Can he mount an effective fight-back from the election retreat?
One of the things that we don’t really know about Gord is how he’ll respond when he is under fire. For almost throughout his career he has managed to avoid public situations where he’s faced a severe grilling.
During his time at the Treasury Brown always stood back and let members of his team put themselves forward when the difficult issues, like the level of fraud in the tax credit system, came to the fore. Criticism, it is said, is something he finds difficult to handle.
So the climb-down after the no election decision was devised as an exclusive interview recorded for the Andrew Marr show on BBC1 – a decision which has made the news teams at ITV news and Sky absolutely furious which has been reflected in their weekend coverage. Marr is certainly not in the Paxman league and surely the right person for the BBC interview was the corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson?
As luck would have it there’s one of his monthly Downing Street press conference scheduled for today and later he will be appearing before MPs when he makes his Commons Iraq statement. So the story is not going to die down.
A more general problem that is becoming increasingly apparent is the weakness presentationally of Brown’s front bench team. There’s nobody left of the calibre of John Reid, Charles Clark or even David Blunkett who can come over effectively when the going gets hard. Darling, Smith, Balls and the Miliband brothers are not in the same league. The only big hitter left is Jack Straw who is stuck running the justice system.
In the betting there’s been a sharp move against Labour on the spread markets where punters buy and sell the number of seats the party will get next time as though they were stocks and shares. From a peak of Labour getting 338 seats just nine days ago IG and Sporting Index are quoting 307 and 306 seats respectively as the buy level. For those wanting to sell the prices are 300 and 301 seats.