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Thread: Gordon Brown

  1. #1

    Default Gordon Brown

    Or rather, 'Gordon Brown, the expenses scandal, the election results and the shameful state of British politics', but that seemed rather less pithy.

    Basically: what do we think?

    It looks like he's going to limp on and stay in office now, even if his authority among his party is significantly damaged and his place in the public's affection comes somewhere between Myra Hindley and Genghis Khan, but I don't think that's really the issue anymore. Don't get me wrong, I like him as little as the next man and have done for a long time, but I do find the dramatic upsurge in anti-Brown sentiment a little confusing when current government ideology and policy hasn't really changed since '97 when Labour were wildly popular and won in a huge landslide - it seem like a case of fatigue and a large amount of bad things happening to contaminate him in our minds. I also find it telling that his many critics from inside his own ranks don't seem to have substantial policy differences to offer, they are just panicking at being so unpopular when really they are as culpable as he. Of course, there is also his utter lack of charm and the fact that he can't smile without terrifyingly any small children within a hundred feet, which has made it impossible to connect with the British people in the way his predecessor did. It might sound flippant but these things are terribly important in politics - Blair was no better than Brown in anything but charm, presentation and spin and Obama is currently proving just how important looking and sounding good is to popularity.

    Anyway, Labour will lose and lose badly at the next election and so be out of office within a year, so the real question is what's coming next and how everything that has been going on affects how we run things. We've been hugely overdue some serious constitutional, electoral and parliamentary reform in this country and we might actually have an opportunity to pursue that now as, for whatever, reason people seem incapable of acting without a scandal to act as a stimulus. For that reason, and even though I resent that we have a leader with no mandate, I wouldn't actually call for a general election now. I think we need to thoroughly air all the dirty laundry and have an election fought on how these things can be fixed rather than decided on a general unhappiness directed at the government for what is a systemic problem, not one connected to one man or one party.

    The fascist BNP winning two seats in the European elections is an occurrence that should be taken seriously and can be blamed fairly squarely on the complacency, exploitation and incompetence of certain sectors of the established parties which causes such serious disenfranchisement among so many. But, while all this is worrying, it is also an opportunity for a real shift in how we do things - a chance to improve democracy, accountability and representation and recalibrate the roles of our elected officials from managers and rulers as they are now, to public servants as they should be. People are interested in such things now more than ever it's just that there's no place for that interest to be formally channeled, and that is why it is so frustrating that the people who are ultimately going to benefit from this mess is the Conservatives; another established party who will say all th right things to get them into office but lack any substance or incentive to change anything because people are already supporting them for the glorious qualification of being Not Labour. This is a problem of Westminster's making and I don't quite understand why we should trust Westminster to fix it. Of course, I don't presume to have all the answers as to how it should be fixed, but I certainly don't think that David Cameron has all the answers either.

    Still, the above are just a few of my rambling thoughts on the issue, which I'll cut short for the sake of brevity and my blood pressure. I'd be very interested to hear what you think, if anything, and whether your view is domestic or foreign.

  2. #2
    soren456

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    You have an impressive way with the ad-hominem attack. If I wanted to be taken seriously, I'd avoid it.

    To conflate Obama with Gordon Brown is laughable.

    Other than that, fine . . . .

    (This is a foreign view.)

  3. #3

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by soren456 View Post
    To conflate Obama with Gordon Brown is laughable.
    Hm. Not sure what you mean there, mate. I wasn't conflating Brown and Obama, I was contrasting them. The meaning of what I said, which wasn't really meant as praise or criticism of either of them in policy terms, was that style, appearance and charm are extremely important in modern politics and that Brown fails on those counts while Obama excels. I don't personally care at all that Brown is awkward, clumsy and not especially articulate but I was making the point that him being those things have seriously hampered him as a professional politician.

    As for the ad-hominem charge, it was something of a rant rather than a dispassionate and detailed analysis, I'll grant you, but I honestly think you may have misconstrued a lot of what I was saying because I actually wasn't attacking anyone's character or personality although I was acknowledging how important those things are in this media age. My criticisms and comments are about the wider Westminster system and the mess its gotten itself into recently and my basic point is that it needs reform rather than reshuffling.

  4. #4

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    I admit I'm not that familiar with the British system, but considering how badly Labor lost in both the EP and local elections, isn't a general election soon pretty much a done deal?

    EDIT: another question, on that note. It's pretty clear that the Tories will be in power with the next general election, no? If so, how likely is the far right to gain any substantial representation?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkmaster View Post
    I admit I'm not that familiar with the British system, but considering how badly Labor lost in both the EP and local elections, isn't a general election soon pretty much a done deal?
    Not really. There's a lot of clamour and noise from all over the place calling for one, but the way it works is that we elect a parliament for one five year term and the Prime Minister has the power to call an election at any point within that up until the five years is out when one has to be called. In all likelihood, Brown isn't going to call one until the last minute because he has very little chance of winning. He does, however, only have a year left to run on this parliament.

    Gives far too much power to the PM and fixed terms is definitely one of the reforms I would like to see.

    Edit to reply to the edit: Yes, the Tories will almost certainly win but any far right presence is extremely unlikely. The kind of Proportional Representation in the European elections gives the likes of UKIP and the BNP a chance as we've just seen, but the First Past the Post system we use for general elections means that I wouldn't expect to see, for example, a BNP MP. The extremist parties did well recently because a) the voting system gives minority parties a chance, and b) public sentiment towards the established parties - particularly Labour - was so unfavorable as we are in the midst of a major scandal, meaning that while extremist voters were actually stable rather than significantly increased, turnout amongst traditional Labour voters was very poor thus inflating the share of the vote for the extremists. Factor a) won't be there for the general election and factor b) will be reduced by a higher turnout and the fallout from the anti-politics sentiment reducing over time.

  6. #6

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    Brown's a Yank in a very poor disguise.

    I'm not advocating a return to Thatcher (those living under her suffered immensely), but it would be nice to see a PM who didn't seem to look across the pond and build policy based upon "me, too!"

  7. #7

    Default

    Gordon Brown is not the right man to be PM. I'm also disgusted that the BNP won two seats

  8. #8
    soren456

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaiden View Post
    Hm. Not sure what you mean there, mate. I wasn't conflating Brown and Obama, I was contrasting them. The meaning of what I said, which wasn't really meant as praise or criticism of either of them in policy terms, was that style, appearance and charm are extremely important in modern politics and that Brown fails on those counts while Obama excels. . . .
    Yes, I do see on re-reading. Point taken.

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