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.
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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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