Friday, June 06, 2008


'In Office but not in Power'?

John Major today opined that forcing through the 42 day detention measure for terrorist suspects, wouold only assist their efforts to recruit new members. This led me to wonder if Gordon has not yet reached that premier's alleged condition of being 'in office but not in power'. Norman Lamont's famous accusation cut to the quick at the time and was a bit rich coming from someone so complicit in Major's administration's shortcomings.

A definition of the term would probably mean 'a total loss of direction, authority and ability to secure desired measures'. How does Gordon shape up?

1. Direction: even Labour MPs are complaining their party seems not to know what it is for, citing the 10p tax band abomination and the loss of Crewe and Nantwich.

2. Authority: Brown's government has been challenged on a number of items- non doms, fuel tax- and the white flag has not been long in being hauled up. If he does not watch out it will become open season with each and every lobby playing up in its efforts to extract its pound of flesh.

3. Securing Measures: Brown has clearly got the jitters over the 42 day issue and a compromise has been cobbled together by Chief Whip Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw. Even allowing for adjustments which draw its sting, the measure might be lost as up to 50 rebels are possible in the 'no' lobby. This will be a big test of Brown's remaining credibility. To be honest, I've also suspected some of the rebels might wish to defeat Gordon as a means of pushing him further to a position when he can be pushed aside.

On top of all this the poll results are grisly; ther recent Yougov one produced the following:

* Labour on 23%, lower than when Foot was leader and lower than any reading since Gallup started guaging party popularity in 1943.

* Brown's personal rating at a miserable 17%.

* Only 15% of those surveyed were satisfied with Mr Brown - the same as during the worst years of the Major administration in the early 1990s.

All this suggests that even if Brown has not yet sunk to Major's level, he is, to imagine a quote: 'not inconsiderably plumbing very similar depths'.

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