What's on the PM's mind?

The cosy-up between Brown and Thatcher gets a mixed response from political bloggers as some ask if

As news broke this week that Margaret Thatcher was returning to Downing Street to take tea with the present incumbent, Benedict
Brogan
wondered – in the light of Gordon Brown’s recent appointments – whether there was an ulterior motive: "Mr Brown has already riled the Tories by claiming that he – and not David Cameron – is a conviction politician of the Iron Lady mold. Might he go one step further today and find a task force for her to chair?"

While, The
Huntsman
wondered if the meeting of minds was not for a simpler reason: "Perhaps he is asking what he should do with those pesky unions as he faces his very own ‘Winter of Discontent’."

The cosying-up of Thatcher and Brown was seen by some on the Right as a rallying call to a damning indictment of Cameron. Many on the left saw it as a betrayal of Old Labour by Brown, but Snowflake5
was more philosophical: "Some in Labour will raise eyebrows at this, given the hurt she inflicted on the country in the early 80s. But we’re comfortably in power now, and vengeance isn’t part of the Labour character.

"We can afford to be magnanimous and kind to a very old lady who is clearly still upset at events of the past."

In an interesting analysis of the political tactics at the heart of the meeting between the two "conviction politicians", Dizzy
Thinks
began: "The master strategist and tactician Brown does it again and has turned the lady who was not for turning they say. Brown has played Cameron for the pygmy chump that he is."

But concluded: "Gordon Brown may very well be a master strategist and tactician, but yesterday his ego and overriding desire to destabilise Cameron exposed his flank, and a superior master of the game exploited it savagely."

In a two-pronged attack on the Conservatives on the day they launched the Blueprint for a Green Economy, Labour announced they would be hiring Saatchi & Saatchi (of "Labour isn’t working" fame) for their election campaign.

href="http://www.order-order.com/2007/09/saatchi-saatchi-win-labour-advertisin...">Guido
Fawkes saw the move as a cynical reaction to the perception of modern
politics: “The Times reports Populus research which shows that Brown is perceived by voters to have moved to the right and Cameron’s Conservatives are perceived to have moved to the left. So with increasingly little difference between the brands, it may all come down to marketing.”

Meanwhile, Will
Howells
has suggested a couple of failed Saatchi & Saatchi campaigns which may have been taken to LDHQ (“Not merciless, just Ming”) and CCHQ (“Not anything really. Just Dave”).

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

In the race to be France's next president, keep an eye on Arnaud Montebourg

Today's Morning Call. 

Good morning. As far as the Brexit talks are concerned, the least important voters are here in Britain. Whether UK plc gets a decent Brexit deal depends a lot more on who occupies the big jobs across Europe, and how stable they feel in doing so.

The far-right Freedom Party in Austria may have been repudiated at the presidential level but they still retain an interest in the legislative elections (due to be held by 2018). Both Lega Nord and Five Star in Italy will hope to emerge as the governing party at the next Italian election.

Some Conservative MPs are hoping for a clean sweep for the Eurosceptic right, the better to bring the whole EU down, while others believe that the more vulnerable the EU is, the better a deal Britain will get. The reality is that a European Union fearing it is in an advanced state of decay will be less inclined, not more, to give Britain a good deal. The stronger the EU is, the better for Brexit Britain, because the less attractive the exit door looks, the less of an incentive to make an example of the UK among the EU27.

That’s one of the many forces at work in next year’s French presidential election, which yesterday saw the entry of Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, into the race to be the Socialist Party’s candidate.

Though his star has fallen somewhat among the general public from the days when his opposition to halal supermarkets as mayor of Evry, and his anti-Roma statements as interior minister made him one of the most popular politicians in France, a Valls candidacy, while unlikely to translate to a finish in the top two for the Socialists could peel votes away from Marine Le Pen, potentially allowing Emanuel Macron to sneak into second place.

But it’s an open question whether he will get that far. The name to remember is Arnaud Montebourg, the former minister who quit Francois Hollande’s government over its right turn in 2014. Although as  Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reports, analysts believe the Socialist party rank-and-file has moved right since Valls finished fifth out of sixth in the last primary, Montebourg’s appeal to the party’s left flank gives him a strong chance.

Does that mean it’s time to pop the champagne on the French right? Monteburg may be able to take some votes from the leftist independent, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and might do some indirect damage to the French Thatcherite Francois Fillon. His supporters will hope that his leftist economics will peel away supporters of Le Pen, too.

One thing is certain, however: while the chances of a final run-off between Le Pen and Fillon are still high,  Hollande’s resignation means that it is no longer certain that the centre and the left will not make it to that final round.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

The government began its case at the Supreme Court yesterday, telling justices that the creation of the European Communities Act, which incorporates the European treaties into British law automatically, was designed not to create rights but to expedite the implementation of treaties, created through prerogative power. The government is arguing that Parliament, through silence, has accepted that all areas not defined as within its scope as prerogative powers. David Allen Green gives his verdict over at the FT.

MO’MENTUM, MO’PROBLEMS

The continuing acrimony in Momentum has once again burst out into the open after a fractious meeting to set the organisation’s rules and procedures, Jim Waterson reports over at BuzzFeed.  Jon Lansman, the organisation’s founder, still owns the data and has the ability to shut down the entire group, should he chose to do so, something he is being urged to do by allies. I explain the origins of the crisis here.

STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE  BEFORE

Italy’s oldest bank, Monte Paschi, may need a state bailout after its recapitalisation plan was thrown into doubt following Matteo Renzi’s resignation. Italy’s nervous bankers will wait to see if  €1bn of funds from a Qatari investment grouping will be forthcoming now that Renzi has left the scene.

BOOM BOOM

Strong growth in the services sector puts Britain on course to be the highest growing economy in the G7. But Mark Carney has warned that the “lost decade” of wage growth and the unease from the losers from globalisation must be tackled to head off the growing tide of “isolation and detachment”.

THE REPLACEMENTS

David Lidington will stand in for Theresa May, who is abroad, this week at Prime Ministers’ Questions. Emily Thornberry will stand in for Jeremy Corbyn.

QUIT PICKING ON ME!

Boris Johnson has asked Theresa May to get her speechwriters and other ministers to stop making jokes at his expense, Sam Coates reports in the Times. The gags are hurting Britain’s diplomatic standing, the Foreign Secretary argues.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas! And to help you on your way, here’s Anna’s top 10 recommendations for Christmassy soundtracks.

MUST READS

Ian Hislop on the age of outrage

The lesson of 2016: identity matters, even for white people, says Helen

Why I’m concerned about people’s “very real concerns” on migration

Get Morning Call in your inbox every weekday – click here to sign up.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.