Hard News by Russell Brown


Mr Brown

I lived in London for five of the Things Can Only Get Better years, when the British Labour Party seemed cast as the perennial Opposition. You got a fair idea of who were the sharpest minds on the Labour side.

I would always despair of Bryan Gould, who would almost invariably get flustered and lose a televised argument with his government counterpart. But I developed a great regard for the dour Scotsman Gordon Brown, who seemed unflappable and fiercely smart.

Tony Blair hadn't been invented at that point, and even when Neil Kinnock's successor, John Smith, died suddenly, it was far from evident that Blair would come through and take the leadership contest from Brown.

So now, Brown finally gets his chance to lead the party - and not only has he seen a modest poll surge, but his pitch is quite appealing - most notably, after the experience of recent years, a promise to dilute the royal prerogative of Downing Street and return influence to the Parliament. Yes, it's a dig at Blair, but the fact that he has come out with a platform that would curb his own power in the name of Parliamentary democracy is impressive.

Now, Brown has a leadership challenger, which is well and good for internal party democracy (if not outside the party - the voters elected Labour, not a president).

There's an interesting story here about Googling Gordon Brown, but I don't think that the fact that the top search result on Brown's name is his official Treasury page rather than his leadership campaign page is actually a bad thing.

Not getting a poll surge, of course, is Helen Clark, who actually slipped behind John Key in the preferred Prime Minister category of Sunday's TV3 poll. It's not only worrying news for Labour, but also a vindication of Key's style in the face of the wailing and gnashing from nuttier elements of the National base, who assailed him across the blogosphere (and even on his own website) for his compromise on the Child Discipline Bill. I suspect those people will have some more wailing and gnashing to do yet.

There's some good discussion on yesterday's post about the Investigate story, which can hardly get more bizarre. I won't expand on it in today's post - I find these people a bit creepy, frankly.

Elsewhere, Forrester Research declares paid online video models like iTunes have no future - it's going to be all about ad support.

New New Rules from Bill Maher. I love that man.

Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS has been superb - and you can watch it in reasonable fidelity on the PBS website. Notable: The Cost of War and a balanced and informative story on Pat Robertson's law school, Regent University. Also, interviews with Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie and seasoned disbeliever Jonathan Miller.

Okay - having spent over five hours yesterday at the hospital with one of the kids (nothing at all to worry about in the end, but it was worth checking) I have some catching up with work to do ...

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