Monday, June 08, 2009

Gordon Brown’s fight back starts in the heart of Labour

Yesterday I had been intending to go to straight to the start of the Newham Euro-election count for the 3pm start. To my surprise on Saturday afternoon I was telephoned and invited to attend a “meeting” in the old Town Hall, Stratford starting at 3pm to be addressed by a “VIP speaker.

We all know what that means. So on Sunday there were a large number of mostly Newham Labour Party activists waiting outside the Old Town Hall to get in with press and TV in attendance.

The Old Town Hall is a historic Labour movement site. It was on the balcony above all of us waiting outside to get in that Keir Hardie made his victory speech following his election in 1892 as the first ever Labour MP. West Ham has been a Labour stronghold pretty much ever since.

Once we got in there was standing room only inside the actual meeting room and I guess there were about 125 people in total. Nearly everyone was in their “Sunday best” and people generally I thought were a little nervous beforehand and unsure about what was happening.

Harriot Harman and Peter Mandelson walked in and took their seats on the stage to applause. Prime Minister Gordon Brown came in after a short warm up speech by Harman.

Gordon then gave a relaxed, confident, humourous and very personal speech. Listening to him you would not believe that he is under the pressure he must be under. He gave the impression of being on a “Walk in the Park” or what! To my surprise the Q&A afterwards also went really well, I mean utterly positive and supportive. I will admit that I thought that someone would in fact stick the knife in. But no – nothing but supportive comments, and the most pointed contribution I thought was from a Southwark activist (I didn’t catch his name) who reminded the parliamentary Labour Party that they are only a part of the party and that activists don’t necessarily share their obsessions for a leadership change.


Charlie Marks said...

But I assume activists are concerned about policy... For example - LDV's going overseas. Will they let Vauxhall follow?

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie

Yes they do - but as pointed out elsewhere I don't think this is all about policies. No-one (apart from the McNoHopers) are attacking Brown over his policies. It is whether or not his leadership will win the next election.

Anonymous said...

John I am no fan of John in recent years
but him and Cruddas unlike the undisaplined Blairites (step down Hazel who lost us 100 councillors)

they have not gone around the TV studeos demanding Brown stands down

I think we should demand reselection in Mitcham & Morden MacDonagh does not represent us and we hate indisapline

and Hazel (the flipper) like Gibson needs to be told shes not standing

Hazel has a lot to answer for, if i was a hard working Labour councillor defeated on Thursday I would be hold Hazel at least partly respnsible

Rock the boat ???!!!!!
your boat is sunk Hazel

ModernityBlog said...

Unless New Labour reaches out, back to the working classes, drops privatisations, post office closure, sucking up to Alan Sugar, stops the New Deal nonsense and makes a real attempt at decent social housing then they'll be completely ****ed in the next General Election.

Brown is political dead meat.

Jesmi said...

Good to know that with all of this going on that Cabinet members think that going on holiday is more important than sorting out the shambles this country and their political party is in. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Errm, just wondering how the 'activists' were selected for this meeting...?

But, seriously, of course it's very much about policies... the wrong policies in some respects. New Labour is finished as a project, but half the cabinet hasn't quite realised.

John Gray said...


Sorry this is late - I am trying to clear my inbox - but the activists were not screened and there was plenty of opportunity to ask awkward questions but no-one did because Brown did come over very well.