Has Brown the strength to reclaim the word STRONG?
It’s hard to credit it now but in those heady days of the final week of September 2007 Labour party spinners were putting it about that their polling had discovered a new type of voter that they termed “Gordon Conservatives”. These were people, it was claimed, who had voted Tory in 2005 but had then decided to support Brown’s changed Labour party
On September 24th 2007 Ben Brogan reported: “Remember the Reagan Democrats who helped the Gipper win two terms? Brown Tories are a similar phenomenon. These are folk who in the past identified themselves as Conservatives, and who name Margaret Thatcher as their favourite PM of all time. If asked what quality they admire most, they say strong leadership. Labour’s research – backed by some recent published polls – suggests voters are choosing Mr Brown over David Cameron as a leader in times of trouble. Expect to hear more about the importance of Gordon Conservatives in days ahead.”
This came not so long after Gordon had pulled off his remarkable coup in inviting Baroness Thatcher to Number 10. It also came during that super-busy month when there was at least an announcement a day from ministers as they warmed the public up for what was expected to be a November 1st general election.
The key word, no doubt following the research, to describe Gordon was “strong”. It appeared everywhere – even on the lectern where he made his conference speech. There was also that dummy bill-board ad with the simple slogan “Not Flash – just Gordon”.
Looking back it was an impressive build-up and you have to ask whether anything like it would be possible again. For what’s interesting is the way the Tories have taken the word that was the theme of the early Brown premiership “strong” and replaced it with “ditherer” that is almost mandatory for any front-bencher to include in a speech.
The one lesson from that period is that if Gordon Brown can get his confidence back then he might be a formidable opponent once again. The big question is “if”?