Update: As the Times Online reported earlier this morning, Gordon Brown has since decided to resign as leader of the Labour party. Here is the full text version of his resignation speech
What if you threw an election and nobody won?
What if everybody lost?
That is exactly what’s happened in Britain where the only absolute winners from last Thursday’s election are the UK Greens who won their first seat in Parliament.
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The more air-headed exponents of social media have had a busy time of it this week, trying to transform Melbourne comedian Catherine Deveny into a cause celebre for the anti-censorship cause.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, all the hoopla about the British poll being “the first twitter election” has evaporated as the campaign has turned on the work of traditional journalism and conventional public discourse.
It hasn’t been a great week for social media. Despite its many benefits – sharing content with like-minded people, engaging in conversation about topics of mutual interest – two of its key limitations have been laid bare by these unrelated events.
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Gordon Brown made not one, but two public gaffes in his exchange with Gillian Duffy. The first was to be caught describing the pensioner as a bigot in the first place. A politician as experienced as Gordon Brown should know better than to forget that he was wired.
Brown’s second gaffe was to spend 40 minutes apologising to the pensioner after his words were played back to him during a radio interview. No doubt his media minders regarded this as a necessary piece of damage control, a last-ditch effort to contain an already disastrous situation. That might have been the intent, but the apology just left him looking meal-mouthed, amateurish and weak.
The better option — and the thing that a true politician would have done — would have been to own up to his words and defend his beliefs.
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I’ve never joined a political party: but a long time ago I did run as a political party candidate. For the space of two weeks, in a school mock-election, I tried to get the votes of my fellow-pupils for the British Liberal Party.
It was 1966 – the year England won the World Cup, the first year of Swinging London, the year of “Good Vibrations”, “Nowhere Man” and “Paint It Black”. Prime Minister Harold Wilson was running for re-election against the new Conservative leader Ted Heath, but I couldn’t have cared less.
I was a spotty fourteen-year-old, at school in central London. There were plenty in my class itching to stand for Labour or the Tories, but no-one wanted to be the Liberal, so I was “volunteered” to stand for the one party that was certain to lose.
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