Blair or Brown as Prime Minister?

Huzzah! fresh comment from Boris in the Daily Telegraph today


What we are being offered is no longer Prime Minister Blair, but the Blair-Brown axis

…there is a widespread desire to turn Britain into a No-Smirking Zone

Who is Labour’s man, Blair or Brown?

In the course of a largely inglorious 1997 election campaign, I had one moment of canvassing magic. After weeks of hesitation, my team of crack Tory troops finally decided to mount an operation in Rhosllanerchrugog, an old mining village in Clwyd South, the seat I was then contesting.

Rhos, as it was known for short, had an awesome reputation among the Conservatives of that region. The few scouts who returned reported that it was full of savage anti-Tories. So bitter were local feelings about Conservative policies towards Welsh mining villages, I was told, that it was doubtful there was a single Tory in the place. The view was that we would be lucky to get out in one piece.

So we canvassed in more promising areas until one morning, not long before polling day, there was nothing for it. After a certain amount of deep breathing, we poured out of the battle wagon in the heart of Rhos and began to work the streets.

It would be fair to say that we had a pretty cool reception. One man offered half-heartedly to “brick” me, and everyone else declined, with varying degrees of asperity, our invitation to vote Tory, until I saw a young woman pushing a buggy up the street.

“Hello!” I cried, in the approved Central Office manner, thrusting out my hand. “I wonder whether I can count on your vote?”

The poor woman looked tired. She was wearing tight jeans and white socks, and I had that panicky feeling that her baby was about to cry. She pulled her cigarette out and screwed up her eyes. “Which party did you say you were from?” she said.

“I’m the Conservative candidate,” I said; and at once it was as if the sun had come out. She beamed at me. “Oooh!” she said. “The Conservatives! Yes, I’ll definitely be voting for you. Count on me!”

I was stunned, and in my confusion, I did what good canvassers should never do in this situation. “B-but why?” I asked. “Oh well,” she said. “You’d never catch me voting for that John Major and his Labour Party!”

Thinking fast, I withdrew the leaflet I was about to give her, featuring a picture of John Major, gave her some more general Conservative advertisement, and I still believe, with the help of that innocent semi-deception, that we secured that woman’s vote on the day.

I mention this because today, after a long period of Labour government, there must be thousands of Labour candidates and canvassers flogging the streets of Britain who wish they could do the same with their own party leader; who wish they could quietly banish Tony Blair from their party literature.

Everyone who has been out canvassing in the past few days will know what I mean: that sudden sense of weariness, irritation with Blair, sometimes bordering on hatred, that spills from the mouths of people who hoped for so much. There is a fed-upness, a lack of trust, an unwillingness to buy his act, and a widespread desire to turn Britain into a No-Smirking Zone.

You can tell the Labour people have clocked the problem, because they have entirely changed the way the party is presented. It has gone, that Blair chipmunk grin, axed from the manifesto; it has been wiped from most of the Labour bumf; and Blair himself – once seen as the consummate televisual operator – is no longer trusted to do a party political broadcast on his own.

Oh no: Labour has ceased to be a monarchy, or a presidency. It is a partnership, and Gordon has been brought in to rescue the show. It’s Brair; it’s Blown, and in this partnership Brown is wearing the trousers. Brown sets the agenda, and his creature, Balls, spouts off about how Labour will sort out the mess it has made of pensions, while poor Milburn – Blair’s creature – is shoved to the back of the press conference.

What we are being offered is no longer Prime Minister Blair, but the Blair-Brown axis, and it should be said at once that this is a monumental fraud on the electorate. We are being asked to vote for Blair, with the subliminal reassurance that he will at some stage step aside and make way for the older man.

It is an outrageous deceit, not just because Brown is a high-taxing, interfering, over-regulating zealot, but also because he is a Scot. We are being asked to vote for Blair when it is highly likely that in the course of the next few years (in the event of a Labour victory) the party machine would create a Scottish prime minister to lord it over England, at a time of gross constitutional inequality between England and Scotland.

It is infamous that I, as an English MP, can be outvoted in very controversial questions by Scottish MPs, when I have no corresponding say over those questions in Scotland, and when those Scottish MPs themselves have no say over those questions insofar as they affect their own constituents.

It is unthinkable that we could have, in these circumstances, a prime minister who sits for Dumfermline; but that is exactly what Labour is proposing, and it is a scandal. We know some things for certain about this proposed Blair-Brown partnership. We know that it will mean higher taxes – much higher, says the IMF – whereas the Tories are actually pledged to cut tax by £4 billion. We know that it will be a continuation of Brownian economics, by which 850,000 jobs have been created in the public sector and a million lost in manufacturing. We know from the Labour manifesto that the pair of them have run out of ideas. There is just one question they won’t answer, and we should keep asking it until they are straight with the public, because it is the hole at the heart of their prospectus. Who is your candidate to be prime minister? Blair or Brown? It can’t be both and it’s time we were told.

25 thoughts on “Blair or Brown as Prime Minister?”

  1. What point are you making here, old chap?
    Yes, Labour are wisely removing Tone from the spotlight, because everyone is heartily sick of him, but will you be keen to thrust your campaign literature with pictures of Michaellllll Howard at passing pedestrians? I doubt it, unless you are trying to scare them into voting Tory. If you do intend to promote the gruesome visage, please warn people – they will want to keep their children indoors.

  2. Don’t worry..Michael Howard isn’t thinking what you’re thinking..

  3. Good one Richard!

    Michael Howard could be thinking what a lot of us might be tho’…..hmmmmm

  4. Boris, as always, makes some good (and more importantly witty) points. Many of them seem to have been made here, which is gratifying. But the Blair/Brown thing is irrelevant. The retort is too simple. “Thatcher/Major”. One reason the Tories are still in the wildnerness (although civilisation is in distant view at last) is that the public resented THEIR choice of PM (as they saw it) being replaced by the “men in grey suits” with one of their own.

    We don’t have a Presidential system and of course ruling parties can change their leaders, with all that entails. But the voters don’t get it. They think they elect the PM and that is what matters. Thatcher’s national constituency was the right wing working class and it is interesting that the polls show them coming back home at last – whether enough of them to swing it remains to be seen.

    Much as I despise Blown and Brair (and I defer to none in that, the Statist creeps that they are) they have been honest on this topic and entirely fair to the electorate in this one respect.

    I wish Brown led them now. The only difference between Old and New Labour is Tony Blair’s charisma and near-fascist contempt for civil liberties.

    Roll on the Scottish Raj and the resultant English uprising. It will make the Indian Mutiny look like a vicar’s tea party.

  5. I saw the news on satellite today. Blair was grey around the temples.

    It’s a measure of his current image that I had to ask myself, “Has he gone grey or has he added dye to make himself look more mature and statesmanlike?”

    Can’t believe him any more. Would you buy a 2nd hand car off Tony Bliar?

  6. Talking of which I saw this very cunnning billboard satirising the Tory Party. It had Howard on it (I think) and the words “It’s not racist to be concerned about immigration. Are you thinking what I’m thinking”. I thought, yeah right, it’s not racist to wear a hood over your head, nudge nudge. This was in the multicultural area of Sarf Croyden, and people were pointing at it and laughing. Fortunately someone from Central Office must have spotted it and had it taken down because a week later it was gone.

  7. I live in East Devon where the conservatives could put “Attila The Hun” as the candidate and he would be returned. I quite like Mr Letwin, which should be a much more interesting contest, in West Dorset.
    Its very boring living in a safe seat for any party.

  8. “I quite like Mr Letwin”. Another indication that I have tumbled into some parallel universe where the words are all the same, but they are put together in a very bizarre way.

  9. Boris, can you keep banging on about a load of Scots down here in Westminster Lording it over the English,and carpetbagging the English taxpayer to boot. its just ghastly!!!!!

  10. The Westminster Parliament is the Parliament for the United Kingdom, and as such is utterly irrelevant what part of it the Prime Minister and his/her advisers come from.

    The question of whether we should have a separate English parliament for matters which don’t affect the country as a whole is entirely separate. If your lot weren’t so busy resisting every effort that’s so far been made towards regional devolution, we’d be a lot closer to it as well. English patriotism? Don’t make me laugh. *You’re* the lot that emasculated local power in the first place. Do you think we’re stupid?

  11. I like you Boris. I really do, and I think you should hold a senior position in the Tory party because more people would vote Tory if you did. Why? Well, although you wouldn’t think so, I believe you have a lot in common with John Prescott. Obviously nobody would want John Prescott to be the Prime Minister or possess enough power to actually do anything that might make a difference. He exists in the party for effect and so should you because politics need individuals like you and John to keep a human aspect.

    Another reason why I like you and John Prescott is I have to deliver speeches and presentations. If I get nervous before delivering a speech I just think of you guys and remind myself that no matter how bad my speech will be it’s bound to be better than you guys and there will not be any TV cameras to record it.

    Obviously you and John come from opposite ends of the political and social spectrum. But at the same time I could imagine John making inflammatory comments about Liverpudlians(True, but inflammatory)and I would like to imagine that if some prat with a mullet threw an egg at you from two feet away you would give him a thump.

    Unfortunately there are no interesting characters in the Tory party other than you that I know of and nobody can argue that Michael Howard brings the human touch (he might not actually be human).

    I have never voted Tory, but if you were running in my ward I would vote for you because you are real. Unfortunately it looks like I will have to vote for Ruth Kelly again (Bolton West is where I live). Is she human? I thought she was. I thought she was gay, but I read that she is married with four children. I have to say I still suspect that she is gay and I bet you do too.

    Anyway, Blair or Brown? I would rather vote for Brown than Blair and I’m going to vote for Blair because that means Brown will eventually be the Prime Minister, Jock or not. Unless of course it turns out to be John Prescott!

    You never know, Blair’s heart problem might get worse and he might die mid term, then John Prescott will be Prime Minister. If that happened you would have to be the leader of the opposition and politics really would be fun!


    Michael Buckley

  12. A scottish M P as prime minister? What just like dear old Sir Alec Douglas Hume who nearly snatched victory in 1964.
    Oh I forget that’s about the time ABJ was born.
    As Scotland has lost 12 MPs this time around things are more equal.
    What about A J Blair and Micharel Ancram both Scots both standing for ENGLISH constituencies?
    Where will smallminded-ness end?

    Meanwhile Democracy needs all of our talents not some home counties apartheidt.This country is crap because of small minded little people thinking they need to be protected from incomers .

    As We will find more and more these petty miserable unenlightened attitudes will leads us nowhere.

  13. Boris: “. . . we could have . . . a prime minister who sits for Dumfermline”

    An old song goes “The King sits in Dunfermline Town”, but Brown is actually standing for Kirkcaldy (pronounced Kirkoddy) & Cowdenbeath.

    The Scottish seats now have incredibly long names. A deliberate ploy to create maximum confusion among English MPs.

    Imagine in the course of a Commons debate mixing up Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East’. ‘Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey’ or ‘Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale’ ! And there is one in Gaelic: ‘Na h-Eileanan An Iar’.

    “My Honourable friend the member of Inverness, Dumfriesshire & Kirkintilloch East . . I mean Inverness, Badenoch, and Kilsyth . . . I’m sorry I think it’s Nairn, Cumbernauld, & Kirkintilloch West . . . maybe I should spell it out. . .”

  14. Boris “It is infamous that I, as an English MP, can be outvoted in very controversial questions by Scottish MPs, when I have no corresponding say over those questions in Scotland . . .”

    True, but it is also infamous that many issues of importance to Scotland are controlled from London, for example North Sea fishing and oil revenues, not to mention defence, foreign affairs, relations with Europe etc. (The present constitutional arrangements are illogical and unfair to both sides.)

    So – is it possible that the Conservatives will now support constitutional reform?

    Will you support an English Parliament?

  15. ‘I live in East Devon where the conservatives could put “Attila The Hun” as the candidate and he would be returned.’

    I just hope that up in Totness that they do not let those rotten UKIP GIMPS in. I’ve never heard such a phoney bunch of anti-democratic losers in my life. They want to take the right away from me to vote in europe. And after they role back that part of our democacy how long will it be before I lose the right to return an MP to the House Of Commons? Not long I bet you! I hope voters will stand up in this election and say no to the far-right as represented by Rodger Knapman – a devil in a grey suit.

  16. And then what happens when the press call out in the name of injustice. One can be sure that UKIP will then try to remove the freedom of the press.

  17. Good lord, you’re playing the race card? You’re complaining about Brown’s place of birth? Are you suggesting that only people born in England should be able to stand in England, and correspondingly Welsh in Wales and so on? That’s a little hypocritical for someone who admits he stood for a Welsh seat.

    As Simon says will you support devolution for every region, full devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where Downing Street cannot control matters in those regions, in return for those regions not returning to Westminster? That’s the only real solution to your complaint.

  18. I agree… indeed I think the Tories should go one step further and promise to permit the Scots to enact outright devolution and cede from the U.K…..thereby resolving the West Lothian question once and for all and going some way towards a slight improvement in the current overwhelming imbalance in votes needed per Labour MP v. Tory MP

  19. We’re between the devil and the deep blue sea. The constantly smirking, grinning, Blair and Brown: a man with all the charisma of a sun dried cow-pat.

  20. One small difference between a sun dried cow pat and the B Liar: the cow pat can usefully be employed as follows:
    1)Fuel for open fires
    2)To make the earth more fruitful.
    He , on the other hand , is neither use, nor , especially lately, ornament.

  21. As an Oxfordshire country boy, I’m collecting all the sun-dried cowpats I can, to dump on Brown’s doorstep at 11 Downing Street. He can then prudently take them back to Scotland in his carpetbag to save him depleting the Peat reserves in his own back yard. He might even zap liar Blair with one: that would pretty soon take the grin off his next door neighbour’s face!

  22. Very interesting website Boris and a thoroughly enjoyable read! But unfortunately, as much as the British public do not want to vote for the Blair/Brown axis they still will. Why? Because there is no alternative!

    The Tories are to blame for three terms of Blair rule. Instead of voting Howard, Iain Duncan Smith and the fool before him (I can’t even remember his name), they should have voted with their heads and appointed Heseltine (and later Ken Clarke). While New Labour had the sense to go to the centre ground with Blair, the Tories foolishly went to the right and have lost out on 2 very winnable elections because of it!!!

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