Sunday, June 24, 2007


Competent but Dull Gordon Turns Down Volume

I'm not sure if you were impressed by Gordon's first speech as leader but I wasn't especially. The likes of Blunkett praised it but only about as half-heartedly as the audience listened. The content was the usual mix of rhetoric and promises to deliver across the social gamut but the delivery was so lack lustre I could only conclude it was deliberate: no smiles except at the end and barely any humour to leaven the heavy drone of Labourspeak.

If Tony Blair was 9 out of ten as a communicator then Gordon, on this showing, merits about four and a half. Shots of the audience showed them staring gamely into the middle distance, occasionally forcing a feeble flap of applause. I do hope he'll improve but this effort merely reminded us how Blair could make the words sing and the hearts lift. Maybe Gordon was brooding on the Independent's story that Blair planned to sack Brown immediately after the 2005 election. This would have removed Brown from the 'heir-apparent' role of Chancellor and ended his grip on domestic policy. But it was not to be:

Labour slipped in the polls, Gordon Brown did a deal not only to keep his job, but to have a say in the post-election reshuffle, in effect anointing him as Mr Blair's successor.

It's easy to forget how crucial Brown's initial refusal to campaign and then his eventual agreement was to Labour's victory back then. If Blair had been able to sustain the fight on his own, he might well have still been at the helm. But recall it was voters' desire to see them together which drew him back in. Brown on his own is still an unknown quantity electorally but if today's speech is anything to go by, he needs to sharpen up his act.

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