Will this impede Brown’s election momentum?
Reproduced here is the front page of this morning’s Times showing the lead story which won’t please Number 10. For Labour’s new leader is accused of “rehashing old phrases from Bill Clinton and Al Gore without attribution in his first speech to a Labour conference as Prime Minister”.
The report describes a study of Brown conference speech on Monday which “shows a marked similarity between parts of Mr Brownâ€™s speech and big set-piece speeches of Democrat leaders” and goes on to list a number of similar phrases and ideas.
Brown’s speech is also said to have followed a similar format and the paper reports that parts may have been crafted by Bob Schrum who worked for both Gore and Clinton and who has been a regular recent visitor to Downing Street.
So what? – you might say. Who cares? – the story is hardly likely to become the talking point in pubs this evening. Yet as the 1988 Democratic hopeful, Joe Biden, will testify things like this can seriously de-rail a campaign.
It will be recalled that Biden’s standard stump speech included the phrase â€œWhy is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife . . . is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright…? ..” This was an almost direct copy of Neil Kinnock’s 1987 election rhetoric.
For me the most interesting element is that, in its early editions at least, the Times is leading on the story thus ensuring that it might get picked up by other parts of the media.
Could this be another shot across Labour’s bows from Rupert Murdoch? He can’t allow Brown to get so far ahead that he doesn’t need the media magnate’s support any more.
Brown has had such an exceptionally good first quarter that a real danger is the so called media narrative changing. And if that happens then all talk of a 2007 election may come to an end.
Conservative party watchers might note that the ever present opposition attack dog, Chris Grayling, is quoted by the paper putting the boot in. As I’ve discussed before he is the Tory to follow and might just be a future leadership candidate.