Has Kettle got it right about Mr. Brown?
There’s a biting column on Mr. Brown and the economic crisis by Martin Kettle in the Guardian this morning on the reluctance of the Prime Minister to take any responsibility whatsoever for what’s gone on in Britain’s banks.
Discussing first Mr. Brown’s tendency to put tactics ahead of strategy Kettle looks at what’s gone on the the past few weeks and makes the case that a reluctance by Brown to accept any blame is making it much more difficult for the government to deal effectively with the challenge.
Kettle goes on: “..Put this all together and you have a prime minister whose authority is manifestly beginning to weaken as he struggles – as even the greatest political leader would – to master the politics of the crisis. The evidence for this diminished authority is everywhere in the political system: in the extraordinary Cabinet argument this week about bonuses reported in the Guardian on Wednesday; in the emboldened behaviour of Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman and other would-be Brown successors; in the notably unintimidated questioning of Brown by Labour committee members yesterday; in the fatalistic mood of most Labour MPs. And of course in the opinion polls, too.
The choice facing Labour is not about who will lead the government. For all Brown’s faults, that is a non-issue. The choice is about narrative – whether the Brown government is both smart enough and disciplined enough to explain the crisis more honestly and plausibly….
..No man, writes Conrad in Lord Jim, ever quite understands his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge. That insight has been played out once again this week in a guilty culture’s search for the guilty men of the banking collapse. The challenge for Brown, just as it was for Jim after the sinking of his ship, is whether he has the self-knowledge to live with and learn from his proper share of guilt about the disaster that occurred on his watch.”
Ouch! What a final paragraph! Alas I think Kettle’s attempt will not change the PM. Gord is as Gord is and his whole character and personality is not going to be transformed in the way that Kettle believes is necessary.
What this does for the economy I don’t know. What this does for Labour’s electoral chances could be devastating.
What is very noticeable is the current reluctance of Labour figures ready to step forward and defend their leader. Their silence is very telling. Thus you see lots of articles on LabourList attacking the Tories – very few are arguing that Gordon is the right man for the moment.
I still sense that Labour’s leader on election day could be someone other than Mr. Brown.
Labour seat numbers betting for the next general election.