So they’ve made their choice – they’ll have to stick with it. But this is not a respite for Gordon, the Labour party were never a problem for him, and neither were the particular political circumstances.
Economic and political problems only go so far in explaining the mystery of Gordon Brown’s disappearing authority. The central reason it disappeared is because, nationally, it was never really there.
The most powerful political leaders are charismatic leaders – the slogan ‘not flash, just Gordon’ gave the game away there.
Because of this, GB will never be able to shape the narrative – and he really should be benefiting in the polls. Internationally he is even fêted . On paper he would appear the best party leader to deal with the economic crisis. At the G20 meetings perhaps he didn’t achieve all of his aims but gained an awful lot, not least the spectacle of leaders converging on London because of him. He is respected for his intellectual ability, at least abroad.
Brown came with Blair – according to some he was the de facto domestic Prime Minister and policy-maker in chief. Internationally, he was unknown and an unknown quantity. Blair became unpopular because of too much grandstanding. Brown was popular because he wasn’t Blair but then came the bumbled speeches (Obama Beach?), misjudged photo-ops (see below) and bafflingly short-sighted sloganeering (‘British jobs for British workers’ didn’t work well). Already ‘Sralan’ Sugar’s days appear numbered.
The Prime Minister is not a natural Prime Minster – he is a natural politician, no doubt, and in fairness an intellectual tour de force that, were this a battle of intellects, would knock David Cameron out of the race. Yet a clunking fist is far too clunking for the modern environment of 24 hour coverage, no matter how much oil the oleaginous Lord Mandelson provides. It isn’t a case of YouTube if you want to, rather, YouTube if you want to be noticed – and not just for the wrong reasons.
The recession appears to be over. The fabled green shoots may be appearing but this has barely been noticed. The Conservatives had awful expenses problems to deal with but were not punished by the electorate. Gordon Brown would be popular, were he not himself. The problem is not the issues but the narrative.
It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s you. Sorry Gordon.