Laurence Fox - Political ambitions

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
I agree. No way was Magic Grandad fit for PM, and I'm unconvinced that Starmer isn't his generation's Kinnock - the nightwatchman between the loonies, and an electable leader.

It doesn't make Johnson truthful, though - just the least bad option.
Starmer is not in the same league as the bald ginger Euro-Welshman. Neil Kinnock fought and won against Militant Tendency and the hard left in his Party, turning it from an unelectable socialist shambles into the precursor of the election-winning Blairite machine of the 90s. He had intelligence, passion and was a skilled orator; hardly a night watchman. I am a Conservative Party member, and disagree with the vast majority of what Kinnock said over the years, but give the man his due - he was an incisive and effective Party leader who stamped his own authority on his Party.

Starmer? He's not even a night watchman IMHO; more of a startled and somewhat worried bystander watching something awful unfolding. He's obviously intelligent (you rarely get morons appointed as DPP, and he managed to get himself elected as head of Labour), but he's done little to take control of the Party, and whilst not quite as awful as his predecessor, has been an ineffectual Leader of HM Opposition.
 
I am a Conservative Party member, and disagree with the vast majority of what Kinnock said over the years, but give the man his due - he was an incisive and effective Party leader who stamped his own authority on his Party.
True, but Kinnock also had the advantage of a young movement that supported his reforms (Blair et al); senior Party members with a bit of credibility (John Smith); and people like Arthur Scargill and Derek Hatton providing very real worked examples of why Militant Tendency needed stamping out.

I'm not sure that Starmer has equivalent internal support; and Momentum, fortunately or unfortunately, haven't provided equivalent levels of proof that they're a bunch of dangerous and vicious incompetents (e.g. taxis delivering redundancy notices in Liverpool).

I also wonder about the PR aspects of it, as opposed to behind-the-scenes reality. For instance, Michael Howard seemed far more popular in the Conservative press than John Major - but Major won an election he was never expected to win, then led and held a party together for a full term, in the face of internal strife. Which was the more competent leader? Which of them was presented as such, at the time?
 
I had to check the thread title there. For a moment I thought I'd stumbled into the Labour Leader thread.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
True, but Kinnock also had the advantage of a young movement that supported his reforms (Blair et al); senior Party members with a bit of credibility (John Smith); and people like Arthur Scargill and Derek Hatton providing very real worked examples of why Militant Tendency needed stamping out.

I'm not sure that Starmer has equivalent internal support; and Momentum, fortunately or unfortunately, haven't provided equivalent levels of proof that they're a bunch of dangerous and vicious incompetents (e.g. taxis delivering redundancy notices in Liverpool).

I also wonder about the PR aspects of it, as opposed to behind-the-scenes reality. For instance, Michael Howard seemed far more popular in the Conservative press than John Major - but Major won an election he was never expected to win, then led and held a party together for a full term, in the face of internal strife. Which was the more competent leader? Which of them was presented as such, at the time?
Don't underestimate the rump Labour membership; not everyone under thirty pines for the return of Corbyn, from what I have heard from Labour friends, much of the grass roots of the party are fed up with the Corbynites (and to be fair, the Blairites on the other side) turning their Party into a toxic battleground where victory over your fellow members' opposing ideology is more important than winning elections.

Starmer has a problem in that he's trying to be all things to all people: vaguely lefty to the unions and Momentum, vaguely centrist to the centrists, effusively apologetic in whatever direction wokery decides and so on. This has been spoken about disparagingly in recent months by several senior MPs* who say he'll just agree with whoever is haranguing him then go on doing very little, in the hope that he won't have to make a decision which he can be criticised for. Trouble with that is, there aren't many decisions that can't be criticised... and I can't imagine Kinnock doing that back in the 80s.

The comparison of Major and Howard is an interesting choice, but not one easy to give an answer; Howard was not PM, whilst Major was dealing with the baggage of over a decade of Tory rule and all the pigeons were coming home to roost on his watch. Of the two I know who I would trust with my money or my wife, but is that necessarily the yardstick by which leaders should be measured? The current PM (80 seat majority, cut the Gordian knot of Brexit, led the nation through the largest pandemic in living memory and is still miles ahead in the polls), would suggest otherwise.







* Links somewhere in the New Labour Leader thread, please don't expect me to name names!
 
...but is that necessarily the yardstick by which leaders should be measured? The current PM (80 seat majority, cut the Gordian knot of Brexit, led the nation through the largest pandemic in living memory and is still miles ahead in the polls), would suggest otherwise.

I'll acknowledge and give credit to him that he managed to shut the ERG up, come out with a deal, and by winning that majority a) save us from Magic Grandpa, and b) sideline the Dinosaur Deniers - whatever the more staunch Brexiteers believe, I still reckon that a no-deal outcome had a good chance of being a train wreck. Not an apocalypse, but messy and far more painful than necessary. Being able to dump the DUP is a lovely worked example in realpolitik, and Arlene only has herself to blame.

For me, though, the jury's out on "led the nation through the pandemic" - remember, this is the bloke who refused to put India on the red list for two critical weeks this year; missed the COBR briefings, didn't listen, and insisted he was going to carry on shaking hands as normal last year (until he had a near-miss and a couple of weeks out of the game). It's all very well cutting red tape to deliver PPE, but if the dust settles and it turns out that Party Donors had preferential ability to make a very tidy profit out of it? It won't look good.

Even if Cummings is a bitter and vindictive weasel, there's enough evidence to suggest the PM isn't exactly Churchill, in the same way that Blair was never Attlee. Whatever they tell themselves when they look in the mirror.
 
Last edited:

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
I'll acknowledge and give credit to him that he managed to shut the ERG up, come out with a deal, and by winning that majority a) save us from Magic Grandpa, and b) sideline the Dinosaur Deniers - whatever the more staunch Brexiteers believe, I still reckon that a no-deal outcome had a good chance of being a train wreck. Not an apocalypse, but messy and far more painful than necessary. Being able to dump the DUP is a lovely worked example in realpolitik, and Arlene only has herself to blame.

For me, though, the jury's out on "led through the pandemic" - remember, this is the bloke who refused to put India on the red list for two critical weeks this year; missed the COBR briefings, didn't listen, and insisted he was going to carry on shaking hands as normal last year (until he had a near-miss and a couple of weeks out of the game).

Even if Cummings is a bitter and vindictive weasel, there's enough evidence to suggest he's not exactly Churchill, in the same way that Blair was never Attlee.
I've never believed he was Churchill incarnate* and contrary to some rather hysterical accusations on here I'm very clear on the qualities of the PM. IMHO he is very much the least worst option, and once as the Conservative Party finds a better option I will be calling for him to move aside. I don't see anyone who fits the bill yet.

However there is of course the bonus that just as the song says, he "upsets all the right people"... :-D






*As @Boumer (IIRC) said, Boris is closer to Lloyd George than Winston.
 
I also wonder about the PR aspects of it, as opposed to behind-the-scenes reality. For instance, Michael Howard seemed far more popular in the Conservative press than John Major - but Major won an election he was never expected to win, then led and held a party together for a full term, in the face of internal strife. Which was the more competent leader? Which of them was presented as such, at the time?
Apples and oranges. History (well, political history) is going to be very kind to Howard's leadership of the Tories IMO.

No one expected him to win the 2005 election, but a bit like Kinnock on steroids, he brought in professionalism, competence, and credibility after the nadir of IDS' leadership. He also promoted Cameron and Osborne, made them his proteges, engineered a timed leadership election that would benefit the one he favoured, and arguably made 2010 possible.

You might argue with whether any of that was a good thing, but by god that's a consummate politician at work and at the top of his game.
 
Major, let's not forget, was Maggie's preferred candidate to succeed her.

She fairly quickly revised her view of him being an heir apparent (mainly because he didn't borrow her handbag and apply it liberally to the heads of the EC/EU leadership). Kinnock was effective at sorting out Militant, but he came across badly on TV - had he adopted his Have I Got News For You persona, rather than doing the Sheffield rally, shouting 'Well Allllll- RIggggght!' several times and managing to come across as a bit of a tw@t in the last week of the campaign, he might have done better - the Conservative voters he needed to win in key seats were put off.

Blair didn't make the same error, and by the time Conservative voters who'd switched realised their mistake, he was sitting on a majority which was impossible to overturn in 2001; then a majority which was almost impossible to overturn in 2005 and he left Brown with a majority which meant Cameron needed a 10% (it might have been more) swing in the votes to gain a majority in 2010 - which, of course, he didn't get.

Howard made it possible for the Conservatives to put Cameron in No.10 in 2010 - the great 'what if' is what would have happened if, instead of selecting the political colossus that is IDS as leader in 2001, When he did become leader, there were many Tory MPs who wondered why on earth they'd not put him in post some years before...
 
Howard made it possible for the Conservatives to put Cameron in No.10 in 2010 - the great 'what if' is what would have happened if, instead of selecting the political colossus that is IDS as leader in 2001, When he did become leader, there were many Tory MPs who wondered why on earth they'd not put him in post some years before...

I think they essentially ballsed up the choice of leader from Major through to Howard. An interesting counter-factual, which still wouldn't have won the 2001 election because of the size of the Blair majority, would be to have gone for Clarke or Howard in 1997, *then* Hague in 2001 or 2005 (if Clarke/Howard had remained leader) and seen where that had got them. Might not have needed Howard in those circs. Europe was always going to be KC's achilles heel with the membership, but at least he's a grown up and the rebuild-from-the-shambles Howard had to take on probably wouldn't have been needed.

Hague was too early in 1997, and wasted his leadership in an impossible position. If he'd held fire and been Howard or Clarke's deputy post 1997 then he'd have been in with a shot in the early 2000s.

The less said about IDS the better. Oh actually, at least he's not Michael Ancram.

Weirdly, and that leadership election is coming back to me like a fever dream, another point in IDS' favour (I can't believe I've thought of two), it might have been wiped from the collective memory that there was a candidate pulling the Cameron card avant la lettre. One Liam Fox. So we dodged that bullet too.
 
I've never believed he was Churchill incarnate* and contrary to some rather hysterical accusations on here I'm very clear on the qualities of the PM. IMHO he is very much the least worst option, and once as the Conservative Party finds a better option I will be calling for him to move aside. I don't see anyone who fits the bill yet.

However there is of course the bonus that just as the song says, he "upsets all the right people"... :-D






*As @Boumer (IIRC) said, Boris is closer to Lloyd George than Winston.

I don't think I did say that, tbf.

Plus, Lloyd George was a much more capable operator that Johnson in my opinion.

I mean (right or wrong though you may think it) Johnson would never have had the spine to, for example, send the Black and Tans in and "grip murder by the throat".

(Much good though it did in the long run).
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
I mean (right or wrong though you may think it) Johnson would never have had the spine to, for example, send the Black and Tans in and "grip murder by the throat".
Sorry, are you arguing for the Welsh Wizard or Boris here?
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Sorry, are you arguing for the Welsh Wizard or Boris here?

Lloyd George could make a decision, I don't think the same can be said for Johnson.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
The only decision he made there was which brief to read of the two he wrote.
So a decision then. Would you rather he made decisions without considering the alternatives? Seems a little extreme...
 
So a decision then. Would you rather he made decisions without considering the alternatives? Seems a little extreme...

In the immortal words, he waits to see which way the crowd is going and runs to the front and says "follow me".

Neither a decision nor leadership.

Let him play PM for a while and then just f*ck off.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer

Latest Threads

Top