Democracy in Action

Thomas Jones · Tony Blair's 615 Fans

Bizarre lost causes, no.1 in an occasional series: the campaign to 'Keep Tony Blair for Prime Minister’. Failing that, they're keen for people at least to sign a petition to 'Ban Blair-Baiting’ for the duration of the Chilcot Inquiry. The petition has been online since the beginning of August last year. In seven months it's gathered a whopping 615 signatures. According to 'Keep TB for PM', the reason for this is a 'conspiracy of silence’ by the British press. Well, that's a charge they can level no longer – you heard it here first. Go on, sign it if you want to. Tell your friends. Let's see if we can't get it up to 616 by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the Facebook group 'I bet I can find a million people who DON'T want David Cameron as our PM’ has more than 142,000 members (slightly less than the population of Reading). They probably won't make it to a million before the election, and even if they do it obviously won't do anything to stop the Tories.

As for the actual prime minister, the LRB recently received this letter from a reader, Sean McGlynn:

I'm a little behind with my reading. In the 24 April 1997 issue of LRB, Ian Hamilton contributes a piece on the hazards of politicians when electioneering. 'Politicians, it is generally agreed, must never lose their tempers... a pol must always keep his cool. A single lapse and he is finished.' Seemingly, thirteen years on, the opposite holds true: when even repeated lapses occur then, as with Gordon Brown's well-publicised outbursts, the electorate responds positively. Or is that purely out of fear of being duffed up?

Hamilton also muses on 'what Gordon Brown conceals beneath his mask of stony moderation'. Well, now we know: further confirmation of Alastair Campbell's verdict of 'psychologically flawed'. (If this letter is published, would it be wise for the PM to know where I live?)

Address duly withheld, though I'm sure the forces of hell, if not MI5, could track McGlynn down easily enough if they really wanted to.


  • 3 March 2010 at 11:15am
    Phil Edwards says:
    I think the public react quite differently from the political class. The latter think, with Dave Semple or Brian Barder, that Brown is clearly not someone you'd want to work with and definitely not someone you'd want to work for, and therefore Brown should probably go. The rest of us see a man with a nasty temper being jeered at by a man who's learned to control his temper and is rather proud of it. Also, I think we're all* aware that the question on the table isn't "Brown or Blair?", or even "Brown or Miliband major?", but "Labour or Tory?" - and for a lot of people that's just not a hard question.

    *OK, almost all of us.

  • 5 March 2010 at 8:17pm
    jcclakeru says:
    Gordon Brown reminds me of Richard Nixon. It's the public gentlemanliness which seethes annoyance.

  • 7 March 2010 at 12:14am
    bilejones says:
    "‘psychologically flawed’"
    Here are the traits that Hare used to define a Psychopath:
    Factor 1
    Aggressive narcissism

    1. Glibness/superficial charm
    2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
    3. Pathological lying
    4. Cunning/manipulative
    5. Lack of remorse or guilt
    6. Emotionally shallow
    7. Callous/lack of empathy
    8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

    Factor 2
    Socially deviant lifestyle

    1. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
    2. Parasitic lifestyle
    3. Poor behavioral control
    4. Promiscuous sexual behavior
    5. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
    6. Impulsiveness
    7. Irresponsibility
    8. Juvenile delinquency
    9. Early behavioral problems
    10. Revocation of conditional release

    Traits not correlated with either factor

    1. Many short-term marital relationships
    2. Criminal versatility

    Is there any politician that this doesn't describe?

  • 29 March 2010 at 9:33am
    Henry Holland says:
    Thomas Jones writes about the "I bet I can find 1 million who don't want Cameron" facebook campaign:

    "They probably won’t make it to a million before the election, and even if they do it obviously won’t do anything to stop the Tories."

    This kind of political punditry is just too easy. Glance at front page of Guardian; see Cameron's poll lead still pretty large; give "insight" that even if the campaign gets a million it would "obviously" be no use anyway.

    The "obviously won't do anything" line can be thrown at a huge number of issues, and will lessen support for a whole number of issues: Iraq, Afghanistan, world-wide efforts to curb nuclear proliferation: "obviously won't do anything." Journalists have a greater effect on the opinion shaping that underpins election outcomes than non-journalists; we can pass the buck long enough until someone quitely bins "the buck". But is it responsible to do this?

    The "bet I can find 1 million" campaign is real engagement in 2010. That's as real as marching and chanting slogans. We can sit on your sofas watching Newsnight and delivering terribly witty and cynical remarks for the next 4 months; or we can get off the fence, get off our arses and engage.