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Could British politics be ready for a Brawn breakthrough?

May 25th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by






The sporting sensation of 2009 has been the astonishing performance of the new Brawn GP Formula One team.  Ross Brawn formed the outift from the ashes of the Honda franchise, and it only officially came into existence this March. Six weeks later, Brawn are running away with both the constructors and the drivers championship. Jenson Button started the season as a 300/1 rank outsider to finish as F1’s top driver, he is now a 1/3 nailed-on favourite, having taken the chequered flag in five of the first six races of the season.

Brawn GP have come from nowhere to shatter an establised duopoly.

The red half of this duopoly – Ferrari – have been especially dominant for the last decade, but now look like they may exit the sport all together. The other half – McLaren – have been immersed in career-ending scandals verging on farce (although seem to be able to dredge their own moats).

With psephological experts predicting more than half of incumbent MPs will be removed or defeated within the next twelve months, the parallels with the present political crisis are just too delicious to ignore.

Could a 300/1 outsider come from absolutely nowhere and sweep away a tired and jaded duopoly? At the moment, much concern is focused on the opportunities for the hard right. But isn’t the truth that the wider public are desperate for something – almost anything – that is markedly different from the current political order? This must represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for  a genuinely radical, liberal, reforming agenda. If the LibDems can’t or won’t seize this chance, somebody or something else surely will.

26 Responses to “Could British politics be ready for a Brawn breakthrough?”

  1. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘If the LibDems can’t or won’t seize this chance, somebody or something else surely will.’

    Yeah the f**king BNP

    I’ve been warning for years about the rise of the BNP & I’ve often been called a kook, ywt they’re about to upset the political establishment come next week.

  2. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Ziggy, you take my quote slightly out of context. I don’t think the BNP are likely to put forward a radical, liberal agenda. They may do well on June 4th because of a crie de coeur from the eelctorate, but my point is that an overwhelming block of the electorate (80%? 90%?) would never vote BNP, but are still interested in an alternative to the establishment parties.

  3. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘I don’t think the BNP are likely to put forward a radical, liberal agenda.’

    No but they’re likely to upset the political establishment as it is

    ‘an overwhelming block of the electorate (80%? 90%?) would never vote BNP’

    But there’s a growing number of Chavs who will

    Okay yes overwhelming majority of people who’d not vote BNP howevver here’s another stat for you 80% of the electotrate didn’t vote Labour at the last general election.

    Plus do you remember the Euro election of 1989?

    It was the elections where the Greens got a bump & the consequence was that the three major parties started to jump on the green bandwagon.

  4. Neil Stockley Says:

    ‘If the Lib Dems can’t or won’t seize this chance, somebody or something else surely will.’

    Can you take us back to basics sometime: starting from where we are now, how should the Lib Dems seize this chance?

  5. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Here’s a clue

    limited government
    free markets
    greater individual liberty

    the classical liberal way which nobody is offering right now

  6. Mark Littlewood Says:


    In terms of concrete steps, here’s a few (off-the-top-of-my-head) suggestions:

    1. Press ahead VERY swiftly with the investigations into our Parliamentarians so they can all be cleared (or told to stand aside) in pretty short order.

    2. Make a big noise about doing this (e.g. don’t release the decisions made by the FE on a Monday night on the following Friday)

    3. Consider the possibility of holding some – or all – of these hearings in public.

    4. Consider the possibility of calling in independent advisers (e.g. Martin Bell) to assist with this enquiry.

    5. Refocus on constitutional reform as a top campaigning prioirty – leaflets, PPBs etc., would all be chock-a-block full of our agenda on these matters.

    6. Couch all of this within a new, properly branded campaign slogan that will echo through the website, campaign materials, press backdrops, TV interviews by spokespeople etc. (along the lines of “Don’t just change the faces, change the whole goddamned system”).

    7. Slam the Tories for being opposed to any meaningful reform beyond that of the expenses system.

    8. Open lines of communication with mainstream independent electoral players (Bell, Rantzen, Jury Team etc), explicitly consider the possibility of electoral pacts.

  7. Simon Says:

    The only way you could seize this chance is by getting rid of every LibDem MP and starting over. No one trusts the current LibDems due to the EU Referendum betrayal.

    The Conservatives and Labour have the same chance and I reckon any party who makes a clean sweep will win the next election. The trouble is that none of them will. It is a completely even chance at the moment. Which party is clean at the moment? Back to the BNP again, they have an excellent chance due to being unsullied by any of the current corruption and sleaze.

    How can Cameron, Clegg or Brown possibly gain the trust of the electorate when they’ve all been at it themselves?

  8. Mark Littlewood Says:


    I’m not sure it’s as black and white as that.

    See :

  9. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Hey looks like Cameron is going to stir the pot by pledging to parliamentry reforms including fix term elections!

  10. Jock Says:

    And here was me thinking that you meant the parallel to be “operating on a shoestring and with no sponsors to speak of”…:)

    That would be a very good paradigm for government – slash the historical deadweight in budgets and eradicate all the corporate welfare.

    Which of our potential drivers, a no-hoper for ten years or whatever is just waiting for such a new paradigm in government to flourish and show his or her real talents I wonder?

  11. Jock Says:

    Though if there really are more than half the new house are novices, I suppose it could be the “Virgin Parliament”…:)

  12. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Following up on my recommendations, above, on comms strategy.

    Scratch point 7.

    Cameron has come up with something that amounts to at least a half-baked plan. Although, he’s wrong on FPTP (natch)

  13. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Jock – intriguing further parallels! Cool idea to see if Branson will pay to have the Virgin logo splashed on the Houses of Parliament too!

  14. Anton Howes Says:

    “a genuinely radical, liberal, reforming agenda”

    Well that certainly sounds familiar! 😉

  15. Wayne Lawrence Says:

    “how should the Lib Dems seize this chance”

    The Lib Dems are a party with cognitive dissonance. How can a party have classical liberal AND social democratic wings and maintain a cogent policy drive.

    We can’t seize anything because the electorate sees us as duplicitous. Let’s have more civil liberties, but let’s ban Geert Wilders and let’s subjugate our sovereignty to Europe.

    To seize any chance the party must turn more completely orange IMO.

  16. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘How can a party have classical liberal AND social democratic wings and maintain a cogent policy drive.’

    Its a good question

    I guess the answer is like all political parties the Lib Dems are a broad church.

  17. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Question for Mark

    Do you think Cameron now pledging constitutional change isn’t just a reaction to the expenses scandal but a ploy to steal Lib Dem votes?

  18. Wayne Lawrence Says:

    Can a broad church be too broad though? All parties have their factions, but people in this party can be on completely different planets, some are like oooooooold labour, whereas as others are libertarians.

  19. Jock Says:

    I tend to agree with Mark though, a “broadd church” is fine when, say, you are all essentially statists, with a difference of degree, but if “Liberal” in my sense had a fundamental clash with “Democrat” as I believe it has then it is much more difficult.

    When I wrote my piece on Friday or whenever about the BNP and democracy, it was suggested, and I probably agree, that democracy at a very small level – a few streets or a very local council, could be fine.

    Our preamble says that we will strive to bring decision making as close to the people affected as possible. And that that is a fundamental party and liberal ideal. Some of us would argue that, in virtually all cases, the “closest possible” means leaving the decision to the individual, but I am sure there is middle ground here.

    The reformation ought to start with the assumption that we do not in fact need a Westminster, or national government if we do things right at a more local level, for me, a very local level.

    If a Westminster parliament only ever had powers explicitly delegated to it by lower level authorities who felt a particular issue was something they should all collaborate on finding a solution to and would need to be enforced nationally, then it can exist, but it would be very different than today.

    “General competency” should be reserved to the very lowest level of local neighbourhood council where something they want done can be discussed in pubs and coffee mornings around the estate before the local council does anything about it, the centralization of power high up any chain should be a very specific (and time bound) mandate from lower levels, renewed periodically and from which lower levels can secede on a paritcular issue if they feel they can do better.

  20. Ziggy Encaoua Says:


    Well I have been heard to mutter that social democrats should f**k off back to the Labour party.

    Funny enough I was looking thorough some old Liberal Party manifestos the other day

    I quote from the 1974 manifesto

    ‘Break-up monopolistic concentrations of political and economic power so that individual initiative is not suppressed’

  21. Mark Littlewood Says:

    In reply to Ziggy, I may be giving him too much credit, but I think that Cameron does actually believe what he says. He also has the advantage over us in communications terms that virtually any Tory commitment to constitutional reform is news, whereas we have supported the whole kit and cboodle for donkey’s years.

  22. Jock Says:

    Ziggy, I maintain that the mid-later twetieth century Liberal Party was pretty well a mutualist manifesto, with Land Value Tax and Ownership for All in particular being highly mutualist sort of policies.

    However by the time of the merger itself, if anything the Liberals were probably to the statist left of the SDP types.

    It’s not “Democrat” in the send of “Social Democrat” I find incompatible, but “democracy” itself.

  23. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Well Jock JS Mill did warn against the tyranny of the majority

  24. Jock Says:

    Little perhaps did he realize that it would be so rare to have a tyranny of the majority as opposed to a tyranny of the minority. He also had some fairly clear ideas about the boundaries of government competence.

    Besides, what has that to do with what I said last?

  25. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Well you have a problem with democracy & I’d say many a liberal would on the basis that a majority of people can impose upon a minority even if the minority is doing no wrong.

  26. OmniF1 » A Little Bit of Cable and Brawn Love Says:

    […] they come up with a post that compares the way Ross Brawn seized the day to form his new Formula 1 team and come from nowhere […]