Could he become Labour’s William Hague?
One of the problems of Mr. Brown’s style of government is that he makes most of the big announcements and his top team get very little public exposure. So if there’s something big to say about health then it’s not the Secretary of State responsible who gets the lime-light.
Not only does this mean that outside three or four figures there’s relatively little public awareness of the second string of party figures – but they are not getting the chance to build the experience of dealing high profile developments.
So what are we to make of this afternoon’s news from the Standard’s Paul Waugh that the 39 year old Andy Burnham is planning to put his hat into the ring after Labour’s expected defeat in the general election? Does he stand a chance? How well would he handle the role of opposition leader?
The one time Burnham himself made the headlines was last year when an ill-judged jibe about David Davis and the civil rights campaigner, Shami Chakrabarti, led to him having to write a highly publicised letter of apology.
He had another moment during the summer when Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, began making what appeared to be attacks on the NHS on Fox News in the US. This should have been a great platform but although he popped up a fair bit he didn’t get the traction that a more seasoned communicator could have achieved.
He has, however, got two things in his favour. Unlike William Hague who became Tory leader while still in his 30s after the 1997 defeat, he does have what appears to be a full head of hair. And unlike one or two of the other suggested contenders he has a pretty safe seat.
My guess is that Labour’s next prime minister is not yet even an MP.