Saturday, July 07, 2007


8 out of 10 for Gordon's First Ten days

It's normal to offer an initial assessment on a new leader after 100 days but on the assumption that a week is a long time in politics, I've shortened the schedule somewhat. So how has he done? I offer four headings but you could invent many more of course.

1. Acceptance Speech in Manchester: This wasn't technically part of the 10 days, of course, but it was so close as to make no difference. Many commentators thought it prime-ministerial and impressive but I, possibly suffering from Blair eloquence withdrawal, thought it dull and full of cliches.

2. Government Building: This was adroitly handled and displayed a sure touch in terms of the signals it sent out about youth, competence and inclusiveness though he may find his party's reluctance to accept the maverick Tory, Digby Jones as a minister in the Lords an ongoing problem for a while.

3. Terror: Martin Kettle in The Guardian today suggests the botched terror attempts have done Brown a favour in that they have enabled him to be tested without the additional element of dead British bodies. Kettle points out that Brown and his new Home Secretary have quietened the rhetoric to excellent effect but have not essentially changed the Blair position on relations with the US or the war in Iraq.

4. PMQs: Some people have claimed that Macmillan's mastery of the House at PMQs enabled his reputation to be filtered down via the political editors to the public at large and helped found the basis of his 'Super-Mac' reputation. It's fairly clear this no longer works- if it ever did- as Hague regularly bested Blair at PMQs but lost the 2001 election. But, to be seen to have authority within the politcal system and the country at large it is necessary for a PM to be in charge of the House and PMQs are part, if a small one, of this challenge. I have to confess that I was in a minority in thinking Gordon's debut was competently 'prime-ministerial overall apart from the apparent ompalint about 'only been in the job 5 days' and the clip around the ear he received, unexpectedly from his friend Ming Campbell. Maybe the jousting is so close that any slip or gaffe results in s 'defeat' or maybe his less than bullishly confident tone produced a general verdict of 'poor'.

So overall, this teacher's verdict is, '8 out of 10: pretty good for your first ten days Gordon, but you need to work harder at your PMQs.'

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