All entries for Sunday 22 July 2007

July 22, 2007

Brown’s Bounce

Worn down by the British weather, bored of the bloody Beckhams and fed up with the falling dollar (okay, maybe not that last one), Britain seems to have become fond of the quiet life.

Lewis Hamilton isn’t the only quiet yet determined person to be enjoying a summer of popularity. Gordon Brown, too, is feeling groovy.

Today’s Sunday Times/YouGov poll puts the government on 40%, Labour’s best in nearly two years. David Cameron, meanwhile, is off to Rwanda, hoping things can’t get much worse while he’s gone. He’s staring at a seven-point abyss between him and the dour one.

I was one of many who thought the popularity chasm created by Blair’s departure would cause a headache for Brown. But if anything, the workmanlike approach from the new Prime Minister is winning people over. The closest the government has had to a scandal has been the cannabis revelations this week. But this will be a non-issue for Labour while the opposition is led by a man with a (what’s the word…) colourful past.

As Rod Liddle hints in the Sunday Times this morning:

When I was at university – around the same time as Ruth Kelly, as it happens – habitual drug use was divided strictly on party lines. The lefties smoked dope… Coke was seen, back then, as an upwardly mobile, aspirational, Thatcherite drug. I think we need to hear a few more specific confessions from Conservative Central Office, don’t you?

This is not an issue on which the Tories can make much hay, and they were predictably quiet this week.

But if silence is a virtue, it is one Labour have grasped more effectively. While David Cameron practically carpet-bombed Ealing Southall with his presence, Gordon Brown left the by-election to local lieutenants. The result – third for the Tories, a modestly reduced majority for Labour – says it all.

He might be boring, but so far he’s been effective (to use one of his buzzwords, ‘resolute’).

The test will come in the Autumn, when election fever reaches a crescendo. How well can he do rabble-rousing?


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