Gordon Brown takes on Paxman – a great performance from a man who should remain Prime Minister

What an absolutely supperb interview Gordon Brown has just given to Jeremy Paxman.  Forget the beauty parade  of the Leaders’ Debates.  This was Brown one on one with the Bruiser of the BBC, Paxman.

A word first about Paxman.  He has in recent years become too predictable, interupting, bullying and ridiculing his interviewees.  I have turned off Newsnight when he has been presenting.  There was less of that tonight, but when he did fall back into his bad ways, Brown coped well, focused and determined to make his points.  Brown was master of his brief, showing his true qualities, command of his brief, and his determination to manage the current economic crisis.

If you do nothing else before polling day, watch this interview on BBCi.

Brown did well in tonight’s debate. And that’s important for the country.

The third Leaders’ Debate has taken much the same form as the first two.  Nick Clegg still comes across as the best performer, reflecting the bounce he achieved in the first debate, although that bounce was not enhanced after the second debate. Clegg continued to be most self assured, looking straight int the camera.  It was a shame he joined the “don’t let anyone scare you” chorus.

David Cameron is no heavy weight.  He looked shallow with his attacks on Brown about “trying to frighten people”.  He backs the family, backs this and backs that.  He has a “great team”.  He offers a frsh government and a fresh start.  But he doesn’t say what that means.

This was Gordon Brown’s debat.  On the conomy he was a man amongst boys.  He has unparalled authority on the economy and on world affairs.  By comparison, Clegg looked weak.  He put himself forward as the leader to see the country through to the recovery.  Cameron lost it on inheritance tax while Brown scored big on fairness.

Brown’s was strong that there is too much at stake, that he is the one to fight for the future. When asked for detail Cameron had nothing to offer, nothing, and he got it wrong presentationally and politically. 

Cameron’s hidden politicies will benefit the rich and harm the poor, and that came across in the debate.  And finally, Brown was effective in linking some of the policies of the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Labour leave a lot to be desired, but Labour will be less terrible than a Tory / Lib Dem coalition.  Well done, Gordon Brown, you did well tonight, and that was important for the country.

A final thought.  Nick Robinson has just concluded on the BBC 10 O’Clock News that there were no winners in tonight’s debate. Given his anti-Labour bias, that must mean that Gordon Brown won!

Candidates and political leaders are under enormous pressure. We should give Gordon Brown a break and focus on the economy

What a silly storm in a tea-cup over Gordon Brown’s unfortunate comment calling Gillian Duffy a “bigot”.  He shouldn’t have said it, he acknowledges this, and has apologised.  But I for one have a huge amount of sympathy for Brown and, for that matter, all party leaders and all serious candidates.  They must all be under unbelievable pressure.  Brown in particular has copped so much criticism, personal abuse and character assassination.

All of us say things behind closed doors that we would not want repeated, let alone recorded and broadcast on every available outlet. 

But there are two issues far more important than an unfortunate error  by a man who must be exhausted and stressed beyond endurance. The first issue is about immigration.  Why on earth is the media broadcasting ignorant and inflammatory views from bigots who are saying that immigrants are taking all the jobs and houses.  The media have a responsibility to ensure that this incendiary issues is not allowed to stir up racial and other community tensions.

The second issue is the economy, particularly the collapse of the Greek economy.  Portugal will be next, then perhaps Spain, Italy and …. Britain?  Tomorrow night is the third Leaders’ Debate, and the theme is the economy.  This is what the debate in the media should be about, and this is the issue that should and may yet decide this election.  IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!!!

To the Greens, stand aside in Kemptown and Hove; Labour, please stand aside in Pavilion

An interesting comment has been left by Dr Faust regarding voting options and tactical voting in Brighton Kemptown, Brighton Pavilion and Hove.  I thought it worthy of repeating:

“In Kemptown and Hove/Portslade this is very straightforward – if you don’t want a Tory MP then vote Labour. If you want a Green MP content yourself with working in Pavilion and trying to elect Caroline.”

“In Pavilion the picture is more unclear. Three parties can clearly still win – and despite the best efforts of all three, it is not clear who is trailing behind. Some Labour supporters will also be anxious to not have a Green MP given the effect this could have on the next Council elections.”

“If people vote for what they believe in then we will probably have two Tory and one Green MP in the city, a Tory government, and an end to speculation about PR for the forseeable future. If people vote tactically we can have two/three Labour and/or, possibly one Green MP – a minotity government, a real chance of reform, and another election shortly down the road at which a new voting system might apply.”

“I can’t see why any Green supporter would prefer the first option.”

Thanks, Dr Faust.  Where I disagree with you is that I am certain that the Greens lead in Brighton Pavilion.  What has disappointed me over the last few days is the hostility that has developed between Labour and Green supporters.

I would plead to both sides, lay off each other.  You both have progressive candidates, particularly in Brighton Pavilion.  To the Greens I would say, stand aside in Brighton Kemptown and in Hove. To Labour, I am sorry to have to ask you to stand aside in Brighton Pavilion.  We must not let what Dr Faust has warned about, that we might end up with three Tory MPs.  Rather, lets elect two Labour MPs and one Green MP. 

Imagine what it would be like to wake up on 7th May with David Cameron as Prime Minister. Vote tactically to keep the Tories out.

The three polls published tonight have all three parties within 4 or 5 points of each other.  The Lib Dems ‘surge’ remains intact, Labour have settled a couple of ponts down, and the Tories about 5 points down. Converted into seats, Labour on 28 or 29 points, the Tories on 32 or 33 points, and the Lib Dems somewhere between, Labour would be the largest party in the new parliament.

The media seem obsessed about the hung or ‘balanced’ party.  Ed Balls tonight on Newsnight out-thugged Paxman, refusing to get drawn on a hung parliament.  Balls was right to say he wanted to talk about values and policies, the difference between Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories.

I refer back to the article by Johan Hari that I blogged about on April 11th.  This is an election about class.  To quote Hari: “(Cameron) will give a £1.2bn inheritance tax cut to the richest 2 per cent in Britain – with most going to the 3,000 wealthiest estates (including his wife’s). Then he promises to end the 50p top rate of tax, giving another £2.4bn to the richest 1 per cent. Then he has pledged to cut taxes on the pensions of the richest, handing another £3.2bn to the same 1 per cent. Then his marriage tax relief policies will give 13 times more to the rich than the poor”.

If you haven’t read the article, do so here.  Then think what it will be like to wake up on May 7th with David Cameron  as Prime Minister.  Think strategically and vote tactically.

History beckons the Greens in Brighton Pavilion. Don’t do anything risky, work hard, and you will make your historic breakthrough

As we enter the last full week of campaigning, and with just 10 days of campaigning left, here are some views about the campaign.  The last big event is the third and final Leader’s debate on Thursday.  The theme is the economy and this is Gordon Brown’s big opportunity.  Not only is this his strongest area, it is David Cameron’s weakest, and Nick Clegg is no Vince Cable.  Expect Gordon to come out of this debate stronger than the first two, and he recorded the best improvement between debates 1 and 2.  Nationally, anything can yet happen in this unpredictable election.  Tactical voting could yet decide certain results.  It is just a shame that Clegg is becoming so hostile to Brown.  His Tory origins are beginning to come through.

Locally, also on Thursday, is the debate at the church by the Fire Station.  Nancy Platts will hope that the fire fighters will be there to support her.  Her campaign regarding the fire station has been stronger than most local issues.  Charlotte Vere must be keenly looking forward to May 7th so that she can leave Brighton for the last time and seek a safe Tory seat in outer London.  She hasn’t done badly, but her campaign has never really gelled, and it is hard to see what she can do over the next 10 days to salvage things.  Her attacks on Caroline Lucas have proved counter-productive and she should have avoided name-checks to the front-runner.  If you attack, you must land a killer blow or else you look petty and partisan.

As for Caroline Lucas, she needs to continue to motivate her supporters.  The pressure will be on her and she needs to make sure she takes some time for herself, does not come across publicly or privately, as stressed.  She needs to continue to charm and show what a formidable alternative politician she is.  Her supporters need to redouble their efforts, but her campaign manager must ensure that she enjoys the next 10 days.  It is the Greens’ campaign to lose.  I can’t see Nancy or Charlotte landing that killer blow on her campaign.

History becons.  Don’t do anything risky, work hard, and the Greens will make their historic breakthrough.

Missed Opportunity on Politics Show by parties not fielding Caroline Lucas, Charlotte Vere or Nancy Platts

Politics Show with Ian Davey (Green; Hove), Simon Burgess (Labour; Brighton Kemptown), Henry Smith (Conservative; Crawley) and Norman Baker (Lib Dem; Lewes).  Davey hesitant and not that impressive, particularly on drugs and alcohol.  Simon Burgess quite assured.  Henry Smith smooth.  Norman Baker very competent.  Only men on the panel.  Big mistake by all 4 parties.  Good question from MothersInc.  Amusing observation that none of the panel are working mothers.

The SussexSquare (Geoffrey Bowden) asked question about Pride.  Debate around tolerance. Simon says “Norman is right”, not quite “I agree with Norman”!  Ian Davey got good plug in for Caroline Lucas at end of debate, but Caroline should have been there herself. A missed opportunity for Caroline, Nancy Platts and Charlotte Vere.

Dave Hill, aka Peter Stringfellow (what?) and David Essex (huh?) is a rare character in today’s politics

The Daddy of the Left in Brighton and Hove has shown that he has lost nothing of his ability for self-promotion. If you were to ask the TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate for Brighton Kemptown, Dave Hill, whethere his campaign was about policy or personalities, he would reply “policy”.

But look at this weekend’s Argus.  Front page – Dave Hill saying that he is being confused with Peter Stringfellow.  Photos of Mr Stringfellow appear alongside Mr Hill, sorry Professor Hill.  Dave, did someone really ask if you were PS or was it an inspired way of comanding the attention of the Argus in what is otherwise a completely dull campaign in Brighton Kemptown? 

But not content with this dubious comparison, Dave Hill says that as a younger man he used to be confused with David Essex.  What?  But fair play to him, on the inside of the Argus are more photos of Dave Hill, today and as a young man.

But what I did love was how the Argus presented Dave Hill as the main candidate, mentioning as an aside that the other candidates inclue Simon Burgess, etc.

What it does sho is the lack of ‘characters’ in politics today.  In the 1980s Dave Hill was forever creating stories, controversies and campaigns.  His equal was former councillor Brian Fitch.  More measured but equally effective was the late Dennis Hobden, and younger councillors like Steve (now Lord) Bassam, Richard Stanton and Andy Winter (who co-incidentally also appeared on the front page of the Argus today in a story about debt).

Now debt is an issue that Dave Hill could campaign on.

Next to Clegg, Cameron looks tired & bland; Clegg by Brown looks lightweight. Bruiser Brown wins on points

Here are some of my immediate reactions to tonights Leaders’ Debate.

Gordon Brown was in his element, the Leader with experience on the world stage and the policy anorak. He was calm, firm, authoratative. But twice he didn’t carry it off: his “get real, Nick” comment.  He doesn’t do macho at all well.  The other was his demand to know why commitments to the elderly wasn’t in the Tory manifesto. Cameron was able to give the commitments straight into the camera. Stick to your own policies, Gordon, with the occassional “there is too much to lose / at risk”.

Brown on the economy was impressive.  Clegg needs Vince Cable alongside him.

But his defence of Trident through his attack on Clegg was a huge, huge mistake.

“The buck stops with me” ending was excellent but not the attack on Clegg’s Trident stance.

Clegg was not so assured this week.  High expectations but came across a bit ‘samey’.  Did not compare that well against the heavy-weight Gordon Brown. Clegg was strongest on immigration. Landed blow on Brown when saying you can’t deport 900,000 people – “You don’t know where they live!”.  His demand to know the target figure from Cameron showed up Cameron who could only say “You’re better off under the Conservatives”.

Cameron was strongest when giving assurnce that the Tories will retain the winter fueld paymnt, free tv licences, free bus passes, fre eye tests.  His accusation of Labour “lies” hit home.  Question is, can you believe that this will be the case when they ‘discover the reall state of the countries finances’?

Cameron’s “don’t scare people in a general election” was a bit over-rehearsed.  Generally, he looked tired, and  lacked sparkle.

Cameron’s ending weak – Labour trying to scare voters.  Clegg’s “We can lead the world” a good vision. Glad there was no “We can make Britain great again”.

Alongside Clegg, Cameron looks tired and bland; Clegg alongside Brown looks lightweight. Bruiser Brown wins on points, but Clegg hasn’t done his cause any harm..

There’s more to this election that just Brighton Pavilion. Tactical voting remains so important

I am in danger of presenting the general election as being about just one campaign – that in Brighton Pavilion.  In fact Roy Greenslade, a titan of the newspaper industry (and I do mean that sincerely) almost suggested that when he said on the Guardian’s Greenslade Blog, that this was “a lively blog where the left-of-centre author appears to be enthused by the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

In Hove, it is looking increasingly likely that there will be a Tory win, although Celia Barlow pulled off one of the most amazing results last time by holding the seat.  Greens are suggesting that it is a lost cause for Labour so anti-Tories can vote according to their preference.   Don’t vote Green in Hove, not in this election.  Wait until the Greens have developed their base beyond the solitary but high profile and impressive Alex Phillips.

In Brighton Kemptown Green Ben Duncan is putting up a bit of a show, but he will come nowhere near ousing the anti-Tory challenge of Simon Burgess.  Again, don’t vote Green this time around in Kemptown.  Vote tactically for Simon Burgess.

So in Brighton and Hove, I am advocating tactical voting for Labour in Brighton Kemptown and in Hove, and definitely a tactical vote and a principled vote for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion.

In Hastings in Rye I have always been impressed by the work ethic of Michael Foster who is defending the seat against the Tory, Amber Rudd.  Please give a tactical vote for Labour in Hastings.  Michael may not set the world on fire, but he has been an excellent MP.

In Lewes it has to be the Liberal Democrat, Stormin’ Norman Baker.  If Mandelson is to New Labour what Portillo was to the last Tory Government, then the re-election of Norman Baker will be the worst thing possible for Mandelson.

Finally, the election in Eastbourne is turning nasty where sitting Tory MP Nigel Watersons in real danger of losing to the Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd.  All Labour and Green supporters must vote Lib Dem in Eastbourne.  If Stephen wins, it won’t be the last we will hear of Waterson – he has already threatened to see Lloyd in Court over an election leaflet.  Who would have thought it, nasty politics in Eastbourne.