Can he win the election as a one-man band?
This morning the main news on the BBC politics page is yet another announcement from Gordon Brown – this time to give extra benefits to members of poor families who agree to return to work and sign up to skills training courses.
Fine – but why isn’t the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham, allowed to lead on this? For Denham is one of the most effective speakers and debaters in a cabinet of pretty poor communicators. Surely Brown needs to be giving colleagues like him the exposure ahead of the general election campaign?
For with almost all of Labour’s “big beasts” now out of the front-line there is hardly anybody in the current top team who is recognised by the public. The Labour leadership, apart from Brown and possibly Jack Straw, is made up of unknowns.
Hardly a day seems to go by without Brown making one announcement or another with the minister responsible being cut out. Why does he feel he has to do everything himself?
For as well as the impression that Labour’s a “one man band” Brown’s approach reinforces the Osborne-Cameron strategy of portraying him an obsessive control freak. He looks like the nightmare boss who takes all the credit when things go right but distributes downwards all the blame for failures.
This could have serious consequences at the general election. Brown cannot go to the country with him being the only Labour face that the public recognises. There have to be others there and these need to be built up now. For starters John Denham and Alan Johnson need to be given more prominent roles.
Unless Brown is prepared to change I can see Labour losing maybe 2-3% of the national vote share during the three week campaign itself – and with the parties so close that could have a dramatic effect on the outcome.
We have not looked at general election betting for some time but the Tories are the 0.78/1 favourite to win most seats.