Gordon the Squatter

John Rentoul

Prime Minister Gordon Bro 012 300x195 Gordon the SquatterPaul Waugh has performed a valuable public service in comparing the pre-election version of Sir Gus O’Donnell’s guide to a hung parliament and the new edition. He identifies the addition of this paragraph as the main change:

The incumbent prime minister is not expected to resign until it is clear that there is someone else who should be asked to form a government because they are better placed to command the confidence of the House of Commons and that information has been communicated to the Sovereign.

But I am not sure that Waugh’s interpretation of its significance is right. He says:

It looks to me as though this is designed to prevent the power vacuum that existed when Gordon Brown suddenly gave up and quit.

On the contrary, I think it is designed to justify, retrospectively, Brown’s staying in office for five days after the election. I remember talk at the time from both Tories and Tom Harris about his “squatting” in No 10 and demands for him to go.

I thought he was right to stay, and think that this paragraph is an attempt to explain why.

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

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  • stonedwolf

    That’s like blaming John Pilger for reporting the East Timor massacre, rather than blaming – say – the Indonesian authorities.

  • Jake_K

    Have a crack at some research John. Remember who made the “Squatting” crack? BBC website – search “Clegg on Brown ’squatting’ in Downing Street”

    From there there was never going to be a Lib/Lab pact….

  • StarDasher

    …”Do not, for a moment, shed responsibility for “actual lives lost” from Brown, or Straw, or any of the rest of them. It was not Blair alone. He had a Cabinet, and every member of the Cabinet that agreed to attack Iraq is equally responsible.”…

    Presumably, then, your ‘disapproval’ extends to all the MPs who voted for the attack, plus the vast majority of the country who didn’t march against it, but ‘went along with it’.

    Perhaps you could enter politics so as to apply your perfect judgement to the rest of the world’s ills.

  • ptstroud

    I am afraid that Brown always was a squatter at Number 10. As Blair walked out Brown ensured that bullying and threats, backed up by his henchmen, would remove any chance of a leadership election. The man was grossly oversold by the Labour party as an economic genius and a giant intellect when he was in Number 11. He then proved the overselling of his talent during his three year squat in number 10. Best forgotten.

  • vanzetti

    I wonder who is the greater squatter, Gordon Brown who refused to go to the polls or the Cameron-Clegg, the unelected government with no legitimacy or mandate hell bent on inflicting t the most iniquitous budget in living memory. Can there be any doubt that junior members of this ultra conservative coalition got there through maleficent. Having secured their electoral mandate on the basis of specific concrete manifesto commitments, abandoned them as a coalition expediency, this is indeed the new politics. The new politics of perpetual betrayal as defined by that petit flatus of British politics, little paddy ashdown

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