Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Wins On Points In Meaty Clash

In one of the most meaty presidential debates ever seen on TV, presentation and policies dominated the contest, with Obama scoring well on domestic issues and McCain on foreign policy. Professional pragmatism versus smooth-talking idealism and McCain won on points. 

The media is already spinning away to contact and convince voters that their man won but away from the biased reporting, the consensus seems to be that McCain had the edge. 

It's all a far cry from the time when stubble-faced Nixon sweated it out with cool kid Kennedy. Now the US is facing the biggest economic meltdown since the 1930s while fighting two wars. Voters are worried about their homes and jobs. Paranoia about global Islamic terrorism takes centre stage. 

Obama came across as just too rehearsed. McCain was right at home with a folksy style, talking about foreign policy. Several times Obama seemed to agree with McCain.

Obama constantly looked back, blaming Bush and McCain for everything that’s ever been wrong in the world.

McCain will not convince the die-hard Obama supporters but he held his ground and that’s what the American people are looking for.

He was cool, informed and forceful. In these hard times voters just want a strong commander-in-chief and a trusted hand on the economic tiller. 

Where Obama did score better was on the domestic front, where he tried  to link McCain to Bush's  failed "economic philosophy". 

But Obama did little to convince voters that he’s experienced enough to handle foreign affairs and defence.  

Political bloggers are having a field day but in the Main stream media it's hard to get an unbiased opinion. Perhaps only the Wall Street Journal can be relied on, noting that both won in their comfort zones:

"The first Presidential debate last night was notable for playing to type. Neither candidate broke from talking points, neither one made a gaffe, and both men won on the grounds where they are most comfortable -- John McCain on foreign policy, and Barack Obama on domestic issues."

McCain needs something to lift his spirits and bounce back in his flagging polls after painful Palin's disaster of a TV interview. And last night's first set-piece TV debate may just swing it. 


Friday, September 26, 2008

Kelly Nails Miliband Colours To Her Mast

The mystery whether transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, jumped ship or was thrown overboard soon after Brown's conference speech, is clearer today, in a frank interview in which she fears a "drift to the Left" and heaped praise on Blair-boy Miliband. The "family reasons" excuse doesn't hold water. 

Kelly told the London Evening Standard: "The danger is very clear. The centre ground was forged for Labour by Blair and Brown in the run-up to 1997. Now there are people who see an opportunity to row back on that."

With a leadership challenge to Brown from the selfish opportunists in the Blairite Progress group, Kelly is in no doubt that heir-to-Blair Miliband is the best man for the job.

"He is one of the great talents the Cabinet - a star of the future, a real asset and a good friend," she said. 

It seems that Blairite challenge is still alive and the Brownites did indeed claim their first scalp as indicted here. Kelly hinted that more may follow in a cabinet reshuffle.

The expected true Labour challenge to the leadership didn't materialise over the summer. Instead it seems the trade unions have wrung some serious concessions out of Brown in return for party funding. 

Top of that list would have been action over the City fat cats who have helped to cause the current financial crisis. But Kelly said it was essential that the goverment remained "pro-aspiration, probusiness and pro-market".

"There are those in the party who want us to raise draconian regulation and restrict City bonuses. I don't agree," she said.

Kelly, who has lent a willing ear to government lobbyists in the Heathrow expansion plan and a number of high profile government lobbies, could be carving herself out a career move in the City. 

"Of course bonuses should not be for irresponsible short-term behaviour. But it's easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and as a party, we have to be very wary. If you go down that road, you can end up drawing the wrong policy conclusions, " she said.


Brown Comforts Bush In Bail-Out Breakdown

Bad-boy Bush is taking time out from digging himself out of his economic hole, later today, to pose with Brown for the Downing Street family album. Meanwhile, wife Sarah has already got her picture taken with the sisterhood.

Brown's aides must have called in a few favours yesterday, as it became clear no-one wanted to meet up with him, so they tried to fix up a hastily arranged photocall at the White House.

Bush is having to wriggle hard as it becomes clear the US economic meltdown was the result of years of him letting the fat cats in Wall Street trouser billions of dollars with few checks or balances.

Brown isn't even bothering to wriggle - instead he cut a lonely figure as he wandered aimlessly around the UN, talking about mosquito nets and "Millennium Development Goals". 

The Democrat-controlled Congress won't let Bush get away with it that easily and are stalling for time over the $700 billion bail-out deal to buy up the bank's 'toxic' bad debts. 

Instead they are insisting tax-payers cash doesn't go straight back into the pockets of the Wall Street executives, proper checks are in place and the cash will also be used to help out the thousands of people caught up in the sub-prime housing misery.

But no-one has stopped to ask just where did the figure of $700 billion come from? Apparently it was plucked out of thin air, because it's a really big number.

Apart from comforting each other over the economic mess they've both created, today's meeting with Bush will have another agenda. Bush could tell Brown just when he can pull troops out of Iraq and just how many more troops he's got to send to Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile wife Sarah is having a ball, having her picture taken with Sarah Palin and Wendi Deng Murdoch (Sarah B is the one on the left). What do these three fine looking gals have in common? They all have links to the Tony Blair fan club. 


Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Look For Orange Party Blog

Four months after its birth, the Orange Party political blog has had a face-lift, to give it a cleaner look and uncluttered feel.  

Unlike some newspapers which have gone for all style over substance, the aim remains the same - to inject a dose of real clear political journalism without distractions or political interference.

While focussing on English politics, the brief has expanded since the blog launched in May of this year, to take in the US presidential campaign, because the outcome affects us all. 

What wasn't expected was the huge number of visitors from the US and outside the UK. But the core reporting remains England-centric.

Under the heading "A New Beginning?", posted in May, the observations are as true now as they were then - probably more so: 
The New Labour Project is dead. In 1997, the Gang of Four hijacked the Labour Party. It was kept going by the superb showmanship of Blair, the sinister spin of Campbell, the crafty accounting of Brown and the shifty skulduggery of Mandelson. 

Brown and New Labour just don't get it. The Project only worked with a smiley face up front. Now, after 11 years, people have finally woken up to the con and won't be taken in by any more spin and hype. Soon New Labour will be just a sad and embarrassing footnote in history.

New Labour and the Political Elite will try to hang on and relaunch (again). But with no viable front person to replace Brown, they are all doomed. Eventually they will have to give up and the Party will probably go back to its true Labour roots. 

The LibDems have blown it. By electing Clegg they missed the signs of the winds of change and went for a telegenic New Labour clone. 

The Conservative just don't know where to position themselves. Is Cameron still the heir to Blair? Now no one knows. The rise in popularity of the Tories is a vote against New Labour rather than a vote for the Tories.

In Scotland, the SNP is establishing itself as the party for the people of Scotland. In Wales, the Welsh Labour Party is putting water between itself and Westminster and will eventually join with Plaid Cymru in a reformed Welsh National Party. In Northern Ireland, politicians from all parties are trying to make a peaceful solution work - in the best interests of Northern Ireland.

So what of the future? Events, dear chap, events...


ICO Rips Into Clegg's Cold Calls

Nick Clegg's cold call to thousands of annoyed punters, trying to get dinner ready and bath the kids, has received a frosty reception from the Information Commission, who has told them to 'ring off' or face prosecution.

The LibDems, who made 250,000 direct marketing calls last week, have been issued with an enforcement notice after complaints to the commissioner's office (ICO).

An automated 30 second voice message from Blair-boy Clegg huffing and puffing away was played during the early evening calls.

The ICO said: "After reviewing the phone script, the ICO concluded that the calls were made for the purpose of promoting the Liberal Democrats and therefore constituted direct marketing."

"Many people find unsolicited automated calls particularly intrusive and annoying so it is important that any organisation making such calls ensures that individuals have given their consent before they are targeted."

The SNP, was told off by ICO, after the LibDems complained about their use of unsolicited automated calls, using the voice of Sean Connery. Though it's thought many people welcomed the chance to hear Connery's dulcet tones.


US Snubs Brown To Deal With Their Economy

Brown's big talk of meeting "financial and government leaders", has fallen on deaf ears, as US politicians and finance chiefs snub him, to concentrate on the real task of digging themselves out of the hole of a looming economic meltdown. 

Instead, Brown is attending a UN summit on the issue of the "Millennium Development Goals" and attending a celebrity fund-raising dinner, as aides try to fix up a hurried meeting for tomorrow.

US treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, has already turned down a request to meet the prime minister. President Bush is due to address the nation on a $700 billion rescue plan and presidential hopefuls, McCain and Obama are to meet with Bush to hammer out a cross-party emergency bail-out package.

Brown, as chancellor and now prime minister, is directly responsible for the current economic mess in the UK, when he blindly followed the US lead, to allow greedy banks to make fat profits with little regulation. 

Meanwhile, as Brown struts around the UN stage, posing for celebrity snaps with his wife, people here are left wondering how the government is going to tackle the imminent threat of rampant inflation, looming unemployment and the nightmare of burgeoning debt.

The BBC's Nick Robinson observes: "The best Gordon Brown can hope for on this trip is a dialogue which produces an appetite for reform in the future."

Instead of empty gestures and more mosquito nets for Africa, Brown should stick to the issues which directly affect people back home and leave his pet project of a global dialogue for another day.


Immigrants Used To Soften Up ID Cards

Immigrant workers and students are being stigmatised and forced to act as guinea pigs, to soften the blow of the roll-out of the government's hugely expensive and discredited £20 billion national ID card scheme. 

Home secretary, Jacqui Smith, was at the forefront of the government PR and spin today, when she unveiled the design of the new ID cards for foreign nationals, due to be introduced in November, using the lame excuse of tackling illegal immigration to justify the move.

Phil Booth, of the national No2ID campaign group, said: "The Home Office is trying to salami slice the population to get this scheme going in any way they can. The volume of foreign nationals involved is minuscule so it won't do anything to tackle illegal immigration."

Thousands of immigrant workers and students now face being branded as aliens, after being lured into the UK to work for a pittance in appalling condition in the food processing and service industries to prop up the ailing economy. Students are enticed over to study worthless courses, as a cash cow for the universities and colleges. 

What next, an emblem sewn onto their clothing? 

Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, said: "This week the Prime Minister said he doesn't do PR but clearly the Home Secretary wasn't listening. Picking on foreigners first is divisive politics; as costly to our race relations as our purses."

The roll-out comes hard on the heels of a string of data loss blunders, sparking fears about the security of personal data, including the loss of a memory stick containing data on thousands of prison records, by the same firm that's already been paid £135m for the ID card and visa schemes.

This huge waste of public money is co-ordinated by an army of civil servants and consultants from the firm, PA Consulting, as well as staff on secondment from the Passport Service, the Metropolitan Police and a management consultant company.

At the time of the data stick loss, Conservatives accused ministers of a "massive failure of duty", attempting to shift the blame and called on the government to urgently examine the implications of the latest fiasco for the £20 billion ID card project.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brownites Claim First Scalp as Kelly Quits

Brown's iron grip on the cabinet and government tightened today as die-hard Blairite, Ruth Kelly, announced she was to quit the cabinet and stole the thunder of his conference speech. 

Kelly's announcement could not have come at a worst time for Brown as it makes his conference speech very much yesterday's news.

As Brown tries to head off a leadership challenge and assert his authority over a divided government, Blair's Progress group of plotters look to have been out manoeuvred for the time being.

The transport secretary used the code of stepping down "for family reasons" when in reality she joins a number of ministers who are fed up and know the game is up. The only question remaining is did she jump or was she pushed?

Others may follow. Chief whip, Geoff Hoon, is another who could face the chop and sent packing to Brussels to replace one of the New Labour architects and uber-plotter, Peter Mandleson.

However Miliband's clever high profile posturing has probably secured his future in the top echelons of a dying government.

Brown used his speech to the part faithful and unfaithful to give himself breathing space and to reaffirm his Blair credentials but in a Brown sort of way.

At the moment he's sucking up to his banking pals in the US, so that long-awaited cabinet reshuffle will have to wait until his return, perhaps timed to steal the thunder of the Conservative Party conference. 


Brown's Keynote Hits Bum Note With Voters

Brown may have eased the pain of some of his thick-skinned and selfish band of MPs and ministers, worried about losing their jobs and seats in the next election but his 'keynote' speech to conference will hit a bum note with voters. 

He could have pulled a rabbit out of the hat to persuade people to vote for New Labour in the coming by-elections but there was no big policy here to create a wow factor. 

But then that wasn't the intention. It was to give Brown breathing space, more time and, as such, this was a New Labour speech - all style and no substance.

It was crafted to head off a Blairite leadership challenge and with "this is no time for a novice", sent Blair-boy Miliband back to the classroom and nailed his New Labour Blairite colours to the mast:

"New Labour has always been at its best when we have applied our values to changing times. In the 1990s Tony and I asked you to change policy to meet new challenges."

That will not entice back voters, who are turning away from New Labour in their droves, in Scotland and England, nor will yet another Brown rebranding and relaunch. 

Still this was billed as a Labour Party conference, so there was a sprinkling of the word "fairness" and a few crumbs of comfort, otherwise he'd be done under the Trades Description Act. 

Previous failed policies were spun as good news but only to name check the ministers and try to keep them in line with platitudes, to justify his judgement and mask their incompetence. But with the long-awaited cabinet reshuffle now more likely anytime soon, some of the die-hard Blairites were clearly not impressed.

In this two-faced speech he took a swipe at the media and at politicians who use their families to gain media coverage - and then used his wife to introduce him. 

And just in case the fat cats and business pals were having second thoughts about donating cash to the New Labour coffers, he reassured them:

"We are and will always be a pro-enterprise, pro-business and pro-competition government. And we believe the dynamism of our five million businesses large and small is vital to the success of our country."  

Miliband may have had delegates rolling in the aisles with his Frank Spencer impression but he did come out with one grain of truth by singling out Brown's achievements, complimenting him for his work in International Development and, er, that was it. 

Brown ended as he began, by speaking to the Party faithful and not so faithful, not to the people, with an election rallying call: 

"We will win, not for the sake of our party, together we will win for the future of our country." 

A strange call for something that, officially at least, is still 18 months away.

Brown is a dead man walking and his conference speech will not change that. Yesterday a call was made here for Brown to face 'death with dignity'.

Instead, he has chosen to ignore that advice and will now suffer the dire consequences, taking his beloved New Labour project with him but sadly for English and Scottish politics, also the whole of the Labour Party. 


Nuke Family Silver Sold Off To French

The government has finally sold off the nuclear silver to the French government after the deal was put on hold to stave of the embarrassment of an announcement at the same time as a huge hike in gas bills. Hiking up gas prices, reporting huge profits, then buying nuclear plants, just wouldn't look good. 

Now the nuclear power company, British Energy - one of the few part publicly-owned firms left to sell - has been sold to French firm, EDF, in a £12 billion deal with around £4 billion of that filling the coffers to prop up Brown's ailing economy.

In addition, British Gas owner Centrica, which also announced huge profits and an equally huge rise in gas bills, will take a 25% stake in all new nuclear plants built by EDF.

British Energy, which owns eight UK nuclear power stations, has been on the books for months.

French government-owned EDF, along with British Gas owner, Centrica, had been widely expected to announce it was buying British Energy in August. 

Then, shortly after announcing huge profits and a steep rise in gas bills, out of the blue, EDF put out a statement in the middle of the night, saying "conditions were not right" to proceed with the deal. 

Brown had hoped to tap into the Saudis £500 billion Sovereign Wealth Fund when he tried to sell it off to the Saudis on his visit in June. That deal didn't come off. Maybe selling out nuclear industry to the Middle East was just too politically sensitive. 

So instead it is set to be sold off to the French government-owned EDF - and a lot of groundwork has been done to make this possible. 

British Energy is the last business part-owned by the state which has 37% stake and by law required a UK boss. So the rules were changed so a foreign firm and boss can take it over. 

Then, there would be opposition and long planning delays in building and replacing nuclear power stations. The planning laws are due to be changed with an unelected and unaccountable quango brought in to push it through.

It's a victory too for the nuclear lobby and in particular Gordon Brown's brother Andrew Brown, who is Head of Corporate Communications at EDF Energy.

EDF, with an 87% French government stake, is already one of the big six energy suppliers in the UK, along with Centrica.

Regardless of a Centrica stake in the company, the deal is still likely to be controversial, particularly over whether EDF should be able to develop new power plants on existing British Energy sites. 

And there's also the vexed issue of whether the UK's nuclear power industry should be placed in the hands of a firm run by a French government company.

The government has finally sold off the last thing we owned, the family silver.


BBC Has Atomic Kittens As Big Bang Breaks Down

It was billed by the BBC as the answer to life, the universe and everything and given star billing across the corporation, as boffins in Geneva showed how they could waste billions of pounds firing bits of atoms round a big underground doughnut, the size of a starving third world township. 

8.30am September 10, 2008 was set to go down in history - and it certainly did as the Big Bang turned into a small whimper. 

Now the leaking Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as it is known in scientific circles is to be shut down until next year, to save on electricity.

No surprise there. If the BBC had just taken the trouble with a little light reading on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Kolmogorov's Theory of Probability, they could have predicted that would happen, probably. 

It was the BBC who went into nuclear overdrive with blanket coverage of the "Big Bang Day". Even Andrew Marr was left gasping in amazement when at 8.30am a flick of a switch produced a blurred blip on a computer screen.

Unlike the switch-on, the shut-down has merited only a tiny mention by the BBC.

Still the media had a field day during the silly season predicting it could mean the end of the world or the biggest scientific breakthrough since sliced atoms, depending on their point of view. And it gave this blog the opportunity to file a spoof story of the non-event, hailing it as Brown's Big Bang day. 

In journalism, nothing is wasted, not even a silly story for the silly season. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is Obama Set To Dump Biden For Clinton?

Obama's running-mate, Joe Biden, branded a campaign ad mocking McCain's ignorance of computers as "terrible", during a CBS interview. Another gaff, fuelling further speculation that Obama could be laying the groundwork ready to dump his running-mate for Hillary Clinton.

The ad attracted widespread criticism for not mentioning that MCain's Vietnam war injuries actually prevent him from using computers for an extended period.

The speculation of a switch is swirling around the internet and is not going away. Like all rumours, it was probably first placed to test the waters. 

Biden's criticism of the McCain ad is the latest to question the judgement of the Obama campaign strategy. Biden has done little to help the Obama machine since he was picked four weeks ago, even admitting on one occasion that Clinton might have been a better choice, "and quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me."  

With the formidable McCain-Palin ticket looking increasingly strong, despite the MSM attempts to discredit them, many Democrats now believe that Obama-Clinton is the only way to beat them.

Syndicated columnist, Jack Kelly in the Washington Times, reports that "my friend Steve Maloney says his sources in the Democratic Party tell him Barack Obama is being pressured to dump Sen. Joseph Biden from the ticket and replace him with Hillary Clinton, the switch to come just after the vice presidential debate Oct. 2." 

Kelly asks: "What might prompt such an act of desperation? The answer is clear - the polls". 

Obama's poll results, which indicate the race is a statistical dead heatshould always be taken with a pinch of salt and are reckoned by pundits to be four to six points lower than they appear. And, taken with the more significant trends from the State Electoral Colleges, where 270 votes are needed to win, Obama’s chances suddenly don't look that good.

The Obama campaign has only one objective and that is to put their man in the White House. If that means ditching Biden, swallowing their pride and sucking up to Clinton, then that is the price they are prepared to pay. 

Speculation about such a switch has emerged on several US blogs, including Andy Ostroy on the Obama supporting Huffington Post, who believes replacing Biden with Clinton makes perfect sense for Obama. 

"It's time to dump Biden and replace him with Sen. Hillary Clinton," said Ostroy. "I'm starting to think that if Team Obama doesn't do something dramatic fast, it's gonna lose this election."

"Shake things up. Be unconventional. Roll the dice. Out-McCain McCain. Who cares how it looks. Who cares what the media thinks. One thing's certain: there's an 18-million deep pot of gold out there waiting to be mined. An Obama/Clinton ticket would slam the door shut on this election."

There is a deeper reason for suspecting this may be more than just speculation. 

A lawsuit, brought by Philip Berg over Obama's eligibility to stand for president, first reported in the UK here, comes to a head in the next few weeks. 

Berg, a Philadelphia attorney, has filed a lawsuit in the Pennsylvania District Court against Obama, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), claiming Obama is constitutionally ineligible to run for and hold the office of President.

If anything should happen to scupper Obama's chances, that would leave Biden to automatically assume the mantle of presidential nominee. 

That would spell disaster for the Democrats in the election. Far better to have Clinton take the heat out of the situation and give the media a new focus away from McCain-Palin and the court case. 

And if Obama was forced out, now or later - Clinton would be more than happy to step into his shoes.


Brown Should Face Death With Dignity

Watching Brown and the sad spectacle that used to be called the Labour Party conference, smacks of the Wizard of Oz. A horse by any other colour is still a horse. Someone should humanely put them out of their misery. All Brown and his ministers can do is look for a brain, urge delegates not to lose heart and hold their nerve. 

Prescott was doing what he has been doing for years, trying to rally the troops. Only no one was listening to his tired, old rant. Campbell tried not to sound like a bully and gave a few empty words to camera, cruelly captioned as the "former spin doctor" by Channel 4 News

Ministers try to sound fresh but just regurgitate the spin and hype set out for them in craftily worded press releases. 

Miliband, in his cliché ridden leader-in-waiting speech, tried to appear a bit more Brown but came across as a Blair schoolboy.

Doomsday Darling repeated the economic warning of hard times ahead and then proceeded to do what the government has always done and borrow itself out of trouble. 

The side-show of a Blairite leadership challenge is just that - a side-show.

The government's overarching strategy is to cling on to power until the bitter end. Any successful challenger would have to call an election sooner rather than later and face a wipe out. So the strategy is to limp along for the next 18 months. 

Even the grandee of the Labour Party, Tony Benn, has given up on conference and taken his bat home. Writing in the Sunday Times, Benn hit the nail on the head. "It’s Labour’s policies that the voters don’t like." Now that's from a guy who knows a thing or two about Labour Party politics!

Brown made his appearance on Sunday, wearing what at first appeared to be a hair shirt, admitting he'd made a few mistakes and telling the BBC "he will do better". But the wizard in sackcloth and ashes soon turned out to be the same bloke behind the curtain. 

Brown tried to play the sympathy card. He was a "pretty ordinary guy". Only the last person to try that on with a "pretty straight sort of guy" defence was Blair, after being exposed in the Bernie Ecclestone scandal - and that 'pretty straight guy' is now wanted for war crimes. 

Then, as always, Brown went and spoilt it all by saying something stupid and droning on about everything being the fault of global this and that and again he's just "getting on with the job". 

Brown must realise that voters have seen through the light touch decade and the smoke and mirrors of the economic mess which is actually his fault.

Sun political editor, Trevor Kavanagh, echoed the views made here on Friday, that it is Brown who should shoulder the blame for the economic mess. 

Unlike here though, Kavanagh doesn't call for Brown to face death with dignity - because in his view, he is already dead. 

"They are ready to pretend the corpse in Labour’s shop window is still alive and kicking. Gordon is already a dead man walking. The trouble is that, as Chancellor, Gordon ran the economy in much the same way as the bosses of troubled companies such as HBOS and Northern Rock. While preaching “prudence”, he doubled spending and borrowed like there was no tomorrow. Mr Brown blames America for the global economic crisis. But none of this came out of a clear blue sky." 

So it will be a "keynote" speech full of flats in Manchester later today, because no one is really coming to his Party.

It is a just a huge trade fair, as Benn put it. Sucking up to anyone who may wield a bit of power and influence. And a few speeches from the thick skinned, selfish and arrogant government ministers and hangers on. 

The trade union movement showed some teeth at the TUC conference, only to be put in its place by the New Labour bosses firmly entrenched in the movement. 

The same is happening at conference, packed with a grace and favour New Labour mob and a craftily rewritten Blair Rule Book which will stifle any debate on any issue of importance. 

So where is the debate on whether we should be wasting billions of pounds on a pointless and unwinable war in Afghanistan? When exactly will the troops be pulled out of Iraq? Where is the policy stand on Trident? 

Where is any debate on the merits of bringing some strategic utilities and services into public ownership for the public good? And where is the demand for a windfall tax on the greed energy companies?

These were thrown out at the same time as Walter Wolfgang was manhandled out of the 2005 conference by New Labour's thugs, for daring to utter the word "rubbish". These people have short memories. 

Those debates centring on true Labour values are still going on but have been forced out into the cold in the dozens of fringe meetings surrounding the main conference.

What is needed from a prime minister and leader of the dying Labour Party, is strong leadership and real policies to tackle the rising inflation, creeping unemployment and the spiral of the debt culture. 

Brown cannot hope to raise the spirits in Manchester today. Deep depression is now deep-rooted. Even electric shock treatment would just blow a fuse.

If Brown only had a heart, a brain, some nerve and went with honour, he could go the way of the tin man, straw man and lion and return home with some dignity. 

And the irony is that if Brown did have the courage to own up to fact that the current mess is of his own making and do the honourable thing and call a snap general election to let the people decide - his popularity would probably soar.