Is the opposition right to focus on the man and not policies?
It’s becoming apparent, as the 2007 political year comes to a close, that both the Tories and Lib Dems have managed to make the big issue not a particular policy or strategic direction but Gordon Brown himself.
Almost as though they were acting in tandem both David Cameron and Lib Dem stand-in, Vince Cable, have launched lob after lob against Gordon’s personality and judging by the way events are being reported they are having success.
The Brown Lisbon debacle would have had nothing of the potency if it did not chime with what many are talking about. The TV coverage of Thursday should be very worrying for Downing Street.
Patrick Wintour in the Guardian this morning quotes an unnamed shadow cabinet member (George Osborne perhaps?) as being unrepentant at Cameron’s decision to use the final PMQs the year to lob a series of insults hurled at the PM , culminating in “2007 – the year Brown got found out”.
The shadow cabinet member said: “They would love us to move it on to policy on children or on welfare or on anything. We just want to keep it on his leadership.” The Conservative strategy is to hit Brown as hard as possible for as long as possible until he is so damaged he cannot recover. Once Brown is broken, the government is broken.
In many way Gordon makes himself an easy target for Cameron’s vicious verbal assaults or Cable’s brilliant wit. Brown finds it very difficult being criticised at any time and when this takes place in a highly public arena like the commons he does not react well.
Humour would be the best defence but Gord never appears convincing when he tries this. His attempt on Wednesday to allude to the many Lib Dem leadership contests produced the best crack of the day from Cable
Judging by the polls the opposition strategies seem to be working. As well as the huge changes in voting intentions all the pollsters have found sharp declines in Brown’s personal ratings.
There is a danger for the Tories and Lib Dems that this approach cannot go on forever and they look shallow. For the moment, however, Brown looks increasingly vulnerable.