Peter Hoskin

Brown’s press conference - live blog

Text settings
Comments

Right, let's try again. Hopefully this will be a more substantive live blog than the one covering Michael Martin's 33-second special earlier.  Stay tuned from 1730 on.

1732: You can watch it live here.  There's still no Brown yet, so you'll have to put up with Downing Street muzak for now.

1735: Right, here's Brown now.  He kicks off saying that the Speaker (remember him?) has chaired a meeting between the party leaders on expenses, and will reveal what came out of that shortly.

1737: Now Brown's reeling off his plans for expenses.  He says that we need "immediate action" - which kinda contradicts his "wait for the Kelly Review" stance of last week. Then, things we've heard already: that an independent panel will sift through expense claims; wrongdoers will be punished etc.

1739: Brown says the "basis" of the new system needs to be a shift from "internal regulation" to "independent regulation".  He repeats a line about how Parliament can't be a "gentlemans' club," that he first deployed in his NotW article at the weekend.  Bullingdon undertones?

1742: Now he's listing the powers that an independent body would have, including that to set MPs' pay.

1743: Plenty on this independent panel - which is all well and good - but making thinks transparent for the public is probably the best solution.

1744: Questions now. Nick Robinson asks whether Michael Martin is being made a scapegoat.  And then asks whether Martin will step down from his seat.

1745: And there's that "gentlemans' club" line again.  He couldn't be trying to push a subtle "Tory toff" line?  Could he?

1746: Brown's really struggling to make it seem like he's taken the lead on expenses.  He says that he's "really pleased" that his "proposal" for more independent scrutiny has been met with "broad agreement" from the other party leaders.

1748: Brown won't be drawn on the cases of Jacqui Smith, Margaret Moran, Hazel Blears etc.  He's having trouble with questions about what he means by saying Labour MPs will be deselected if they "break the rules".

1750: The key problem with Brown's approach: he says that Hazel Blears hasn't "broken the rules of the House of Commons".  I think it's safe to say that those rules have been discredited by now.

1752: How quickly Brown has reduced this issue into a couple of weary set phrases: "Self regulation vs indpendent regulation," "This is a problem for all Parliament" etc.

1755: So far, Brown has called Hazel Blears and Margaret Moran's actions "unacceptable".  But he still cites the Parliamentaty rules.

1756: Brown's having a me, me, me moment: "It was me who put forward proposals before the Daily Telegraph articles were published; it was me who proposed a new system for expenses ...."

1758: Brown says that he's spoken to the Sri Lankan premier, encouraging him to negotiate with the Tamils.

1759: Brown, when asked whether he'd pay any of his expenses back: "I believe that I've done the right thing."

1800: The Sun's George Pascoe-Watson asks Brown why he won't call a general election. Brown's reponse: "If I were the Sun, I'd campaign to make changes to the system itself."  Hm.

1802: Brown: "The Speaker has given decades of public service ... I think that, in reflection, people will want to thank the Speaker for what he's done."  What?!  Disgracing his role, and playing a part in dragging Parliament into disrepute?

1804: He's not mentioning the Tories, but it's clear what dividing line Brown is drawing here.  He says that the public will appreciate him "putting party politics to one side".  Yep, and he'll use that line to attack the Tories soon enough.

1807
: Brown's aksed whether he'll have any "moral authority" in future, when he talks to other countries about their systems of government.  His repsonse? "Self regulation ... independent, statutory regulation..." yadda, yadda, yadda.

1809: "We're undertaking radical surgery."

1810: "Old Boys' Club" has cropped up now.  Someone needs to put together a "Brown on expenses" bingo card...

1811: Brown's got a stock repsonse to implictily critical questions: "You're making this an issue of government, when it's an issue of Parliament."  In other words: not my fault, guv.

1812: Hooray! Brown has reverted to his usual stock phrases, saying that the Government are doing "eveything they can" to deal with the economic crisis.

1813: More "me, me, me" from Brown.  He says that "Prime Ministers haven't tradtionally involved themselves in [the expenses system] ... I'm the first to put proposals directly to the House of Commons."

1815:
Yawn.

1817: Brown congratulates Manmohan Singh on his election victory - "he's a very good friend of mine".  And says that the UK is concentrating on the "crucible of terror" in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, and the "Alky Aida" presence there.

1819:
And that's it.  In a word: unconvincing.