Alex Massie

Brown’s Pointless Victory

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It's a measure of Gordon Brown's weakness that he's come so close to losing the vote on 42 Days. But, as Ben Brogan reports, he's done it:

The DUP are on board, Diane Abbott has been spoken to by Gordon Brown for the first time in 20 years, cash for sick miners and help for Cuba has been whistled out of nowhere, and so the vote is won. I spoke to David Davis earlier, who knows a thing or two about whipping and numbers. The 54 Labour rebels he knew about on Friday were down to 44 last night, and the DUP will support Mr Brown. At that rate the game is up.

But what use is this shabby triumph? The DUP and other rebels have been bribed and everyone knows that the government has retreated in a shambles, all order and discipline lost. They made it home eventually but it was a damn close run thing. It won't matter much in the long run because this is a broken, beaten government. But it's still a disgrace that this bill will pass and, beyond being a useful reminder of this government's mendacious huckterism and cavalier disregard for ancient liberties, the only useful thing to come from the whole sorry process was the Tories' pretty firm pledge to repeal this bill when they win the next election. That said, whatever remained of Gordon Brown's political capital has nw been spent. And to what end?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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