Après Blair, le déluge?

Interesting take on the Blair Brown question from Phillip Stephens in the FT, in which he ponders the importance of how Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair. Above all, he must remain his own man.

Mr Brown’s dilemma is that many of those who loathe the prime minister have long identified themselves as belonging to the chancellor’s camp. The result is to frame Mr Brown as a prisoner of the left – and his hoped-for premiership as a return to Old Labour.

The chancellor would insist otherwise. But his public statements are equivocal. For all that he publicly backed the prime minister this week, he has been unwilling to declare himself the keeper of the New Labour flame. Blairites will tell you that by adding to the pressure for the prime minister’s departure Mr Brown will eventually destroy his inheritance.

They may be right. My sense of British politics is that among the voters there are many erstwhile supporters of the government looking for a reason to desert it. By the time of the next election, Labour will have been in power for at least 12 years. Many will judge that is enough for any party. Time for a change becomes a double-edged sword: Labour may have had enough of its leader; the country enough of Labour.