Friday, December 08, 2006
Brown Likely to be 'Formidable Leader'?
'But a great Prime Minister needs political genius. So far we don't know if Brown has it. Within a few months he may prove to be a character too inflexible, too inward and just too serious for the top job.'
On the other hand 'we could possibly have the most formidable leader in many years.' Which is it likely to be? Well I have to confess to being agnostic to highly dubious on this one, for the following reasons:
i) Those hoping for a brand new direction from Brown are likely to be diappointed. His record shows he is probably as much a believer in 'Blairite' New Labourism as the progenitor himself. Creating the US-private sector leaning right of centre approach was a joint project- indeed, the most flagrant example, PFI, was Gordon's personal enthusiasm.
ii) Everything Brown has done during his recent 'charm offensive' with pictures of him and his children and flattering image enhancing articles, seem to have left voters cold. The fact is he lacks the one quality-wit, a gift for lightness of touch, self deprecation, in other words charm- Tony has in juggernaut lorry loads.
iii) Brown's performance earlier this autumn, when he appeared to be choreographing a putsch against his leader did not reveal him a good light.
iv) Further to the last piont, Charles Clarke's extraordinary broadside against Brown's lack of collegiallity and other failings must have been rooted in some sort of reality along with the judgement, attributed to John Hutton, that he would make a 'fucking terrible prime minister'.
v) Finally, and most importantly, Polly doesn't stress sufficiently where we are in the broader political cycle. Once we'd had Tories for a decade the experience was more than beginning to pall. So it is with Labour. Under Tony, Labour has already enjoyed its 'salad days' and voters are already limbering up for someone new. And Gordon is by no means new.
To reverese all these negatives Brown will indeed need to be a political genius and, whilst I sincerely hope I'm wrong, I don't believe he is anywhere near being one.
I've posted previously on how Brown's advisers could easily turn his weaknesses to their advantage - I wouldn't be surprised if within a few months of him taking over we start to get 'leaks' about how frustrated Gordon always was with the image-obsessed, personality-driven politics of the Blair era. This would both distance himself from Blair and be an implied criticism of Cameron.
His advisers surely know they'll never do the 'ordinary bloke' thing better than Dave and so they won't even try - they'll happily let Cameron don the 'Blair's heir' outfit. This way the 'time for a change' factor you allude to might actually work in Brown rather than Cameron's favour
Your sugestion that Brown and Cameron might transpose their positions in the eyes of the electorate with the latter seeming to be like Blair-and thus disadavantaged- and Brown a differentiated version of himself is neat but too fanciful for me to accept as possible.
i've also heard rumours that he wants to rework the ministries, merging some and creating others, and that his ideas are best laid out in the donald dewey (sp?) memorial lecture he gave.
as for charles clarke's comments, see my blog in a couple of hours time from this post, as i have some news to report on that.
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