The Agony of Gordon Brown


Today is, to be honest, a pretty slow news day in US politics. But it’s a huge news day in UK politics. Basically, Gordon Brown’s Labour Party had been unpopular. Then came the financial crisis, which has really hammered the UK, where London’s financial sector is a huge portion of the economy. Then on top of that has come some scandals about MPs abusing their expenses. And then most recently, Labour got absolutely wiped out in local elections. So now a bunch of ministers are resigning, Brown is reshuffling his cabinet and vowing to fight on, but realistically coming under increasing pressure to step down so that Labour can try to find some way to put a new face forward rather than march onward into what looks to be certain electoral apocalypse.

At any rate, spending some time reading about this is a powerful reminder of what the emerging information ecology looks like. The cable networks that we keep on in the office seem to have been covering this story not at all, even though it’s clearly more newsworthy than the latest iteration of “hey! look at what Rush did!” But that’s the way it goes on cable. Meanwhile, thanks to the internet I’m able to read about UK news from BBC, The Guardian, British blogs, etc., and get far more detailed information about what’s happening than I ever would have been before. Banal, I know, but I think worth stepping back and thinking about.

Meanwhile, back to the UK, I suppose from an outsider’s perspective I wonder if at some point there can be a tipping point for the Liberal Democrats. I imagine a lot of people who might have some love for the Lib Dems nevertheless don’t want to “waste” a vote on a third party. But if it’s absolutely clear that the Tories will win no matter what, then that incentive seems to melt away and Labour will start polling even worse.