Should Brown be worrying about the Clarke onslaughts?

Should Brown be worrying about the Clarke onslaughts?

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    Could the Prime Minister really “obliterate Labour?”

While all the focus that has been on the US elections we have not really looked at the growing attacks on Gordon Brown from his long-standing foe within the Labour movement, Charles Clarke.

In an interview with Petronella Wyatt in the Daily Mail this weekend the former Home Secretary and still-loyal Blairite issues one broadside after another against his party leader.

Wyatt writes: …..Clarke now accuses Gordon Brown of not having ‘the confidence of the country’, of being ‘controlling’, ‘dithering’ and presiding over a third-rate Cabinet. He tells me: “The Prime Minister cannot bear anyone who challenges him.” He also believes that voters are in danger of ‘seeing David Cameron as having more sense of direction’ than Brown, who, he argues, lives in a world of unreality, constantly ‘tormented’ by the “idea of Tony Blair’… it’s a strange, tormented thing. It’s almost a love-hate thing. He wants to be anti-Blair rather than post-Blair. He wants to revisit things Blair did, like casinos and cannabis….The art of politics is about fast reactions. When something comes along, you have to respond very quickly or it runs away from you. You saw it with David Cameron over MPs’ expenses when he was out, very fast, dealing with the situation. Gordon must stop being a ditherer. He lacks courage. He looks at his papers, dithers and isn’t sure.”

Clarke, of course, can be portrayed as a bitter ex-cabinet minister whose ambitions were thwarted when he was fired after the foreign prisoner release fiasco in 2006. But the challenge for Gordon is if some of what Clarke is saying resonates within parts of the party.

A lot of course depends on the opinion polls. If Labour is only two or three points behind then he must be fairly secure. But if the Tory poll leads that we saw at the end of last year are repeated then that could have a devastating affect on party morale – particularly amongst those defending marginal seats.

There’s an interesting “party leaders at the general election” market from Betfair. Currently it’s 0.32/1 that the line up will be Cameron and Brown.

Mike Smithson

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