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.
4 comments by 2 or more people
I’ll be interested to see if Blair can hang on long enough for a credible candidate to emerge who can put a spanner in the Brown coronation works.
I still believe that if Blair had stood up to the US and refused to go into Iraq as Harold Wilson did when he refused to take the UK into Vietnam he would have stood a good chance of fighting the next election as PM and possibly winning.
07 Sep 2006, 22:45
Did he not release a long statement yesterday?
08 Sep 2006, 09:25
Edge of Reason
If Brown has more PR sense than you thought, then truly you must have had a low opinion to start with! His only chance of accession is in the event that there is no credible alternative. He realises that the longer Blair stays, the worse his (Brown’s) chances therefore get, which leaves him with two courses of action – either force the issue now, and risk being rejected forever, or wait loyally until whatever time Blair leaves, and risk having been eclipsed in the meantime.
This constant cycle of lighting a fire, hiding, and then running back in with a wet blanket just as the flames are taking hold is not only damaging to his party but is making him look idiotic, and wholly unsuitable for the job he covets. I think he’s the most successful Chancellor we’ve had in modern times, yet as a potential PM he looks like a third-rate Michael Portillo.
08 Sep 2006, 13:40
Probably, like an eejit I set this article to appear later on in the day than it was written (for various reasons), forgetting that a day can be a long time in politics… mind you, if we take that as true then the length of time it took Brown to reply shows part of my point anyway.
I think he’s a good chancellor, he could well be a good PM, but he’s not charismatic in the way political leaders have to be, more so these days with the media saturation we have. But dreams of the persuasive power of competence are pointless, you need the PR, which I don’t think Brown has relative to Blair and Cameron. Such is life.
08 Sep 2006, 14:13
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