Sunday 31 May 2009

Gordon was very good, but is it too late?

The Gordon Brown we saw on this morning's Andrew Marr programme was the leader we have long been promised by his supporters, but the one we too seldom see. He was concise, passionate and forceful in setting out what needs to be done on expenses and what he believes needs to happen on democratic reform. By contrast, David Cameron delivered a below par performance on Sky minutes later.

But with polls variously putting Labour on 16% in the European elections and 22% in national rankings, it all has a bit of a feel of too little, too late. Obviously, I hope Labour does better than the polls suggest on Thursday, and on Europe the expenses saga has utterly obscured the extremism of the Tories (in their plans to hop into bed with Europe's looniest parties rather than the moderate Christian Democrats) and the utter barminess of UKIP, a party which knows a thing or two about fiddling expenses. But the truth on Friday is that the party will be facing a huge electoral headache.

At that stage, Labour will need to decide what it does next. I am sceptical of a reshuffle whose central feature is installing Ed Balls as Chancellor, though I tend to believe little of what I read on the front page of the Sunday Times. But Brown's hint of a more bipartisan approach to government in this morning's Marr interview was more promising and is much more the direction people want after the last few weeks. He should be braver on electoral as well as democratic reform too: Cameron's cretinous suggestion that putting a new electoral system to the voters in a referendum is somehow anti-democratic exposes his plans (to cut the number of Labour MPs)in all their partisan vacuousness; Brown should be braver and openly less partisan.

It is a shame we have seen so little of the Gordon Brown we saw this morning over the last two years. But if it is a signal of a new way of doing things, it may offer a chance of some recovery after Thursday. Otherwise, there may well need to be bigger and tougher decisions made about the future leadership of the party. But it would be best for Labour and for the stability of the economy as we try to recover from the recession if we didn't need to reach that point ahead of the next election.

1 comment:

Chris said...

People should be coming out fighting. The Tories and their media friends want people to feel deflated. John Prescott has shown how its done.