Thursday, March 09, 2006


Gordon not as as nice as Tony, complain Tories

I was interested to hear George Osbourne, the Shadow Chancellor has attacked Gordon Brown for being unfriendly and petty in their personal dealings. Michael Portillo weighed in on the PM Programme tonight with recollections of how Brown violates the ministerial etiquette of welcoming in opposition spokespeople and being nice to them. Boris Johnson was on too complaining that, whatever one said about 'Tony', he was a pretty decent sort of cove; but as for well!

Is it true? Friends like former adviser Neal Lawson, disagreed, describing Brown as warm, loyal and charismatic. Maybe, as Portillo suggested, Brown is one of those old-fashioned Labour types who does not hold with fraternising with the enemy. I think this is probably the truth of it. Does it matter? Not much. George is looking for a vulnerable flank and as the heat on Jowell cools down, this is just another ploy to keep the drip, drip, drip of negative news items oppositions try to keep saying about the goverment.

But it does matter a bit. Blair has changed so many things in our political culture and making the prime minister a nice, polite, moderate and well dressed kind of family centred person is included. There will be some expectation that his successor will be something like him; if not, why else have the Conservatives chosen someone who seems to have modelled himself on New Labour's political wizard? Already Brown has been keen to show he is far from the brooding, obstructive figure which the Tories seek to portray. He has married for a start and started a family with which he seems extravagantly delighted. We have recently seen the two page interview spread in the Daily Mirror in which he answered softball questions about his love of sport and Scotland. Stand by for many more similar little skirmishes as the battle ground for the next decisive election is cleared.

According to Mike Smithson, the respected commentator and organiser of political the shadow Chancellor George Osborne is the top political strategist in British politics today. Really? He (Smithson) thinks that Osborne's recent personal attacks on Brown are part of an inspired strategy to paint Gordon as difficult and unpleasant. Will it work, or could it backfire badly?

You might be interested to note that many - indeed the majority - of people that I have spoken to who knew both Cameron and Osborne when they were SPADs to Tory Ministers in the early 1990s described them as two aloof, arrogant toffs.
Well Mike
Intersting what you say but I met Osbourne last November and found him totally charming and very clever; but he is still a Tory and my tribalism tells me not to trust him.
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