The Lib Dems in government part 5: the secret tapes edition

January 15, 2011

Just before the general election I went to a hustings in my hometown, with my parents and some family friends. This was just after the first leaders debate and the outbreak of Cleggmania. Our constituency had been represented, for the previous thirteen years, by a very popular Liberal Democrat, who had turned the seat from a conservative stronghold, in the 90s, to the nearest thing the Liberal Democrats have to a safe seat. Labour had been squeezed down to 10% of the vote and all but given up on the seat, putting forward a candidate who was younger than me. In the event, the evening turned out to be a bit of a one horse race.

The Conservative candidate’s opening gambit was that whilst the incumbent was all well and good these Liberal Democrats would never have any real influence and only he could guarantee a “seat at the top table” from which to represent his constituent’s interests. This was delivered in such a pompous style that it was hard to hold back laughter. As one of the family friends said later, far from being at the top table he was “lobby fodder – at best”. He compounded his error by saying, in reply to a question about the representation of women, that we needed more women in government because “women know how to balance a household budget”.

 Neither the Labour nor UKIP candidates managed to hold their own under even the most gentle of questioning. The sitting MP just stood up and confidently laid out his record in office and after that any sense of competition was just blown out of the water.

The questions mainly stuck to local issues and by the end of the evening the audience had sunk into a stupour. On the final question I thought of something to ask. I put up my hand but someone else was chosen. His question was something parochial about primary schools that had been covered earlier in the evening. You could feel the sense of anticlimax in the room. Then the host, our local vicar, decided to put an end to that question and take a new one. This time I was picked. Phrasing my question carefully to maximize the chance of a straight answer, I asked our MP, in the event of a hung Parliament upon what basis would the Liberal Democrats choose a coalition partner and prioritising which policies.

There was a rumble of interest as the audience roused from their stupour. He replied (or didn’t reply) that it wasn’t vote Clegg get Cameron, or vote Clegg get Brown but that a vote for him would get Nick Clegg and Vince Cable (this was back when this still had some cache) and that if we wanted to know their priorities we should look at their manifesto. A couple of weeks later he was returned to office, the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Conservative and he himself was made a junior government minister.

Looking at events since, their manifesto doesn’t seem to have been such an accurate indicator of their action in coalition. It has become clear that, even as early as the coalition negotiations, Nick Clegg was arguing against his party’s own stated position on deficit reduction. Of course since then we have had the u-turn on tuition fees from most of the Liberal Democrat front bench and a good number of their backbenchers, as well. This was something that went beyond a manifesto commitment, each Liberal Democrat MP, individually, signed unequivocal pledges, promising not to raise fees, garnering lots of votes in the process. Now we learn that they may even back down on control orders, conceding their one remaining position of high ground on civil liberties. At least one Lib Dem MP has dishonestly tried to argue that there apparent argument that their apparent reversal is in fact not a reversal at all.

The more common argument has been that they didn’t win the election and so are in no position to implement their manifesto, and if the public wants to see Lib Dem policies, they should elect a Lib Dem majority. This is not only irrelevant in the case of tuition fees – the controversy was not over their manifesto, which people cannot expect to be implemented in full in coalition (although it would be nice to see some of it), it was about individual pledges by individual Lib Dem candidates to vote a certain way- but disingenuous. Nobody seriously expected the Lib Dems to win an overall majority and, as the exchange in my local Baptist church hall shows, people were most highly concerned with what would happen in the event of a coalition. Most importantly, whilst the Lib Dems did not win the election, neither did the Conservatives. They are now in the position of pushing through the most radically conservative fiscal policy seen in generations, to devastating effect to many if not most people in the country, with a 36.1% vote share on a 65.1% turnout. That’s just 23.5% of the available vote. They have only been able to do this because a party has completely reversed the positions on which it campaigned. There is a fundamental subversion of the democratic principle here.

This all brings us to the revelations in the Daily Telegraph. Several Liberal Democrats, including Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and my very own Steve Webb MP, were recorded by Telegraph journalists posing as constituents, making indiscrete comments about their coalition partners. Notwithstanding Vince Cable’s apparent inability to maintain blood flow to his brain in the presence of certain female journalists, these revelations actually make me respect them more. The worst part of the Lib Dems’ incorporation into the government has been the constant cheerleading for the policies that have been fed to them; the pretence that nothing is wrong. The suggestion that there may be policies that “haven’t seen the light of day” because of Lib Dem intervention and that they may be picking their battles is encouraging. The only hope for coalition between such diametrically opposed parties is one of open negotiation, where the differences are clearly delineated, possibly with independent portfolios. This would be challenging for British politics, with its dominant tradition that the government must maintain a united front against the public, with whips and collective responsibility. It would certainly mean running the gamut of press obsessed with gossip and psychodrama. Instead the Liberal Democrats seem to be being gradually cannibalised by their senior partners in government.

In reality, this was always going to be an extremely damaging term of office for whichever government was formed in May, especially with the numbers as they were. Labour couldn’t have survived another term of office without suffering electoral wipeout. No party has ever governed for more than four terms, and Labour was facing a tough economy and falling popularity. The Lib Dems faced a choice of patching together a wafer thin overall majority with an unpopular party with an unpopular leader and a rag tag of minor parties with their own agendas, or tying itself to a party whose policies its supporters abhorred. The only question was who was going to take the poisoned chalice. With their poll ratings going through the floor, the Lib Dems are now in a dire position. Do they activate Vince Cable’s nuclear weapon soon and face an angry electorate, or soldier on, possibly sustaining even more damage? They may, even now, be past the point of no return.

First thoughts on Cablegate (type 2)

December 22, 2010

What on earth did Vince Cable think he was doing? Is that how he talks to all his constituents? As far as he knew, they were two mothers asking questions about child benefit. Perhaps all Cable’s constituency meetings take a decidedly queer turn:

Random constituent of Vince Cable: I’ve come to see you about my neighbour’s garden hedge. It’s grown to a massive height, it’s invading my garden, and it’s blocking light to my prize rhododendrons…

Vince Cable: That’s very interesting. It’s a battle between you and your neighbour isn’t it? But is this the isue you really want to fight over? I’m having to pick my fights in this coalition. Did I mention I’m going to war with Rupert Murdoch….

And so it goes.

The circumstances of this conversation being leaked are interesting, to say the least. Michael White reckons it might have broken parliamentary privilege. I’m not sure on this, and even if it is a breach, it was still massively indiscreet of Cable to be mentioning a “war on Murdoch” to his constituents.

There are lots of sorry things about this issue that need to be addressed; not least Labour’s response, who rather than try and show some opposition to Murdoch have gone in for a spot of Lib Dem bashing instead.

The worst thing now is that Jeremy Hunt is now in charge of the Media and Communcations Portfolio. He seems to think that the BBC has a left wing bias.

The reason Hunt gives for the left-wing slant of the BBC is because more people at the Corporation voted Labour and Lib Dem then did Tory at the last election. Then again, so did most of the country, so not quite sure how he’s going to make political capital out of that.

Thank you Vince and your great big gob. Was it too much to ask that you KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and then veto the BSkyB takeover? Obviously it was. You daft ‘apeth.

Ed Miliband has got it wrong. He should be calling this coalition a Murdoch-led government.

Nick Clegg makes a tin of spam look like a calculating political genius

December 7, 2010

In one sense, Nick Clegg has kept his word.

I know, I can’t believe I’ve just written that sentence either.

In an article for The Times specifiying the priorities the Lib Dems would have when brokering a deal to enter a coalition. These are the same priorities listed on the front of the Lib Dem manifesto:

You could well argue that the Lib Dems have hardly fought tooth and nail for these priorities, to put it mildly, but that’s an argument for another time.

The point to note for the moment is: these priorities do not include anything on university fees. Indeed, it seems that the Lib Dems had decided before the election that they would not spent too much time defending their pledge to vote against any rise of tuition fees:

A month before Clegg pledged in April to scrap the “dead weight of debt”, a secret team of key Lib Dems made clear that, in the event of a hung parliament, the party would not waste political capital defending its manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years. In a document marked “confidential” and dated 16 March, the head of the secret pre-election coalition negotiating team, Danny Alexander, wrote: “On tuition fees we should seek agreement on part-time students and leave the rest. We will have clear yellow water with the other [parties] on raising the tuition fee cap, so let us not cause ourselves more headaches.”

Chris Davies, a Lib Dem MEP for the North West, articulated quite clearly what a lot of you must now be thinking about “that pledge”:

Our opposition to tuition fees was born of principle and sustained by electoral popularity. It was an indulgence. The truth is surely that it survived as party policy because in our heart of hearts we didn’t think we would be in a position to put it into practice.

It’s no wonder, then, that people talk of “betrayal”. This behaviour from the Lib Dems is certainly very cynical, if not downright deceitful.

Vince Cable has defended the current position on the Lib Dems on tuition fees (which is currently to vote for the proposal to triple university fees, though who knows what the policy will be tomorrow, or the day after that) on the fact that the Lib Dems have a coalition agreement to follow:

We didn’t break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn’t win the election. We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it’s the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I’m trying to honour.

Except this is what the coalition agreement says on university fees:

If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote. (p32)

I’m not sure abstaining on the issue would be much of an improvement either. As Nye Bevan once said, “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.” But it would at least honour the coalition agreement. The worse aspect of this whole sorry business is the fact that the Lib Dems gave themselves an opportunity to abstain on any fees arrangement, but are now voting for it, meaning they’re neither honouring their coalition agreement nor their pre-election pledge.

This FT blog catalogues the catalogue of strategic errors the Lib Dems have made on the fees issue, concluding with the fact that:

(R)ather than keep the reforms at arms length, the Lib Dems took on full responsibility for redesigning the system. By getting too involved in creating the policy they effectively gave up their right to stand aside.

Peter Oborne has argued that Nick Clegg has shown that he is a man of judgement and courage. Actually he seems more like an opportunist and a lightweight, who is playing a bad hand very poorly indeed.

The Lib Dems in government (part 2) – Why aren’t they making more noise against cuts?

August 7, 2010

The latest post in a series on the Lib Dems in government. It’s been quite a difficult one to write, because uncovering the motives of senior Lib Dems is a difficult business. Still, here’s my take on why, perhaps, the Liberal Democrats have been more accepting of the spending cuts being introduced.

It’s nice to know that Andrew Rawnsley is writing the same thoughtful, well-connected pieces under a Con-Lib coalition that he was under a Labour government. I don’t mean that ironically; he is one of my favourite columnists. This the main argument of last week’s effort:

The explanation offered by the Cameron inner circle is that they have learned the lesson of Tony Blair’s first term. They concluded – as indeed did Mr Blair – that he had wasted much of his early period in office by failing to conceive and execute radical reform quickly enough, especially in public services. Wittingly or not, David Cameron is going to the other extreme. This government is trying to run before it has fully learned how to walk.

There are, it seems, two other major mistakes New Labour kept making in government that the Lib Dems would do well not to repeat. At the moment, it seems they are carrying on those errors. Both help explain, in my view, why not enough is being said from Liberal Democrats, in government or outside, about the impending spending cuts.

The Liberal Democrats can try to brag about their influence all they like, but however laudable plans to increase the income tax threshold are – and it’s probable such a scheme would not have been introduced under a Tory-only administration – the emergency budget was emphatically a Conservative budget. It was also wrongheaded in its thinking. The proposed cuts in public spending, 25% across most departments, do not have to be made so soon. Furthermore, the scale of them – £40bn more than the cuts Labour proposed, which Alistair Darling said would be more “tougher and deeper” than Thatcher’s – is potentially catastrophic.

These sorts of cuts were not talked about by the Lib Dems during the election campaign, in public anyway. They were not advocated by Vince Cable, who since joining the government has been venturing into TV studios and QT appearances looking like a man constantly having to explain why he left his wife for her sister. Cable warned in January of the dangers of cutting early:

The time to start cutting the budget deficit and its speed must be decided by a series of objective tests which include the rate of recovery, the level of unemployment, the availability of credit to businesses and the government’s ability to borrow in international markets on good terms.

It is much harder to know exactly where Nick Clegg stood, and stands, on the nature of spending cuts, because he is a much more slippery character to pigeonhole than Vince Cable. If Nick Clegg were a Thatcherite obsessed with power, he would surely have joined the Conservative party when Lord Carrington was finding jobs for him in the early 1980s. He is therefore less Tory, and less of a bastard, then some left-wing critics give him credit for. However, his position on cuts is complicated.

In March, in a speech that makes for cringing reading now, Clegg attacked talk of premature cuts as “economic masochism”. Then after the election he claimed it was a conversation with Mervyn King, governor of the bank of England, that was his road to Damascus moment:

In an Observer interview on 6 June, Clegg described his conversation with King on 15 May. “He couldn’t have been more emphatic. He said, ‘If you don’t do this, then because of the deterioration of market conditions it will be even more painful to do it later.'”

Now, in an interview for Five Days that Changed Britain, Clegg says he was persuaded of the need for cuts in…March.

Asked by BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, if he had changed his mind about cuts this year during the five days of negotiations, Clegg said: “I changed my mind earlier than that … firstly remember between March and the actual general election … a financial earthquake occurred in on our European doorstep.”

Pressed on why he failed to convey this to the electorate prior to them casting their votes, Clegg said: “… to be fair we were all … reacting to very, very fast-moving economic events.”

It’s all a bit like a Fawlty Towers episode. The bit where Basil has had to lie, and then has to lie to cover up the initial lie, and then both lies are shown to be baloney so he comes up with a new lie, and so it goes. Until the vase is smashed.

I’m not even sure Nick Clegg knows when he changed his mind. Perhaps he did change his mind some time between March and election day. Perhaps, like most Britons, he bought into the right’s narrative that We Need Cuts and Cuts Are Inevitable, and his limp attempts to save face just got bazookaed out of the water by Mervyn King. It’s perfectly possible; this is Nick Clegg we are talking about, not Superman.

Regardless of the political positioning, the Lib Dems are part of a government that is going to shrink public spending dramatically, with significant consequences for all in Britain, and especially the poorest. It seems to me that the Tories want to cut public spending so dramatically for ideological reasons. So did Vince Cable, way back in January, also in the article I linked to above:

This tired repetition of the Tory line leads us into a very undesirable debate in which the speed and the extent of deficit reduction is being decided not on the basis of how the economy is looking and performing, but on the basis of political soundbites and dogma.

The Tories are able to use the huge deficit built up by Labour, the vast majority of which was due to having to bail out the PRIVATE SECTOR, let’s not forget, as an excuse to cut the size of the state. And the Lib Dems are supporting this…why, exactly? That’s what I hope to explain in the rest of this post (yep, afraid it’s another long one).

1) A dual monarchy

Many commentators, including Andrew Rawnsley and also Andrew Marr, in his History of Modern Britain, noted that New Labour governed a bit like a dual monarchy. Gordon Brown had unprecedented control over economic powers, leaving Blair to engage in foreign affairs as the way to make his mark on his Premiership, which was an area where he felt free of the shackles imposed by Brown on domestic spending. It feels like a similar sort of split for the coalition governing.

It’s easiest to see this in the position of Nick Clegg: as Deputy Prime Minister with special remit for constitutional reform. The compromises that the coalition government has had to face don’t seem to be on specific policies most of the time, but instead they are compromising on the delegation of policy areas. So, for instance, economic and welfare policy seem to be mainly Conservative areas, whereas Constitutional Reform and Civil Liberties seem mainly Lib Dem areas. In civil liberties, of course, a lot of the stuff the Lib Dems want to abolish (such as ID cards) the Tories would want to as well. The same is true to the halt of the third runway at Heathrow. On the other hand, the Lib Dems consented to a cap on immigration from outside the EU, which Clegg knew (and explained in the TV debates) would be worse than useless as a solution to the “problem” (sic) of immigration. In the constitutional reform bill the Tory plan for equalising the constituencies has squeezed in (more on that in due course) whereas Clegg has already described AV as a “miserable little compromise”. PR it ain’t. Apart from these small compromises on policy areas, however, the main compromises seem to be in the delegation of major policy areas.

It is in economic policy that the main popularity test of the government will be, though, and here the Lib Dems have had depressingly little to say. Perhaps this is just because the Tories have 306 seats and the Lib Dems have 57: it’s just a case of the dog wagging the tail.

2) The George Bush effect

I’m not talking about Dave’s “foreign policy gaffes” here. My copy of End of the Party is at my parent’s house, so again I’m quoting from memory. Essentially, Tony Blair’s dealings with George Bush followed this sort of logic:

a) I must stay close to George Bush. That way I have more influence over him.

b) George Bush is closest to those who are most loyal to him. Therefore I must stay very loyal to Bush and make sure I don’t criticise him at all.

So when people like Christopher Meyer wanted Blair to use his “considerable influence” (you are permitted to laugh at this bit) over Bush, there wasn’t actually any influence over Bush in practice, because Blair was so fixated with the idea of constantly agreeing with Bush to stay loyal, and therefore close to him. Since only if you were loyal and stayed close could you have any influence. It’s a vicious circle of non-influence.

The Lib Dems seem to be in a similar position with this coalition. With the possible exception of Simon Hughes, they seem to think if they keep quiet and say nowt then they will get rewarded with the odd bone of constitutional reform and “influence” over other policy areas. Perhaps they are just sucked in by the glitz and glamour of power, just as Toby and Simon were by America in In The Loop. However, I think there’s a slightly more serious problem: dissent is being seen as a problem, rather than as an inevitability of coalition government.

3) Splits in the coalition

An entry in Robin Cook’s diaries (and again, I’m quoting from memory) was about how over one weekend there were two people from the Foreign office (including Cook himself) giving interviews on the Euro. Cook and the other person who’s name escapes me met each other and checked to make sure they were saying exactly the same things in the interviews they gave that weekend. Needless to say, Cook was bemused and baffled on the Monday morning to awake to headlines proclaiming “Government split over Euro”.

In that entry, Cook makes the interesting point that three or four decades ago independently-minded ministers such as Tony Benn or Enoch Powell were appointed to government because, as independent thinkers, they were more likely to come up with an interesting take on a complex problem. Cabinets benefited from the presence of independent minds, rather than being stuffed with “yes men”. Now, because of the 24-hour media, everyone is fixated with being “on message”. Hence the need for the Malcolm Tuckers of this world, to make sure that these minsters “walk the fucking line”.

Perhaps, then, the Lib Dems are almost too scared to show dissent. If they do it in public, the press will seize on it and proclaim “coalition split” and will start speculating about its imminent downfall, etc. If this dissent is merely aired in private, chances are it will be leaked anyway.


The Lib Dems obviously have to accept the decision in Cabinet, as they bear collective responsibility. But they need to fight their corner, against spending cuts and the more regressive Tory policies. They should not be worried of press speculation of “coalition splits”. For a start, the country needs the Lib Dems to stick up for better policies. It would also do the Lib Dems more harm in the long run were they not to speak out, as they would then get painted as Tory stooges, which is much more damaging electorally. They need to keep a distinctive identity, and campaign against cuts.

What exactly is the point of a graduate tax?

July 17, 2010

Vince Cable has argued in favour of a graduate tax. So has Ed Miliband. Both see it as a fairer alternative to the current system.

Under the current system:

If you’re starting a full-time higher education course, the main types of financial help you may be able to get are:

  • a Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant – worth up to £2,906
  • a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your fees in full (up to £3,290 for 2010/11 or £3,225 for 2009/10)
  • a Maintenance Loan – worth up to £4,950 if you live away from home, or more if you study in London (although the maximum you can get is reduced if you’re getting help through the Maintenance Grant)
  • a bursary from your university or college

All the loans you take out to cover your fees/living costs/whatever then get paid back out of your wages as you earn over £15,000 per year.

I fail to see how paying these fees back as you earn is any different to simply paying no fees at all, and then paying a “Graduate Tax” as you earn. Back to Dr Cable:

Mr Cable [sic – he is a doctor, isn’t he? With a PhD and everything?] said that by linking the graduate repayment mechanism to earnings, it may be possible to establish a system where low earners would pay the same or less than they do now, and high earners would pay more.

He earlier told the BBC that under the current system, “if you’re a school teacher or a youth worker you pay the same amount as if you were a surgeon or a highly-paid commercial lawyer”.

“I think most people would think that’s unfair,” he said.

In which case, why don’t we just increase the rate that people on higher incomes pay their student loan back? Voila! Problem solved. No need to tinker with the system, and certainly no need to raise fees.

The Early Skirmishes

April 10, 2010

That last PMQs was typical of most I’ve seen with Gordon Brown. You end up being so frustrated with his evasive answering that you want to throw something at the television.

The problem is that Brown is so much more comfortable in public when he is denying reality. Or, rather, when he puts forward his alternative vision of reality constructed in the cocoon in which he lives: that he is an economic wizard who can lead Britain out of the wilderness of the recession without cutting any services in the meantime, unlike those ghastly Tories.

What is worse, is that the higher echelons of the Labour Party seem content for Brown to live in this fantasy island. Other ministers who have the misfortune to be grounded on planet Earth have to announce Labour’s planned cuts – see Alistair Darling’s “deeper and tougher than Thatcher” and Stephen Timms yesterday, also saying that the NI rise will cost jobs. You can’t blame them I suppose – it beats Brown throwing things at them.

Anyway – where was I? Oh yes, PMQs. It was astonishing. Brown said it’s not his fault that there were not enough helicopters in Helmand, but the fault of the generals who advised him. Again, he did not answer directly questions on robbing pension funds or whether businessmen had been deceived. Brown just launched into a bunch of election soundbites that didn’t answer the question.

He did, perhaps, have the best joke, saying to Cameron “To think he was the future once”, a cute paraphrase of Cameron’s first barb at Blair at PMQs. But the problem with Brown telling jokes, however funny we are told he is in private, is that he delivers them in public the same way that he delivers economic forecasts. And Brown shouldn’t be making jokes about the future. Gordon Brown has been, and always will be, part of the future only in the same way that going bald and your teeth falling out are part of  your future.

Anyway, Cameron won PMQs pretty convincingly.  Nick Clegg piped up with a question about party funding. Attacking Labservative’s funding has been a common theme of Liberal Democrat attacks recently. You’d have thought with their track record, it’s the last area they’d want to highlight.

The opening days have been dominated by rows over National Insurance tax rises. I will bow to the great Malcolm Tucker on this one:

And probably the most thrilling part of the whole thing is the “battle” over national insurance which, brilliantly, no one understands. The Tories have tried to brand NI a tax on jobs, which has the merit of being such an oversimplification that it actually makes it harder to understand what they’re talking about. My advice on NI: move on, nothing to see here.

Chris Dillow’s excellent post here scuppers any Tory attacks that NI rises are a tax on jobs – seeing as in Finland a lower NI rate had naff-all impact on creating jobs. It doesn’t seem as if Labour know what they’re talking about either, mind you – Brown is trying to use it as a way in to his Alternative Reality, where the next election is about “Labour investment versus Tory cuts”. It isn’t, of course, but as mentioned above Brown’s team seem happy to let him wander his happy place and think that it is. It will be interesting to see how St Vince-of-making-jokes-about-Mr-Bean’s criticism of the “nauseating businessmen” goes down. As usual, I think he’s spot on.

This week we’ve also seen Cameron’s latest ploy to attract wavering Labour voters. They are doing this by using lefty buzz words. A month ago they unveiled plans to let people set up “co-operatives”, a policy so half-baked that it was probably written on the back of a half-baked potato. Now Cameron is using the language of equality:

We are already committed to pay transparency and accountability, but I think it is time to go further. The government plays an important role in helping to shape society, so if we win the election we will set up a fair pay review to investigate pay inequality in the public sector.

Some of our most successful private sector companies operate a pay multiple, meaning that the highest paid person doesn’t earn more than a certain multiple of the lowest paid. We will ask the review to consider how to introduce a pay multiple so that no public sector worker can earn over 20 times more than the lowest paid person in their organisation. There are many complex questions that the review will need to address, but I am confident it will not only help tackle unfair pay policies, it will improve cohesion and morale in the public sector too.

This just doesn’t sound convincing, though. If any government were serious about tackling inequality, it would start with the private sector where inequalities were starker. It would also have a coherent policy on gay rights. This post is far too long anyway, but I’ll direct you here for why Cameron has a wrong diagnosis of the inequality problem, and here for why the Tories don’t seem too concerned about making society more equal.

Before I go, a quick word about polls. The absolutely indispensible political betting have the Lib Dems gaining at Labour’s expense, which is very interesting. It’s also, presumably, something which Labour will try and keep from Gordon Brown, so they can leave him in his happy place, talking to the 13 staunch Labour supporters that are left about how nasty everyone is but him.


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