Gordon’s last throw – how was it for you?

Caroline Flint’s “stiletto” tells us as much about her as Gordon Brown. For me, the self exposure at his Downing St news conference was far more important. In his scripted statement I thought he made a fair fist of setting out a future agenda but in the Q&As he was dreadful. Times sketch writer Anne Treneman picked up on the reflex lying over Alistair Darling:

“I’m here to be totally candid, to accept my responsibility and to set out what I intend to do,” he announced. Well, if that is candid, then I’d hate to see shifty. There were even a few blatant porkies in there, such as when he claimed he never, ever wanted to move Alistair Darling as Chancellor. To that, many would say just one word: “Balls.”

Others dipped into amateur psychology, like hostile biographer Tom Bower and equally hostile commentator Andrew Parris in the Times and the Indy’s fairly neutral sketch writer Simon Carr. The weight of Brown’s past bears down unsparingly on his flawed personality and must be hard to bear. It was his old enemy and new best friend Peter Mandelson who mastered minded the chorus of support from midnight Thursday to give him one last chance. Many commentators with a vested interest look forward to one last heave after the Euro results. But disaster there has already been factored in by the new cabinet who having taken Brown’s shilling cannot abandon him now without losing the last shreds of credibility. Polly Toynbee, who once praised Brown for his high spending social policy rages and despairs. The FT’s Robert Shrimsley pronounces the end of British radicalism from Thatcher to Brown and a return to party roots ( wherever they are). And the way ahead over the next year? Nobody can get their head round that one yet – too miserable to contemplate just now.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London