All entries for Thursday 07 September 2006

September 07, 2006

Gordon Brown's Silence

Am I one of the only people who doesn’t find it odd that Gordon Brown’s lips have been tighter than his purse strings over the past couple of days? Surely it’s all too obvious what’s going on. Of course he’s not going to be saying anything whilst all this rages as he has to consider several important factors.

Firstly any talk from Blairites of disloyalty seems a bit churlish given that Blair has apparently reneged upon his part of the Granita pact. It would be quite crazy to expect the Chancellor to speak out against the plotting as a favour to Blair. He knows what he wants and what he has been promised. There is no doubting that he wants to be PM.

After that we’re into easy territory to consider. Splits in the party could be fatal, as they were to the Tories in the 1990s. Brown needs to avoid this so he’s not speaking in an attempt to distance himself from the factionalism, something which Blair doesn’t seem to have managed quite as well. He doesn’t want to be tainted in his election campaign, either for Labour or (should he win that) for the nation. He doesn’t wish to be seen as a distrustful backstabber who reneges on agreements.

And thus he does not defend Blair. Partly this is because there’s no love lost. But Brown also sees how unpopular Blair is and wants distance, he does not want to be Tony version 2 in the electorate’s eyes. To defend him could be seen as associating with damaged goods which would not go down well with many people. Therefore an ambiguous role in Blair’s downfall is a good thing, not obviously disloyal, but not slavishly devoted to an unpopular leader. In a way it’s quite a clever ploy, especially as he will be quite similar to Blair in many ways were he to get power.

Silence speaks volumes sometimes, and right now it’s doing so quite well for Brown. Maybe he has got more PR sense than we thought.

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