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he's going to...he's not going to...he's going to...oh. he's not going to after all... - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-10-07 22:40
Subject: he's going to...he's not going to...he's going to...oh. he's not going to after all...
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Mood:indulging in schadenfreudeindulging in schadenfreude
Music:seth lakeman
Well, that was interesting. I've been going round telling everyone who seemed to be half-listening that Gordon Brown wouldn't be so crazy as to call a snap election in November - for a lot of reasons, including the electoral register wouldn't have been updated in time and the weather would probably guarantee a low turnout. But I thought he'd go in Spring next year, which he seems to have ruled out.

This might turn out to be a decisive moment in Brown's premiership. My sense is that this whole business of a snap election may have started off as something to mess with the Tories' heads, but it's backfired spectacularly. Recent opinion polls - particularly in some marginal seats (the Home Secretary's among them) - showed that one of the better outcomes for Brown would have been a hung Parliament, which would not have been the mandate he needs. So, with everyone sitting on the edge of their seats, Brown made the decision and said there wouldn't be an election this year. Nor next year. Because he wants the election to be fought on his `vision for change' rather than his competence in dealing with crises. But really, as Alex Salmond puts it, all he's done is make himself look like a big feartie.

To be honest, he had very little choice considering the poll results. Going to the country right now would have been madness. But I thought Gordon was a lot smarter than this, and I thought he was supposed to be advised by some of the brightest young political heads in the country at the moment. But they've managed to drop the ball in a quite delicious way. And I really hope the Tories and the Lib-Dems take the opportunity to beat up on him for it.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-10-08 16:10 (UTC)
Subject: it wouldn't have mattered...
The Press decided at the onset that they don't like him, so it doesn't matter what he does or does not do. Whether the good opinion of the Press is warranted or not is not the point. The point is that he and his decisions will always be presented in a bad light because the Press has already made that decision. As a journalist yourself, your last sentence speaks volumes.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-10-08 21:58 (UTC)
Subject: Re: it wouldn't have mattered...
Actually, I wasn't speaking as a journalist when I said that. If I had been, I wouldn't have let my emotions get in the way. The irony is, as a politician, I'm more in tune with Brown than with Blair - he's much more what I would recognise as a Labour politician.
But you're right, the Press have put him under the microscope - as they would if he was fresh out of Opposition, but also because of his intimate connection not only with the Blair government but the whole New Labour Project.

I don't think the Press decided to hate him from the off, although don't forget that he's not brand new in media terms; the Press has had a long time to look at him and decide what they think.
Having said that, I thought he got a relatively easy ride in his first few months. He had a lot to deal with - the terrorist attack in Glasgow and the attempted one in London, foot and mouth, the Northern Rock fiasco - and I never heard anyone calling for his head. Although there were some who noticed, especially during the foot and mouth and Northern Rock things, that he had defaulted to his old behaviour of being elsewhere when shit hit the fan and left others to deal with it, only emerging when the crisis was over to sort-of-take-credit for it. I thought he did okay, and I very much liked his unshowy style (I know, style doesn't mean anything, but it was a refreshing change from the touchy-feely media age of Blair, a return to something that felt weighty and important, not just moral cosmetics)

Brown has a reputation for being a consummate politician, an expert operator, a man of exquisite instincts. And he stumbled. I think he was trying to sow disorder in the Tory ranks - something he didn't need to do as polls before the Conference Season showed him 11 points ahead - and instead he wound up uniting the Tories against him. Faced with the possibility of an election, the Tories didn't run around like headless chickens, they (mostly) put their differences to one side and set about the task of getting ready to stand up to Labour.
Ironically, had Brown announced the election during the Tory Conference, I think that would have undone them. The news agenda would then have been all about the election, and the Tory policies that were announced which got so much attention - like raising the threshold of inheritance tax to £1 million - would have been swamped.

As it is, Labour missed the train. Brown's trip to Iraq, his announcement that troops were going to be brought home (when half of them seem to be here already, raising accusations of double-accounting - not the first time) when he'd promised he would make important announcements to Parliament first, an alteration of Parliamentary business which seemed to make room for the calling of an election - they were all taken as signifiers that he was going to go.

This whole teasing will-he-won't-he, and its rather lame aftermath, has exposed what appears to be a weakness. Now, if Brown does wait until 2009, he has plenty of time to put things right, scatter the electorate with enough sweeteners that they'll forget this little blip. But it does put something of a question-mark beside the reputation of a politician who was previously thought to be the canniest of his generation.
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