g., on QT.

Mark Thompson said...

Yes, it is very frustrating but part of the politicians playbook.

It is no wonder people feel so disengaged though when this is what passes for political discussion at the highest level.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

"Mendacious bullshit" is a bit harsh given it usually works well on the British public.

The expenses scandal is too clear an event for Gordon to use the standard New labour formula of:-

i. assurance that everything is going very well (better than pre '97, under anyone else, beyond expectations etc.);

ii. acknowledgement that there have been a few problems but these were to be expected if you want change, although not forseeable, and no one is at fault;

iii. revelation that these are now irrelevant since a new system, with standards, investment, real improvements, targets, benefitting real people, is on its way;

iv. assertion that soon everything will be even better than before, although everything really is going very well.

So Gordon is having to enter new territory and cannot cope. Hence he clutches at setting up committees, tough and thorough, decisive and fundamental. Nice eh!:-)