Michael Gove has delivered an extremely effective deconstruction
of Gordon Brown's failings and flaws to the Bow Group today. Delivered in a 'more in sorrow than in anger' style, I suspect this will have Brown gnashing his teeth and swearing vengeance, but the truth is that in Gove the Conservatives possess a brain the match of anything on the Labour benches, plus considerably more talent at delivery than was ever held by David Willetts or Oliver Letwin - equally bright though they be.
The section that I suspect will irritate Brown the most is the following one:
The Prime Minister's position, in one sense, recalls the historic position of other leaders who have come to the top job, often after a long apprenticeship, and, tragically, just as the circumstances and ideas which brought their party to power are becoming obsolete.
In that sense, the Prime Minister is like Balfour, a man of great academic talent, fated to become premier at the end of a long period of one-party rule and to disappoint all those who thought him the ablest man of his generation, or like Roseberry, the obvious successor to a liberal interventionist premier, with a reputedly dazzling intellect, yet who crucially lacks the ability to take his party forward into a new world of changed circumstances.
In our own century there have been a number of these leaders who have been fated, like film sequels, to have none of the success of the blockbuster which first brought lustre to their brand.Whether it's been Neville Chamberlain after Baldwin, Eden after Churchill or Bush senior after Reagan, the successor model has never quite recaptured the excitement of the first. They have been Roger Moores cast to replace the original Sean Connery - with the best will in the world the same quality isn't there.
I suspect that this fear - that he will end up as a mere footnote to the Blair years, a truly fag-end Prime Minister - has occupied Brown for some considerable time. That he ducked the Election in Autumn 2007 will gnaw at him still further. It is also, for the Conservatives, a profitable line to take on the Prime Minister - time for a change, stale government, no new ideas. It's a potent message, and all the more so for coming from someone so eminently able to fight and win the battle of intellect.
Labels: Brown, Gove, politics