Sunday, 7 October 2007
Is Gordon damaged?
Andrew Rawnsley has a good analysis of what got us to where we are today. It was a mistake to allow unfettered speculation without a clearer exit strategy. But this is an opportunity for Gordon Brown as well as a temporary setback. It is true that the Tories are ahead of Labour in some polls today. But Labour is now at a healthy 38% rather than in the low thirties: a sense of proportion would show this to be a lead that is eminently recoverable. Brown's reputation has suffered a knock - and this may cause a frisson among those who hated the speculation he allowed to continue about Tony Blair before last year's party conference - but a strong period of power and good leadership will sort that out. He is still more trusted than Cameron, and seen by a large majority on YouGov to be doing a good job as PM, as well as keeping a lead on many key issues including the economy. But Brown now needs to be bolder on policy, and not just a good manager. He should be prepared to embrace real reform in the public services and be seen to do so - Academies, for example are a potential Labour triumph, embraced by the Tories - and he should squash stupid distractions like efforts to encourage battles over grammar schools that would do more than any snap election to destroy Labour's hopes in many of its South East marginals. He must also neutralise the popular Tory policies on inheritance tax and stamp duty and show that Labour remains the party of aspiration and hardworking families. The extent to which he does so will determine the extent to which today's headlines are a momentary media maelstrom or not.