Hain, Brown and playing the long game…

Whilst Peter Hain has ruffled a considerable number of feathers in Northern Ireland, both Blair and Brown may have cause to thank him for his intervention yesterday. But this line is fascinating in that it contains both a denial and, possibly, a pitch for the kind of independent deputy Brown may need if he is to rise above the accusation of control freakery Charles Clarke has accused him of…

There are no joint tickets and I have not declared my intentions on that matter, but I do think this is about the most able potential leader, Prime Minister, of this country. I happen to think that is Gordon Brown. I haven’t always agreed with him, I’ve had the odd run-in with him over the last 15 years, but I do think he is the best leader. I have supported loyally the Prime Minister Tony Blair, I continue to do so and it is his decision when he steps down in the interests of the country and the party. I think after what is likely to be a contest Gordon will succeed him.”

Despite the complaints of his many critics, Hain has taken on the seemingly impossible task of injecting life (and interest) into Northern Ireland’s political game from when just a year ago it looked like all the players were intent in walking off the pitch. If he can complete the task by November (or even early next year), Brown and Blair may both have cause to consider him for high office. But he’s not the kind of figure capable of replacing the undoubted public charm of the current British PM.

But the Chancellor, who is a fan of Soccer, might remember that British politics is more like cricket, than the 90 minute game.

With Cameron currently smooching his way into the British public sympathy’s, it may be that Brown’s gruff seriousness will add up to the greater sum, despite this week’s nasty outburst of Parliamentary Labour’s ‘demob angst’. The caveat is that, as Martin Kettle points out, a third (if only perceived) putsch, and the big hitting Chancellor may get himself runout before he gets a chance to knock the Cameron’s Tories around the park.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty