Right Dishonourable Members: Will the last minister to leave, please turn off the lights

By DeusExMacintosh


James Purnell the work and pensions secretary, last night dealt a monumental blow to Gordon Brown’s chances of holding onto office when he dramatically announced he was quitting the cabinet and asking Brown “to stand aside to give Labour a fighting chance of winning the next election”.

His statement, in effect declaring Brown unelectable, will further weaken the prime minister’s waning authority and takes the challenge to his leadership to a dangerous level.

Purnell made his sensational move after polls closed in the local and European elections – in which Labour was subsequently decimated across the board, informing Brown by phone last night. It prompted a furious reaction in Number 10 with ministers saying Purnell was profoundly mistaken.

Brown had no inkling that Purnell was going to quit, since the work and pensions secretary shrouded his move in secrecy in order to prevent No 10 mounting a pre-emptive strike against him, or seeking to challenge his motives…

No 10 said it was disappointed Purnell had chosen to tell newspapers before telling the leader of the Labour party.

The Guardian


  1. John Greenfield
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink


    I’m glad you posted this, otherwise I would have had to make an OT request of SL.


    Are you studying EU Law as part of your BCL? If so, and even if not, I’d be really interested to read a thread by you on Frank Furedi’s argument that

    EU oligarchs help far right propser: Secretive decision-making in Brussels has alienated voters in today’s poll


    His description of the EU’s byzantine law-making runs the same shivers down my spine as does the prospect of a legislative Charter of Human Rights in Australia.

  2. Posted June 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s juts a career path. They go- get elected, stay elected, rort all you can, get the pension… and then bugger off to a cushy consultancy where you get bulk shareholder’s money for playing golf and schmoozing with other parasites all day long.

    It needs to be fought both in the private sector and public sector. This silly buggers with other peoples’ money is just wicked.

    Perhaps we should start approaching all candidates and ask them to take a brain scan for sociopathology. Don’t have to of course. Wouldn’t force it on ’em.

    But why wouldn’t you want to take it Wayne?

  3. Posted June 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s time to boot the Labour Party. They’ve been in there too long. And they need to do a little soul searching and ask hard questions like: How did we make a Psycho Gargoyle like Tony Blair the PM of this country.

    And speaking of Tony I think he needs a bit of this.

  4. Posted June 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure they’re up to the hard questions Adrien.

    On the eve of the European and local elections last week, Tony Benn was interviewed on the evening news where he argued that Labour shouldn’t be held responsible for the mess the country was in. This is because Tony Blair was actually a Tory, so the whole mess is still really Margaret Thatcher’s fault!

    Yep, after more than a decade of Labour in power, it’s still the fault of a conservative leader who stood down back in 1990.

  5. Posted June 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Feminists used to tell me at Uni that Margaret Thatcher was actually a man. 🙂 Semantic gymnastics a fantastic way to avoid responsibility, reality and have a chance to begin again.

  6. Posted June 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    JG, I’m not surprised by that article, although I haven’t seen the results from the UK for the latest EU poll. I have to admit I didn’t vote, which is symptomatic of wider political apathy, even in Oxford. I don’t actually know anyone who DID vote from among my friends in college, so there you have it.

    I do know in the past that the BNP has prospered in EU elections, as have other less extreme anti-EU parties, like UKIP. The system is correctly described as Byzantine, in that people have no sense of what their vote is going towards. The sense that one is voting in a vacuum is widespread everywhere these days, but it’s even commoner when it comes to the EU elections.

  7. John Greenfield
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Is the EU as legislative/politically powerful as I fear?

  8. conrad
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    “Is the EU as legislative/politically powerful as I fear?”
    Being in France right now, I just asked some of my French friends that, and the quick answer to that appears to be “yes”, although they seem to think the average voter doesn’t quite understand that, which is why the average voter didn’t vote yesterday.

  9. John Greenfield
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink


    But a lot of far right did. Even the BNP picked up two seats.


    It seems the biggest losers were The Luvvies. Are there actually many Far Leftists still alive?


  10. conrad
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    “It seems the biggest losers were The Luvvies”
    That’s not true — the biggest winners were the greens (Ecologie). You can check out all the patterns in different countries on Lemonde’s website pretty easily.

  11. John Greenfield
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink


    You could be right. My understanding of the British and European Greens is non-existent. In the UK, The Greens increased their vote from 6% to 8.7%, but that is still only 2 seats, the same as the BNP. That Green gain is more than wiped out by Labour’s 7% decline and 1% for the LD. So at least for the UK, I still think The Luvvies lost hugely.

    On the continent, the picture is more complicated. (DUH!!!!). Europe-wide (including the UK), the Greens – and allies – still only got 7% of the seats. I don’t know what they had before.

    The Christian Democrats got 36% and the Socialists 22%. Again, I don’t whether these last two groups experienced gains or losses. I’ll do some digging.

    But The Guardian’s headline is pretty blunt!

    Europe’s mainstream centre-left parties suffered humiliation last night when voting in the EU’s biggest-ever election concluded with disastrous results for social democrats


  12. John Greenfield
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Sort of] good news in the Lebanon elections as well. Out of 128 parliamentary seats, the anti-Syrian/pro-west coalition won 68/128 seats (53%), while Hizbollah won 57/128, which is still 45% of the parliament, which strikes me as scarily high.

    How united are these 68 pro-western parliamentarians; or are they like an Italian ‘coalition’? And does anybody know how many seats Hizbollah had before the election.

    The Lebanese government actually paid for the airfares of Lebanese citizens living abroad in places like Australia, Canada, the US, and UK, coz they can only vote in Lebanon itself.

    Now that I’m at the end of the post, the Lebanese results don’t look too good at all!

  13. conrad
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I think a number of fringe groups increased their performance — although I think the Greens are really the ones likely to stay on for the long term (they’re very well entrenched — and the main way you get rid of them in some places is to assimilate them, which they should really take as a victory). It will be interesting to see how the far-right groups go — my suspicion is they have pretty much peaked and will decay as the Euro economy picks up again.
    Actually, it seems that this is a problem of voluntary voting — it’s the mainstream that gets sick of voting, not the fringe groups, so fringe groups get disproportionately represented when people can’t be bothered voting.

  14. Posted June 10, 2009 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    It’s been my observation that the more extreme parties such as the BNP only tend to do well electorally when the local reps of mainstream parties have been caught in a corruption scandal (rigging postal voting, taking kickbacks etc). This is the first time that entire national parties have been implicated in a financial scandal – though applying “corruption” to expenses abuse is a bit harder than say, cash for questions (in the house)/or influence (in the lords). Personally I’m still following the fallout with great fascination.

    Despite all the moral panic spouted by the media and the chattering classes, it wouldn’t actually worry me if the British National Party had picked up a load of seats (which they didn’t – just 2 MEPs out of 87 in the UK and a handful in local government). Their leader and new MEP just got egged during a news conference outside of parliament which I heartily condemn. You don’t like his politics, fine, but he’s the democratically elected representative of a constitutency so he’s not only go the right to talk he is obligated to do so.

    Tony Blair was able to not just represent, but assume the leadership of the Labour Party without necessarily accepting Clause 4. In the same way it is entirely possible to support and vote for the BNP without necessarily accepting the “indigenous” restriction membership (which seems to be new as I’m sure I read somewhere that they had an asian candidate at one stage and I don’t see how that could be legally supportable because of anti-discrimination legislation).

    What their success could actually indicate is that Britain has a developing class problem rather than any rise in racism. The BNP is picking up mostly traditional white working-class Labour supporters who now feel that the party better represents the interests of the City of London and foreign billionaires than their own.

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  1. […] rolls, Labour appointed a fresh new Work and Pensions Minister to handle the changeover – James Purnell. He placed the final cherry on top of the whole propaganda sundae by telling The Guardian… […]

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