Down Under, they've forgotten the difference between the Brownites and the Blairites

John McTernan was only peripherally part of the Brown Government. Under Labour, Tony and Gordon both had their own camps - as he knows better than most
  • @andymcsmith

Make sure you know your Blairite from your Brownie

The same argument is raging on opposite sides of the globe – how much of the cost of escaping from recession should be paid by the wealthy? Nick Clegg has felt the full force of the fury of the Daily Mail for suggesting that the “top 10 per cent” must pay an increased share of tax. “Clegg: Soak the Middle Class” was yesterday’s front-page headline. “This is simply oppressive, offensive and utterly indefensible,” declared that paper’s intrepid columnist, Melanie Phillips.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been accused by the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, of engaging in “class war” with middle earners. Yesterday, Mr Abbott named the political adviser who is supposedly masterminding this strategy. He is John McTernan, a former Downing Street political adviser, who moved to Australia to work for Ms Gillard in 2011.

“He was part of the Brown government in Britain, and the Brown government basically played the class-war card as hard as it could, every day up until its defeat,” Mr Abbott told the Sydney radio station 2GB. “It seems that ever since he has arrived that has been the practice of the Gillard government, to play the class war card, to attack so-called billionaires.”

Mr Abbott has missed a nuance of British politics. McTernan was only peripherally “part of the Brown government”. He moved from Downing Street to the Scottish Office as soon as Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. He was a Blairite, not a Brownie. Here in the UK, we do not usually associate Blairites with class war against the rich.


Chief Whip’s apology very poorly placed

The instant before Andrew Mitchell delivered his second apology early yesterday for abusing a police officer at the Downing Street gate, the camera showed him getting out of his chauffeur-driven car to speak to the waiting hacks in Whitehall. Where the car halted, the road is very clearly marked in large letters “Bus Stop”. As many motorists know to their cost, stopping at a bus stop, especially in London, can mean a £60 fine or worse. Somebody should investigate.


So hard to get a round of golf

“Would you have a man who behaves like Mr Mitchell in your golf club – No!” said a reader’s letter in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.

You might be living  in the wrong place

Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal CentreForum think-tank, found fame in the summer of 2008 as the “barmy boffin” who suggested that the solution to unemployment in Northern cities was to clear out residents.

“If we really want to give people in Liverpool, Sunderland and so on the opportunities that people in most parts of the South-east take for granted, we need to let many of them move to the South-east,” he wrote.

Dr Leunig is starting a new job in two weeks as policy adviser to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove. So, if you live in Liverpool and cannot find a decent school for your child, do not be surprised if Mr Gove tells you it is your own fault for not living in Letchworth.


Think before criticising Ukip

A lively moment at the UK Independence Party’s conference last weekend was when its leader, Nigel Farage, walked on stage to the sound of “Killing in the Name”, by Rage Against the Machine, blaring through the loudspeakers. But the reaction from Rage’s guitarist, Tim Morello, was, well, rage against Ukip. “Stop using ‘KILLING IN THE NAME’ for ur racist/rightwing rallies. We are against everything u stand for. STOP. IT” he tweeted.

Ukip provoked a similar reaction this time last year from the Burnley-based band Chumbawamba by making similar use of their song “Tubthumping”. The band put out a statement saying: “Nigel Farage is an arse. His party is made up of bigots and its policies are racist.” But it has since broken up, prompting Farage to reply to Morello, via Twitter: “Remember what happened to Chumbawamba shortly after they moaned at Ukip?” Touché.