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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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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