Wednesday, October 17, 2007

 

Fallout from Gordon's 'Black Saturday' Continues


Gordon Brown's horrendous misjudgement over the election that never was has had a number of direct consequences. Firstly it has threatened his leadership credentials and placed a question mark behind his chances of winning the next election and, even, if he will still be the leader going into it. Secondly it has delivered a swingeing advantage to Cameron, which he used to such devastating effect last Wednesday at PMQs, though today honours were more even in a more typical contest. Thirdly it exposed poor old Ming Campbell to the point that he felt forced to resign. Already in trouble following on from poor poll showings, the thought of Ming, on the cusp of 70 leading his party into a 2009 election was too much to bear and this modest and decent man stood down.

Which raises the question of appearance in politics. An American political scientist has suggested Abraham Lincoln's jutting lower jaw would have excluded him from serious consideration as a modern presidential candidate; Robin Cook himself recognised he was insufficiently good looking to ever become leader-though this seemed not to cramp his style as the most unlikely of Lotharios. Ming was apparently too old to make the cut but had his deputy, Vince Cable, been leader, would his 64 years have been held against him? No, it was because Ming looked so old that he was judged not fit for purpose.

Now the two candidates to succeed him, Huhne and Clegg are held to be near identical in background and beliefs. However, Huhne is judged the 'less charismatic' by most commentators; this being a euphemism for good looking. Clegg, with his cleaner cut good looks and slightly sexy hairstyle will get the nod, I predict, proving just how superficial our political culture has become. And there is one more consequence from this consequence too: Gordon, by comparison with Cameron or Clegg with look both old, boring and, most definitely 'less charismatic'.

Comments:
I really don't think the 'bottler Brown' tag will stick until 2009. If the Tories kept playing that record it would sound very old by then.

The Lib Dems are bound to bounce back after Ming, but they will eat into the Tory lead in the polls more than Labour support.

I see your point about Brown looking much older and less charismatic than Cameron and Clegg. But hopefully it will work in his favour. 'Not flash, just Gordon...'

PS - I'm writing this taking a short break from my reading:

Bill Jones, Dennis Kavanagh, Michael Moral, Philip Norton Politics UK p.138-147
 
"'Not flash, just Gordon"

- the next Labour party slogan, surely? It's genius.
 
Commissar(I love the name and the image it conjures up)
Pleased to hear your reading is so self improving...
SPL
Is the slogan the work of Commissar? Seems I've read it before and it may be the product of a journo or Gordon's spin machine.
 
Hi Skipper,
Not so sure that in the longer term style will win over substance.
There is a huge difference between intelligence and wisdom, and while the ‘young turks’ may be extremely intelligent they clearly lack a healthy dose of wisdom. That is why Brown finished up in such a pickle while those not so far from puberty hyped up the election.
The youngsters have the short term advantage (really media inspired) I’m sure that in the longer term people want the reassurance of a safe ‘wise’ pair of hands.
If you take a look at the Blair years, the last thing people should want is his re-incarnation, particularly with problems still brewing in Iran. You hear many commentators saying that Iraq is no longer the issue which may be true but if the country wants to ensure nothing like that (or even Afghanistan) happens again then they should look for an older, wiser leader.
The Lib Dems may take a short term gain but in the longer term they need be more cautious and get someone who can sell the notion that experience is a very good thing.
If you want a politician to run the country by all means go for youth, however if you want a Statesman to run it they should look higher up the age range. It would be an interesting question to ask who is the better politician, Ming or the Boy David (I’m sure the latter would win handsomely), however if you asked who looked (and acts) the better Statesman I’m not so sure you’d get the same answer - the same goes for Brown. It’s all in the marketing.
 
Just looked it up, apparently Saatchi came up with it only a month or so ago.
 
Sam
Trust a superficial advertising man to come up with such a good soundbite line. Mind you, don't the sodding Saatchis work for Gordon now?
 
I know I am out of step on this but I thought that although Brown obviously took a kicking at PMQ's a fortnight ago, he did fairly well (of course he lacks Blair's sure-footedness, and as I think Jackie Ashley said it would have been smarter to admit that the polls did play a role in deciding not to call an election). But vulgar Tory triumphalism was not a pleasant sight and I suspect I am not the only person who thinks so. By contrast, I thought last Wednesday Brown was poor. He seems to get simple things wrong. Why is he looking at the Speaker instead of the sodding camera? Seems like an elementary mistake for a professional (I know he is supposed to address his remarks through the Speaker, but honestly...). A colleague at work thinks part of the problem is that he "needs a Campbell" i.e. someone who will tell him when he gets it wrong (prefaced by numerous Anglo-Saxon epithets). He needs a Balls a lot less than a shrewd consigliere with balls).
 
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