Friday, December 14, 2007

So just what is it then?

Why the hell has Gordon Brown proved to be such a shambles at number 10? Here's a man who was famous for his rigid, even tedious, competence. Even if he wasn't up to the flashy presentational gubbins his predecessor was so good at, we were told, the new Prime Minister would just have to focus on his strength - sound, solid governance.
So why have the last two months looked like a cross between a Laurel & Hardy movie and a car crash? The crises that used to envelope Tony Blair (not including Iraq which is sui generis and rather outside the scope of this analysis) were usually deftly handled, both by press officers and by the man himself. He had a genuine talent for wriggling out of trouble, whether it was the 'pretty straight kind of guy' defence or the self-deprecatory charm that could deflect attacks. Brown, on the other hand, lacks this lightness of touch. The parliamentary sketch writers that depict him as a tethered bear, prey to the attacks of fleeter footed opponents, have hit a sore spot. Brown is so weak at Prime Ministers Questions that he has reverted to the 'sorghum yields in the Ukraine' approach of quoting reams of, alrgely dubious, economic achievements.
In short, therefore, Brown is struggling so badly because he lacks the capacity to get out of trouble. His tried and tested method, the physical removal of himself from its presence, has been rumbled so effectively that it is now another of his little problems. Its rhetorical equivalent, the setting up of a review, has been used so often that Bloombergs now have a running tally going (currently at 31) of the reviews ordered since he became Prime Minister. Brown doesn't know how to close down a problem - let alone defuse it. This has meant that, since all Governments will be prone to cock-ups and gaffes, each will damage the Prime Minister more and more. We're in for a lot more of this I fancy.

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