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Gordon’s Gaffe Sinks Labour in Heat of British Election Campaign

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Just when you think it cannot get any worse for Gordon Brown, he drives what has got to be the final nail into his political coffin.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg comes off looking like a genius for refusing to consider teaming up with him in the event of a hung parliament. Because, as many a Labour staffer knows, Gordon Brown is no man to work with — arrogant, temperamental, moody and pernicious daydreamer that he is.

In the town of Rochdale, Mr. Brown stopped to have a chat with a 65-year-old woman named Gillian Duffy. Mrs. Duffy told the Prime Minister that she had been a Labour supporter and voter her entire life, but was concerned about her pension, Britain’s financial state and …

… immigrants.

Yep. Mrs. Duffy, a woman who’s had liberal, soft-socialist leanings her whole adult voting life, had to mention that dreaded “i”-word to someone who thinks it’s a non-issue. She simply wondered why so many Eastern European immigrants are getting in and why they seem to enjoy better services than she does. Duffy said that she’s worked hard, since she was a teenager, and has paid her entire adult life into a system she feels is betraying her — a system that is also being stretched to the limit via unchecked, open-door immigration.

When Brown got back into his chauffered car, he apparently did not know his microphone was still clipped to his shirt. He immediately began to assert to his team that the meeting with Mrs. Duffy was a “disaster,” that he should not have talked to the woman — “whose idea was it?” is a question you can hear him asking — and opined that it was “ridiculous” for her to reconsider her support for Labour.

And he also called her a “bigoted woman.” Honestly, dear reader, watch the video on the link I provided. It’s only too revealing.

Brown reacted with horror when a radio station played back the recording — he put his head in his hands for most of the broadcast — and immediately whipped around to Mrs. Duffy’s home to personally apologize.

Empty gesture, empty words. It’s the final, rock-solid proof we’ve all been waiting for that Gordon Brown is a menace to British democracy.

Two trains of thought here: (1) Gordon Brown does not respect the average British citizen. Immigrants are people he can manipulate. His government can treat them well in the hopes of guaranteed votes, so who cares how many cities, towns and villages become swamped with them? British taxpayers have unreasonable concerns anyway, like the cost of living, the tax they pay, the state of their health service, and the state of their pensions. These people are a write-off in terms of votes anyway, so let’s flood the country with newcomers who are only too happy to be here and get fawned over by the current government.

Or (2): Mr. Brown cannot, for one moment, conceive how anyone could be unhappy with him, his party and his government for putting Britain in the current economic and social mess that it’s in, and thinks it’s genuinely ridiculous that anyone should have complaints. How could anyone not want to give him the chance to be the country’s next elected Prime Minister? He and Labour are about a “fairer future,” after all.

Labour’s chances before Gordon Brown’s gaffe were slim but not grim. They now could not be grimmer. For those who are happy to see the trouncing of this washed-up, just-short-of-tyrannical government, this incident could not have come at a better time.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

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About Nightdragon

  • Hard to believe I’m siding with Zing here, but I am.

  • STM

    Lol. Good to see democracy in action on BC again. Zing, isolated in some big city in the US, who doesn’t understand that the vast bulk of Americans who live elsewhere in the US don’t have a clue about much except the local bar, burger joint and pick-up truck dealership.

    Nyeeh, nyeaaah de-nyeeh-nyeeh

  • zingzing

    or my nonsense can out-stupid your nonsense.

  • Another one of those my dad can beat your dad arguments.

  • zingzing

    yeah, alright stm… “most americans” do know that the queen is just a figurehead. you can’t just make stuff up willy nilly, like your “americans can’t identify canada” theory. it just doesn’t fly.

    and if the president were a monarch, you’d think he’d be able to get more shit done, don’t you? that one doesn’t even bare out logical thought.

    “Hyperbole … what, is that like some amped up version of Souperbowl?”

    oh, i’m on my knees and retching after that one.

  • STM

    Ah, me mate zing… the uber patriotic zing, come to disavow me of my perfectly reasonable non-American observations and make me aware of the truth.

    Come on – it’s free and easy exchange of views here old boy. This is real democracy, here, a great tool for it … and a great democracy for tools as well.

    Hyperbole … what, is that like some amped up version of Souperbowl?

  • zingzing

    stm: “And as most Americans don’t understand but we do (and will never fail to let them know), the Queen is virtually a rubber-stamp figurehead bound by convention – which is law under Britain’s unwritten constitition – not to interfere in the running of a legitimately elected government.”

    who here (or anywhere, really) doesn’t know that? is there a comment you can point me to where an american seems to think that the monarchy is anything more than a figurehead?

    “We started stripping the monarch/executive of power, you started electing a monarch and his group of knights of the round table every few years and giving them more and more power.”

    that’s a bit hyperbolic…

  • STM

    That doesn’t mean I don’t admire all the fanfare of a presidential election, however. You’ve definitely got us beat on that. But it’s things like the electoral college and the other stuff I’ve mentioned that leave me cold.

  • STM

    Sorry, Mark, but I can’t stand the idea of Americans trying to tell us how to run a democracy.

    We got in right in 1688, you guys got it wrong in 1776 and are paying for it now.

    We started stripping the monarch/executive of power, you started electing a monarch and his group of knights of the round table every few years and giving them more and more power.

    You’ve had a few balck knights too over the years.

    It’s scary stuff. Americans are getting royally (no pun intended) conned.

    They genuinely democratically elect an administration every few years that is often the antithesis of democractic (usage in the modern, accepted sense, not the ancient Greek for any one who wants to split hairs about democracies and representative republics under constituions and representative constitutional monarchies).

    Might work fine for you guys, but I’ve had a look at both, and I can tell which one works best and with the least amount of fuss.

    And it’s this side of the big pond, not the other 🙂

  • STM

    Liz isn’t the Queen of England in this country.

    She’s the Queen of Australia, and she’s represented by an Aussie governor-general.

    Which means we already have an Australian head of state.

  • STM

    Mark: “if Australia became a totally independent republic”.

    Lol. If you know anything about us and our history, you’ll realise we already are totally independent.

    We’re just not a republic. Thank God. Constitutional monarchy is the way to go, with all its in-built protections and safeguards not for any one person or political party or ideology but for the big freedom kahuna … rule of law.

  • STM

    Make that “we don’t have the problems the Poms have” …

  • STM

    Of course, we don’t have the problems have because we have preferential voting and proportional representation. Their insistence on sticking with an archaic first-past-the-post voting system is the main reason they are knee-deep – and rising – in brown stuff as we speak.

    Nevertheless, I can’t see Clegg entering a coalition with either major party (hope I’m right on that), which leaves the Tories to govern with a minority, which of course opens the way for another poll later this year or next year – hugely unpopular.

    But Cameron has a right to govern. I hope Clegg concedes that is the case. The people have spopken and they don’t want Brown. He can’t just squat at No 10 forever.

  • Typical Dumb White Bloke

    Unelected cabinet influenced by lobbysists and the rich and powerful = oligarchy.

    A US president has way too much power for one person. Then, as we’ve seen, you get unelected cabinet members – the tail – wagging the executive – the dog.

    As for us becoming a republic. Forget it. We’ve only got you guys as the yardstick.

    As I’ve said before, no thanks. I prefer a system that really is democratic.

  • An oligarchy, Stan? C’mon, lay off the codeine you’re taking for the pain of a harsh Aussie sunburn.

    You want an oligarchy, check out Fatboy Chavez’s Bolivarian La-La Land.

    Personally, I’d LOVE it only too much if Australia became a totally independent republic, but you folks just don’t want to cut loose those pursestrings.

  • Roger, #84: “Initially, I thought you were going to bite my head off …”

    Oh, dear, I really do have quite a reputation, it would seem!

  • A circus is an apter phrase.

  • What I find most interesting, considering the comments above, is that the forming of the government – catch the phrase, almost sacrilegious to the American ear – does away with all the infighting for the duration.

    So yes, the American version – a degeneration, I suppose because they felt they had to be different – is but a dog and pony show. Everything is a crisis.

  • STM

    Lol. Yes, I’ve heard that one.

    Another good one. Kevin Rudd gets a call on the red phone from Barack in Washington.

    Says Barack: “Kev, we’ve run out of condoms for our troops and because of the GFC, we can’t get any extra ones made in the US. We need 300,000 as soon as possible. Oh, and, look … make sure they’re all extra large size”.

    Kev agrees.

    He calls Defence Procurement.

    “Mate,’ he says, “Barack’s just phoned and asked for 300,000 extra large condorms for the US military. Can you get ’em done quaicksmart?”

    “Yes,’ says the Defence Minister, “300,000 extra large, can do, but what about the wrapping?”

    Says Kev: “No probs mate. But make sure they’re extra large and make sure there’s an Australian flag on each wrapper, and include this: ‘Condom. Made in Australia. Size: small’.”

  • LOL. So, then, are you the bloke in the old joke… You know, the one about the Aussie in London who’s feeling lonely and in need of companionship one night, so he enters into a contract with a lady of the night.

    Aware of the fearsome reputation of antipodean males, but needing to put food on the table, the tart says, “You’ll have to be careful with me – I’ve got a weak heart.”

    “Ah, that’s OK, Sheila,” says the Aussie. “Lie on yer side and I’ll try to miss it.”

  • STM

    Doc: “Hung … a parliament that truly represents me”.

    That’s nice Doc. It’ll only represent me if it’s well hung.

  • STM

    Almost right, Doc. The Prime Minister DOES occupy a role on the executive arm of government. And as most Americans don’t understand but we do (and will never fail to let them know), the Queen is virtually a rubber-stamp figurehead bound by convention – which is law under Britain’s unwritten constitition – not to interfere in the running of a legitimately elected government.

    It actually works exactly the opposite to how it looks on paper. I believe this is where the confusion lies for Americans, who haven’t lived under the system and might only have drawn their conclusions from reading.

    She is allowed to act if a government is acting unconstitutionally, however.

    And vice-versa … which are the two built-in safeguards that paradoxically ensure that power remains in the hands of the people through their elected representatives.

    I don’t see why some of our cousins on the wrong side of the big and little ponds find it so hard to work out.

    Maybe because they don’t want to know 🙂

    Because I can tell you now, if anyone tries to turn this place into a republic, or wants to pull the Union Flag from the corner of ours, they’ll be pulling my picture of Liz and my Southern Cross out of my cold, dead hands.

    Why? Because it all works perfectly and has done, as I love to point out (perhaps a bit too gleefully, he admits)since 1688. And what ain’t broke never needs fixin’!

    That’s where those Yanks got it all wrong. They pretended to be victims of tyranny and a tuppeny tax on a pound of tea and sewed themselves up in the greatest tyranny of all … an oligarchy masquerading as a democratically elected government.

    Of course, I’m sure Liz would take ’em back in a heartbeat. A phone call from Barry is all it would take.

  • So, as of this hour, it looks as if it’s a hung parliament.

    At last – a parliament that truly represents me!


  • STM

    Doc: “So the debate gets a lot more heated, somebody says something about somebody else’s mother, and handbags start flying”.

    Those Yanks, eh Doc … love a good handbag fight.

    On a more serious note, of course he’s right. I don’t tend to walk around all day in Australia thinking, “those bloody conservatives, they’re ruining our country and destroying workers’ rights”, or “those namby-pamby liberal types, they want to destroy our way of life, change our flag and turn us into a republic (on that: the US is the only yardstick we have … good for you lot over the big pond, but no thanks. No fixing stuff that ain’t broke)”.

    But what is, is. If someone wins a federal election and I don’t like it, I know it’s going to be three years of fun before I can’t a chance to poke them in the bum with a very sharp pencil.

    It’s all a bit of a game, really. And as much as I hate just-to-the-right of Genghis Khan conservatives prattling on about small government, and namby-pamby liberal types wanting to destroy our traditions, I don’t wake up everyday THAT worried about it.

    The process of rule of law is one to trust. As the Poms have proved, it’s been working continuously since 1688. In the form it’s in in the US, it’s been going with just the one hiccup since 1777.

    It’s a fairly good track record; that’ll do me.

  • Dreadful, I was looking for a transcript, but couldn’t come up with it.

    Anyway, here’s the link to the NPR program referred to earlier.

  • Initially, I thought you were going to bite my head off, Mark. I’m glad I wasn’t totally off target, only ventured a speculation.

  • “a major part of the US population consists of fundamentalists or plainly fanatics. And our politicians cater to those sentiments.”

    This is true.

  • Indeed. When they spoke of the Queen making this “monumental decision” (on analogy with the SCOTUS decision in 2004 regarding the Kerry-Bush controversy), they spoke of her as been 5 for and 4 against. Delightful.

    The de-emphasizing of “the executive” is also an interesting twist, as well as there being no need to always be in “the re-election” mode but being free, instead, to tend to the affairs of the state.

    The one thing they are going to keep – so they say – for the future are the debates between the leading party condenders. They’ve proven to be a welcome addition, so “the cult of the personality” – on analogy with the American experience, may well become a regular feature for the future of the British election practice.

    BTW, can’t get through to the NPR website at this time; too much traffic perhaps.

  • That’s the difference with a parliamentary system, Rog. The Prime Minister isn’t the executive – he’s just the leader of the ruling party. His job is to run the government under a mandate from the Queen.

    The Queen is the Executive. In theory, she can choose whoever she wants as PM, can dissolve the goverment at any time, and can veto bills; however, in practice and by tradition, she never does any of those things.

    Which is just as well, because we’ve fought several bitter civil wars and other constitutional disagreements on the subject, and these invariably concluded with the monarch looking like an (occasionally headless) asshat.

    A fact of which I am sure her Majesty is keenly aware.

  • What I found most interesting is the changing of the guard – the PM – as a consequence of the parliamentary election; which is to say that “the executive” comes part and parcel with the results – a package deal, so to speak.

    Also, about the Queen serving in the capacity of our SCOTUS.

    You might check the discussion on NPR today, comparing the two political systems. It was most informative. If I find the link, I’ll post it.

  • Thanks, Dreadful. I’ll make certain to turn the BBC 3 on as soon as I get home.

  • Another great tradition is the race to see which constituency can declare their result first. I think the record is about 45 minutes from when the polls close at 10 p.m.

    There are a few places which are known for declaring early: mostly inner-city seats where the ballot boxes can be transported to the count quickly. And there’s a great rivalry between them to see who can do it first.

  • I used to love watching the BBC’s election night coverage: I’d stay up till 3 or 4 a.m., which is usually when the final outcome becomes clear and the leaders of the losing parties publicly concede. There may be a little longer to wait this time, so the 8-hour time difference is my friend for once!

    I hope I can catch at least some of the coverage either online or on BBC America. The BBC has a knack of capturing the history, the gravity and the occasion while making the whole thing fun and exciting. It’s like a broadcast of a big sporting event.

    The popular favourite is their ‘Swingometer’. As the exit polls and early results start to come in, they’ll select a particular poll or constituency and calculate by how many per cent the vote has swung from one party to another since the last election. They then cut to a pundit standing in front of a green screen on which is projected a giant dial surrounded by little coloured figures representing seated MPs, and says, “If this result were to be replicated across the whole country, the new House of Commons would look like this…” He then swings the dial and a bunch of red seats turn blue (or vice versa). Terrific stuff.

    Any comments from the Anglo-Saxon contingent?

    I think it’s part of the American temperament to see things in black and white, rather than shades of grey. “If you’re not for me, you’re against me”. Under this paradigm, there’s much more at stake because if your side loses, you lose everything. So the debate gets a lot more heated, somebody says something about somebody else’s mother, and handbags start flying.

    Hence, in the US, you only have two major political parties, whereas in Britain there are several. We tend to be better at recognising that there are more than two possible positions on an issue.

  • NPR had a great coverage of the election in Britain – strictly BBC commentators – and it was a treat. For some reason, it strikes me that politics over there is quite civilized compared to what we see in the US – they all know it’s a “game” and they play by the rules.

    Perhpas the ugliness in the New World has got to do with the fact that a major part of the US population consists of fundamentalists or plainly fanatics. And our politicians cater to those sentiments.

    Any comments from the Anglo-Saxon contingent?

  • steve

    an 800 lb elephant is a rather small elephant Ruvy.

  • STM

    Yeah, just that. He’s popular too in Italy. I wonder whether he’s done his dash recently, though.

  • Anything in particular, or just the general berlusconiness of Berlusconi? 🙂

  • STM

    Italy’s a basket case at the moment, though, along with some other members of the EU. I can’t believe Berlusconi. It’s too bizarre for words.

  • Isabella Rossellini was another.

    Although they have to share the credit for her with the Swedes.

  • STM

    Mark, I guess it’s not the same opting for dual Aussie/UK citizenship as the two countries are so connected even if they are really, really different.

    Then again, I’ve heard the same argument being used by Americans in support of their decision to go for dual Aussie citizenship: “The two countries are so similar … Australia is the 51st state”, etc.

    I could, however, understand an American not choosing UK citizenship.

    Although pragmatism is a good rule, I reckon.

  • STM

    Jeff: “Actually Stan, the Chinese invented pasta-the Italians simply added oregano to it.”

    They perfected it, too. It’s among their greatest achievements.

    Isabella Rossellini was another.

    St Helena is quite well known here Jeff as a 10-things-I’d-like-to-do-before-I-die-type destination because you can get there quite easily from Cape Town, which isn’t that far away. Aussies gtravel a fair bit to south africa because of its proximity, although it’s a bit of a worry lately.

    How do you think I guessed it first up??

  • STM

    Jeff: “What are you lot going to do when you journey to the bleeding island and discover I really have not lived there for years?”

    We’d already worked that out.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Canadians have a good two-word explanation for St. Helena’s airport or lack thereof it is “Lowest bidder”


  • Jeff Forsythe

    64-And with truly good reason Doc


  • Jeff Forsythe

    Actually Stan, the Chinese invented pasta-the Italians simply added oregano to it.


  • What are you lot going to do when you journey to the bleeding island and discover I really have not lived there for years?

    Hide from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Point of order, I nearly put forth that you “splash out” and hire a sea plane, but many would have suggested that I meant for you to swim.


  • Jeff Forsythe

    Suddenly everyone is an ruddy expert on one of the most remote islands on the face of this Earth? My silly chums have completely forgotten that small private sea planes are easily hired between Ascension and there?

    Indeed the airport is on hold for now until they can get the Italian construction firms sorted out.

    You have all gone daft! 🙂

    What are you lot going to do when you journey to the bleeding island and discover I really have not lived there for years?


  • STM

    Jeff: “It rains beer Stan?”

    We had a beer advertisement it actually did. They seeded the clouds with beer-m,aking stuff and when it p.ssed down, it p.ssed down.

  • STM

    Actually, they do a decent motorbike too. But also temperamental. The shoes are all right as well.

    But airports?? Nah, don’t think so.

  • STM

    Nah, Doc, you can go from St Helena to Cape Town and fly direct from there.

    Can you believe your mob hired the Italians to build an airport? And everyone’s wondering why nothing’s happened yet??

    Love ’em, but they shouldn’t be allowed to make anything but coffee, pasta, scooters and temperamental supercars.

  • Allow me to assist, Jeff.

    St Helena, as discussed, being devoid of an airport, you’d have to hop on the ship to Ascension next time it puts in. I’ve therefore taken the liberty of plotting the great circle route from there to Sydney for you.

    Alternatively, you could go by sub, which would cut out the sea journey to Ascension but on the flip side there would be a bloody great icy continent in the way.

    Hope this helps.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    It rains beer Stan? Quick what’s the fastest route there?


  • STM

    Raim? Loooxury.

    You don’t know what rain is until you’ve lived here. It pisses down.

  • Most Brits whine and complain endlessly about the weather. Nothing ever seems to please them except that – maybe – one day every three years when it’s sunny with just the right number of white puffy clouds in the sky, the temperature’s just the right side of 70 and the breeze doesn’t pick up above the prescribed number of mph.

    I never had any problems with the British weather, especially the rain, which I love in all its forms and miss terribly for most of the year here.

    We’ve had an unusually wet winter and spring here in Fresno. There was a day and a half of rain here last week, but now the temperature’s up in the high 80s and summer’s under way. It won’t rain again until late October.

    Depressing. Still, I have my Rain and Thunder CD which I play every night to lull me to sleep. That’ll have to do.

  • Stan: “Then when I get there, a few weeks does me and I can’t wait to get out of the bloody place. It’s bizarre.”

    It’s not bizarre at all. It’s perfectly understandable. A few weeks in this place and most sensible Australians and Americans alike want to leave. Abysmally crap weather, which lasts several weeks at a time here, will do that to you.

    There’s nothing more soul-degrading than weeks of rainy, raw conditions, then suddenly a day or perhaps two of brilliant sunshine and, if you’re lucky, a temp of about 68 F, and then week after consecutive week rainy, raw conditions. It’s no wonder to me most Brits are so eccentric. Poor things can’t help it.

    I am seriously beginning to believe that I’ll never experience a genuine summer again. So, yeah, I’m desperate to get back to Boston. We may have 5 feet of snow on the ground for most of the winter, but goddamnit, we at least have sultry, soupy, real summers!

  • Ruvy: “Don’t you Brits have enough of those cockroaches running around already?”

    According to our political Lords and Masters, Ruvy, there’s always room for more.

  • Dr. D: At least we understand each other in that regard. In that, we are downright equals.

    I don’t want anything to dilute my sense of American-ness, and even if I could afford British citizenship, I probably would not take it. Despite what Stan says (and I know he’s right), I would still feel a sense of betrayal at taking dual citizenship. I just plain don’t want it. Not for me. I’ve nothing against the country that let me in, but I’m just too proud of the one I originated in.

    We see eye-to-eye on this matter.

  • Stan, I knew you were kidding around. No offense (or offence as you might prefer it) was taken. Perhaps you didn’t get my very straight-talking Boston sense of humor (or humour, as you probably prefer it).

    In short, no worries, chum.

  • STM

    I had a look too … and came to similar conclusions regarding the “standard” of journalism.

    The internet is a great tool for deomocracy. It’s also great democracy for tools 🙂

  • Sh.t-stirring again Ruve …

    He does enjoy it so…

    I took a look at the ‘article’ he linked to. Nothing more than a string of unsupported assertions, rumours and innuendos for the most part.

  • Roger @ #41: Yes.

  • STM

    Sh.t-stirring again Ruve …

    You needn’t worry. David Cameron will be the next PM, not Nick Clegg (or Gordon Brown).

    Britons might be appear to you to be stupid, but I’m not sure they’re that stupid yet that they’d elect a traditional third party to government at the snap of their fingers.

    If Clegg eventually wants government, he might need to enter into a loose coalition first. He’s too “cold” … he’s done OK in the TV debates but I still believe for all the hoo-ha going on over there about hung parliaments and the like, Cameron is a shoo-in but not with the same majority he might have had. However, it’s likely much of Labour’s lost vote will also go to the Lib Dems. The chattering classes are more likely to go that way rather than the way of the Conservative Party. Should be interesting no matter what.

    And probably with Labour, as that’s where the lines migthey should be in a coalition with Labour as that is where the policy lines blur a bit more than they would with the Conservatives.

    Whatever happens, though, if they hold a balance of power in the House, they will be able to exercise some of it and they will exercise it too. No doubt there.

  • By the way, Mark, MY use of the words, “bastards” and “cockroaches” WAS meant to be pejorative.

  • STM

    But you’re right, 800 quid is a lot of dough that you could be using for other stuff. Like beer.

  • STM

    I have dual Australian/British citizenship BTW, and I’m entitled to three … Irish too, although I don’t see the point these days as all the Euro passports do the same thing.

    I have a mate who has dual US/Australian citizenship (two dual US/Aussie mates actually but the other one doesn’t have ANY passports as far as I can tell).

    The one who does grew up in the US and moved here in his late 20s but he’s found his Aussie citizenship good for travelling on as there are pitfalls in flashing a US passport in certain places.

    It’s always good to keep your options open.

  • Since Nick Clegg is looking so good to a lot of you, I thought I’d raise the issues raised by this article.

    Apparently there is more than one Bernie Madoff running around – and they’re not all Jews either. This fellow, Nadhmi Auchi, sounds like a real winner. Just what Britain really needs – another rich bastard who kisses Wahhabi assholes.

    Don’t you Brits have enough of those cockroaches running around already?

  • STM

    MarK “Dopey bugger … However, I do thank you for your concern.”

    It wasn’t meant in the pejorative Mark … we call people bastards here and it’s not meant to offend.

    Just so you know.

  • Can you still collect Social Security?

  • I feel the same way as you, Mark (in the opposite direction, of course) – though not for pecuniary reasons.

    (800 quid, though – aiiiee!).

    I did consider the possibility of going for US citizenship at one time, but decided that it wasn’t for me. I’m English and proud of it. I just don’t feel American, and never will.

    Like you, I’m happy with maintaining my permanent resident status for as long as I’m here, and renewing it every 10 years as the law requires.

    Besides, there is one side benefit, which is that I can get out of doing jury service. I just love checking that little box on the summons and sending it back! 🙂

  • Stan, I’m not being a “dopey bugger” with regard to passing up UK citizenship. It’s just that the price of attaining said citizenship these days is £800 — money I surely do not have at my disposal (and if I did, I’d have other uses to put it toward).

    I’m satisfied with my indefinite leave to remain. However, I do thank you for your concern.

  • there may even have been an inflection in his voice at one point.”

    You mean it’s nonexistent at times. See, that where you British ear proves an immense advantage.

  • A view from the Greens.

  • Brown’s not the most inspiring of politicians.

    Apparently he did give a rather fiery speech to a citizens’ group yesterday.

    According to some analysts, there may even have been an inflection in his voice at one point.

    Makes one wonder where that Gordon Brown has been hiding all this time.

    Or perhaps he’d just had a really good cup of tea before walking out onto the podium.

  • If it’s a hung parliament and Labour or the Tories come holding out the olive branch, the Lib Dems will change their tune.

    However, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Tories, while they may not quite win enough seats for an overall majority, will come close enough that they can cut a deal with the Northern Ireland Unionist parties which would allow them to function as a minority government.

    Which, of course, would probably prompt Labour to redouble their efforts and get the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on board.

    Of course, Northern Ireland doesn’t usually declare its election results until the next day, which may give Labour a head start.

    It’s going to be an interesting Friday…

  • A link to Tony Blair’s involvement.

  • STM

    The Lib Dems have said they won’t enter a coalition with Labour. I assume they haven’t said anything about the conservatives.

    However, the truth is, you only need a one seat majority if the other parties WON’T form a coalition. Problem with that is, the lesser of the two opposition parties won’t form a coalition, they hold the balance of power.

    Should be an interesting time in the Old Dart over the next few years.

    I saw a great heading on page 1 of one of the pommy tabloids floating around the office the other day, which we have flown in every day along with some of the US papers. It was a classic:

    “Brown toast”.

    I reckon that’s right, too. They’re in for a fair dinkum shellacking I reckon.

    By the way, Mark … don’t be a dopey bugger with the UK citizenship.

    It’s both perfectly acceptable AND legal now for a US citizen to hold dual citizenship, which really does have tremendous advantages. The US government now recognises it for certain countries, the UK and Australia among them.

    Not sure they’d agree to North Korea though.

    I assume you qualify, having lived there now for so long. When you do get back to Boston, you’ll probably get homesick for the Old Dart … even though you don’t think you will.

    For some reason, the place does that. It plays with the mind. I’m always REALLY glad to leave, but always have quite a powerful yearning to go back.

    Even when I was in Portugal a few years back, I went through Frankfurt … and kept thinking I should have gone via London so I could have a few days in the old country.

    Then when I get there, a few weeks does me and I can’t wait to get out of the bloody place. It’s bizarre.

  • Dr. D is right, Stan. Britain, according to the newest polls, is still on track for a hung parliament. We’re likely to see a nearly even split between all three parties. It’s amazing that some people would still vote for Labour after all they’ve done (or HAVEN’T done) after 13 years, but these people are still getting high off the fumes of 1997 and can’t bear to see that link get severed … So the “fun” here in Albion is likely to continue for the next five years (oh joy, oh joy).

    Oh, Dr. D, I never answered your question: No, I cannot vote here, I’m an official indefinite-leave-to-remain U.K. resident, but still wholly an American citizen. So, yeah, when I say it’s the Tories or UKIP for me, I speak in terms of how I would vote if I could.

  • Hardly a shoo-in, Stan. Have you seen the opinion polls? None of the parties are anywhere near an overall majority at this point.

    There is one poll today which looked at marginal seats and suggests that the Tories might just squeak over the line, but the polling company – Ipsos-MORI – also conceded that a third of voters in those constituencies still hadn’t conclusively decided who they were going to vote for.

    There is the other factor which is that in past elections a hung parliament has often been talked about and seemed like a strong possibility, but when it came to election day the voters ended up coming down pretty strongly on one side or the other.

    The difference this time is that for all practical purposes there’s an even three-way split in party popularity: the Lib Dems have kept pace with the other two right up until the end of the campaign, which is unprecedented.

  • STM

    Mate, they are goooooone. I notice Blair’s back and has been sent on Mission; Impossible – Save Gordon.

    Cameron’s a shoo-in at this point. Can’t say I blame the Poms either … Brown’s not the most inspiring of politicians.

    At least Blair had a go.

  • It appears, looking at all this, that the key issue is the 800 lb. elephant in the British sitting room – the enforced loss of national identity to appease the multi-culti assholes looking for cheap Muslim labor. That is where Gordon Brown appears to have run aground – expressing his contempt for the average grandma, of all people, concerned over this issue.”

    Thank you, Ruvy, for being someone who had the guts to finally point out that elephant in the British sitting room. I’d have done it myself, but I was too curious to see if it eventually would anyway.

    And, as John Wilson pointed out in comment #11, this is the fixed idea of The Way Things Are that mere citizens should learn to accept. And Gordon Brown and Labour just cannot get their heads around why the average British citizen would be unhappy with it. They’re not interested anyway. All they’re interested in is power and the easiest way of attaining such power is letting in and then manipulating the types of people who already have nothing to lose.

    It’s amazing, isn’t it? You’d think a political party would grow more accommodating the longer it was in power, to please the electorate. But, as most political parties have proven, in the U.S. as well as Britain, all they ever get is more and more arrogant and far less accommodating and responsive to the electorate’s needs.

    And that is what’s so deeply wrong with Labour at the moment. I don’t know how their fortunes would have changed if they’d ditched Brown while they had the chance, but the fact that they didn’t speaks volumes about their mindset — and, I dearly hope, their future.

  • the 800 lb. elephant in the British sitting room

    Ruvy, you and I may not see eye to eye on much but at least let’s get our units of measurement right.

    That’s the 57-stone elephant, if you please.


  • Farage for PM!

    Well, he is running, but even if he wins the seat he’ll have to pull off the coalition deal of the millennium for that to happen!

  • STM

    Speaking of elephants.

    We actually got a story in from Italy the other day that started: “An Italian family were surprised to find an elephant relaxing in their front yard …”

    Well, you would be, wouldn’t you, especially at breakfast, what with the dog going ballistic and all the neighbours poking their heads out of the window as well?

    The elephant escaped from a travelling circus, wandered into the village and decided to find a nice front yard to crash in. And when I say crash, I really do mean crash. That was the end of this season’s tulips.

    Eventually the trainer twigged and went looking for the elephant, which probably wouldn’t have been that hard to find, just quietly.

    Back to longe room elephants. The real elephant in the lounge room in terms of Ruve’s analogy, though, is how Britain is suffering in the wake of the GFC, and Cameron’s determination to loosen the bonds with Europe a tad (thumbs up on that one, David!).

    Clegg is the other elephant … for both the major parties.

  • It appears, looking at all this, that the key issue is the 800 lb. elephant in the British sitting room – the enforced loss of national identity to appease the multi-culti assholes looking for cheap Muslim labor. That is where Gordon Brown appears to have run aground – expressing his contempt for the average grandma, of all people, concerned over this issue.

    Since the British first past the post system will keep the BNP or its like from winning any seats, three identical triplets, each as contemptuous of the common man as the other, will emerge at the top. Thus it appears, for all of the media fiddling its tune that “all” of the major parties are being represented in debates, and for all of the candidates dutifully dancing the reel, a major voice – that of the British or English nationalist – is being excluded.

    The British are being treated to the 2008 and 2004 presidential elections, and the 2009 Israeli parliamentary elections, on their own turf. No choice at all, in other words. I hope they are properly grateful to the mighty powers that be for granting them this gift. Democracy in action!

    Hip hip! Hurrah!
    Hip hip! Hurrah!
    Hip hip! Hurrah, and G-d save the Queen!

  • Arch Conservative

    Farage for PM!

  • STM

    As we’ve pointed out all along, the politics people like Doc and I experience are generally way to the left of America’s, even when they’re on the right.

    I imagine that Americans would think the right-wing party in Australia, paradoxically known as the Liberal Party, to be slightly left of Obama yet here they are regarded as being only marginally to the left of the blackshirts, especially on issues like asylum seekers/illegal immigration (which they milk for all it’s worth).

    Yet they are committed to such things as universal health care (provided there are tax breaks for people who choose to have private health insurance as well).

    It just goes to show how different America’s policies are when compared to the rest of the developed world.

    I can’t for the life of me understand why Americans think it’s OK to spend thousands of billions on, say, outdated air and naval fleets that are now largely not doing much and have no real enemy to fight when the nature of the conflicts the US is involved in have changed dramatically in the past 40 years, but if people call for a fraction of that to be spend on health care, they’re socialists and it’s the end of the world as we know it.

    Bizarre stuff.

    Anyway, back to Gordon Brown. I say it’s time to give David Cameron a go. He will almost certainly romp in, with the Lib-Dems throwing a spanner in the works. Labour have had their innings … and it’s time they some time in Opposition to reflect on just what it is they need to do next time to hold government.

    The only concern I have about the Conservative Party is that historically, they are not a party of the people but a party devoted to the interests of the upper classes and the new rich and who favour unregulated capitalism and free-market ideas over slightly regulated capitalism and prudential regulation underpinning free-market capitalism. There’s only an ever so subtle difference, but it’s important because Labour traditionally – for all its faults – has recognised that workers’ interests need to be looked after legislatively because they know workers can be screwed by unchecked free-market greed even though they are the people often producing the bulk of the wealth.

    They can become arrogant in government. I hope they’ve learned their lesson after being in the opposition wilderness for so long. I genuinely hope it’s a lesson Cameron has learned AND understands. Power corrups though … it’s a fine balance between good government and complete and total arrogance.

    As for immigration, I agree to a certain extent. It’s NOT a non-issue. When people look around and see what they think is their own country being given away, and knowing that governments are there only as the elected representatives of the people, how is it a non-issue. Surely we are now big enough to separate issues like out and out racism from fear of unchecked immigration and the danger of forced multiculturalism when it comes to preserving the very nature of the society that is attractive to migrants in the first place.

    And if the Brits think they have problems: in Australia, where we have less than a quarter the population of Britain, we now have twice as many immigrants coming in.

    It’s a huge issue here too and like the UK, the debate cannot be stifled by throw-away put-down lines like Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” comments.

    We are seeing the same kind of arrogance here, with the government using emotion-laden terms like “climate-change DENIER”, with all the connotations that has, to describe people who might want to exercise their democratic right to question why a government is trying to push through a cap and trade scheme _ a new, giant tax effectively – without proper public debate. Thankfully, enough people jumped up and down and the opposition managed to kill it in the senate.

    Still, governments and PM’s need to remember that once they become so out of touch with the needs of ordinary people, they will suffer at the polls.

    Populism doesn’t work either. There has to be a legitimate area of middle ground, and only politicians who understand that deserve to remain in government.

  • Come on, Dreadful, Orwell is your national treasure, just like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells – not to mention D.H. Lawrence and E. M. Forster.

    We don’t need to go on.

  • If David Cameron ran for office in the US, he would be tagged a Loony Dangerous Radical Socialist. On some issues, he’s half a click left of Obama.

    [Yet Labour intelligentsia are wailing fearfully as if a Tory government will be an amoral disaster. They really hate Cameron because he’s rich and because, they think, he will favor his fellow members of the upper classes. Right?]

  • Based on a novel by a committed socialist appalled at the travesty of his beliefs that was Stalinism.

  • Except for 1984 – a well-done British-made movie.

  • It doesn’t look then as though any large scale, socialist-based movement aiming at overthrowing the capitalist machinery would come from that neck of the woods.

    Nope. ‘Twas not by chance that Marx lived for many years in London – he’s even buried there – but it was on the other side of the continent that his ideas took root.

    Marxism, with its element of coercion, goes against the grain for us Brits. We just don’t take kindly to be told what to do – and especially what to think.

    Interestingly, the playwright and screenwriter Michael Frayn once wrote a farce called Balmoral, which depicts an alternate universe in which the 1917 Revolution took place not in Russia, but in Britain.

    It’s a pretty funny play, but it’s generally regarded as one of Frayn’s least successful efforts and it’s easy to see why. The premise just isn’t convincing.

  • It doesn’t look then as though any large scale, socialist-based movement aiming at overthrowing the capitalist machinery would come from that neck of the woods. The Left-Right division is Britain remains within the respectable bounds of politics as usual. (Then again, the Brits weren’t as burned by the Bank of England as we have our Wall Street crowd, so there isn’t the kind of animosity that exists in some of the US radical circles. You’re not as likely to collect heads and prominently display them in a public square.)

    A greater impetus for a radical kind of change might come about as a result of the EU doings and future fortune(s).

  • Political polarisation in Britain reached a peak in the 80s, under Thatcher. In particular there were things like the year-long miners’ strike, the anti-nuclear movement, endemic unemployment, inner-city riots etc.

    Turned out, though, that those protests were the work of a small but vociferous minority. The people may have been generally sympathetic to the protestors’ plight, but they drew the line and violence and socialist rhetoric.

    Labour’s big strategic error was to conclude that the protests represented a massive popular movement, and responded by moving even further to the left. They went into the elections of ’83 and ’87 fully expecting to be swept back into power – and instead got their red arses handed to them.

  • Thanks. So it definitely looks as though there isn’t nowhere near as much polarization as in the US – except for the select issues like immigrations (and of course economic policy during times of hardship). More a matter of style, overall, than of substance.

    Even foreign policy, I imagine, can’t constitute any great point of contention or difference (as it would be absorbed under the more general question of economic policy).

  • It is quite a long story, but the short version is that the British never really bought into socialism.

    Social democracy is fine, so that despite some initial resistance the idea of a national health service, national insurance, unemployment benefits and their accompanying assorted bells and whistles caught on to such an extent that a political party which advocates the abolition of the welfare state is committing political suicide.

    That was the ideological advantage Labour had, and they never did squander it. What they did was to allow the trade unions – which are socialist by definition – to have too much influence and control on the party.

    Britain wasn’t having any of that, with the result that they got tossed out on their ear in ’79, a bunch of disgruntled moderates quit and formed their own party (which later merged with the Liberals) and with Thatcherism presented as a vigorous, viable alternative, Labour found themselves so irretrievably in the political wilderness that they literally had to reinvent themselves in order to have a hope of gaining power again.

    So modern Labour is solidly centrist – so much so that on some issues they’re to the right of both of the other major parties. Ironically, it’s now the Conservatives who’ve been out of power for so long that they’ve had to move to the centre to make themselves electable.

    Ideologically, now, the differences between the three main parties are on most issues quite subtle.

  • I still fail to understand, Dreadful, how Labour managed to squander their ideological advantage. Talking about the advent of the British form of socialism, starting with Fabianism and all the protests against the evils of the Industrial Revolution, the English people are light years ahead of the Americans when it comes to socialist-leaning ideology and sympathies with labor unions (combinations).

    I’m certain it’s a long story; I heard you address this a while back – when speaking of Margaret Thatcher.

  • And that cuts across party lines, John – unfortunately so.

  • John Wilson

    Sounds as though Gordon Brown has a fixed idea of The Way Things Are and mere citizens should learn to accept it. An attitude that is all too common today among politicians.

  • And if Parliament is hung, it’s likely to be with the Tories as the largest party, with enough seats to be able to function as a minority government with the support of the Ulster Unionists and UKIP (if the latter win any seats, which is unlikely).

  • No, they don’t surprise me, Mark, although I didn’t realise you were eligible to vote. Do you have dual citizenship now?

    Because of the vagaries of the UK’s first-past-the-post system, you don’t need to worry about a Lib Dem government. Although they’ve been ahead in some polls, they’d need to win an astonishingly large percentage of the vote in order to get an overall majority or even become the largest party.

    Not going to happen. I’ll settle for them being a coalition partner. And on immigration, I doubt they’re going to get a plum gig like the Home Office in any deal they might make with Labour or the Tories.

    I have a strong suspicion that the much-talked-about hung parliament won’t happen, either. There’ll be a last-minute surge on one side or the other, just enough to squeak someone over the line. Whether it’ll be red flags or blue waving, goodness only knows.

  • Nick Clegg has been showing real political grace in this election, it’s true. And so did Bill Clinton in ’92. I remember that campaign like it took place yesterday.

    Clegg’s gov’t will be even worse on immigration. An instant asylum for every illegal immigrant in the country? Not getting my vote. It’s either Cameron or UKIP for me (and I’m sure my choices surprise no-one).

  • Time zones… heh.

    I’m old enough to remember the days when British radio and TV stations went off the air at midnight, or even earlier, and the TV didn’t come back on until lunchtime. It was a huge deal when ITV (IIRC) pioneered their breakfast show back in the early/mid eighties.

    Some stations, like Radio One, didn’t even put out a full day’s programming, but would simply broadcast Radio Two when their own shows were done.

    Seems so strange now, in this era of 24/7/365 media.

  • BBC Three, BTW, is an all-round classical programming station, including some great jazz as well. The time zone though always throws me off.

    They used to broadcast Opera Live from Covent Garden (6PM London time but a day before or so ours), and I would record it.

  • Great, I can get it through iTunes or even the BBC website which offers their own player for broadcasting purposes.

  • He is indeed, Rog, showing himself to be more politically adept in the heat of campaigning than either of his counterparts in the two ‘main’ parties.

    I would recommend BBC Radio Four, if you can get it via online live streaming or on iTunes (I’ve never looked into it). The World Service would be a good source too, and possibly more accessible from America.

  • I hear that Nick Clegg is making quite a name for himself, Dreadful. BBC World News is my only source here (not too much coverege of the election in the American media). What BBC radio channel do you recommend? And like to listen to the debates; they usually have all programs available for a replay for a week at least. At least the classical BBC station does.

  • I’m no fan of Gordon Brown, Mark, but your “two trains of thought” are hardly a complete reflection of voter opinion or reality.

    Nevertheless, this may go down as the most spectacular political gaffe in recent memory. It makes Joe Biden look like the model of discretion. 🙂

  • Gordon Brown can name his memoirs (if the Persians don’t nuke Britain and he lives long enough to write them) An Open Mike is Far Worse Than an Open Fly – How I Kicked Myself Out of 10 Downing Street.