Could the birthday week of judgement set the ball rolling?
Next Friday, on June 27th, Gordon will be celebrating his first anniversary as Prime Minister and we are going to see a lot of commentators, like Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, giving their verdict on the first twelve months. And given how events have unfolded this could provide the peg for a lot of critical analysis of his leadership style and further questions about his future.
Freedland was a pretty solid Brown supporter yet his anniversary article contains much that will make Number 10 feel uncomfortable – because he highlights all the weaknesses.
He argues: “..I find myself in sympathy with those who admired Brown through his 10 long years as chancellor and who keenly awaited his premiership, and yet now conclude that they got Brown wrong – that, on the current evidence, he is simply not up to the job. .At its most basic, he seems to lack the skills of a man who would lead a 21st-century nation…The most obvious skill gap is in communication…He does not seem able to deliver three or four plain, human sentences that anyone could understand. The result is an empathy gap: he does not seem able to show any to the electorate and so they don’t feel any for him.”
On the November election U-turn Freedland says “..it wasn’t the eventual failure to call an election that did the damage. It was Brown’s presentation of it, the rictus smile as he insisted that the tightening opinion polls had nothing to do with his decision. Reporters told him to come off it, snorting their derision. It was like watching a teacher lose the discipline of his class – once gone, it can never be recovered.”
This is savage stuff made even more potent because it is from a friend.
Freedland concludes with a call to action “..Labour’s task is not simply to watch this saga play out to its bitter end, but to act – and to help this desperately flawed hero change his destiny.”
A week before the Crewe by-election I suggested that the 5/1 and 6/1 then available on Brown going before the end of 2008 looked great value. Those prices did not last the afternoon.
My guess is that he should just about survive but a few more articles by “friends” during this anniversary week will make his position even more precarious.