Waiting for Gordo

If you lot are waiting impatiently for the Euros, just imagine what it’s like for the increasingly suicidal Labour, tearing itself to pieces before our eyes in the torrent of Sunday morning political shows. Tony Blair’s old flatmate Charlie Falconer is the latest to join the chorus calling on Gordon to quit. Charlie I’m sure is perfectly sincere in making his case but he has a personal grudge against Gordon who denied him the full pension of the last old-style Lord Chancellor and limited his pay-off to the new, lower rate for an ordinary cabinet minister. On balance, the case for Gordon’s survival looks the stronger but it’s a very precarious balance. The anguished debate hinges on Brown’s character and on that, the metaphorical purple ink has been flowing. No one will be surprised to find Mandy on both sides of the argument. Below is a small selection of acute observations on that tortured, divided personality. STRENGTHS

Peter Mandelson

Mandelson did not deny the contents of the email but said it had been “completely misrepresented….It was not hostile to, or about, the prime minister. It said that the prime minister needs to be what he is… The prime minister is a politician not a pop star. He concentrates on getting the policies right, not on being a showman.”

Andrew Rawnsley

The first is that Gordon Brown, even in such a mauled condition, remains a larger figure than anyone else in his cabinet. Could David Cameron have rescued the banks or achieved the agreements at the G20? Could Alan Johnson? These are fair questions for Mr Brown’s residual supporters to ask.

Anne McElvoy

One reason that Mr Brown’s fall fascinates even those who dislike him intensely is that he has a quality of flawed grandeur which Shakespeare would have recognised. If he were a less serious figure, it would all matter less, this ungainly struggle to ward off decline.

Janet Daley (sort of)

Isn’t there just the remotest possibility that – in what even he must recognise as his absolutely, positively last chance – Mr Brown might do something tactically clever?.. In that extraordinary feat of bravado that was his Friday press conference, he made some remarks that may have escaped notice amid the blood and gore in which he was steeped, citing three objectives for his new Cabinet’s immediate attention.


Peter Mandelson _(private email, before returning to government),

”…insecure, self-conscious physically and emotionally, uncomfortable in his skin and angry… He is a self-conscious person, physically and emotionally. He is not as comfortable with his own skin as Tony was (is). A new public persona cannot be glued on to him.

Andrew Rawnsley

Gordon Brown doesn’t have the same “sure touch” at home and lacks the capacity to talk “in language that ordinary folk understand” which makes him “not the powerful communicator that some other political leaders are here and abroad”. To that criticism are added many more by those who despair of Gordon Brown: an incoherent policy agenda and an inability to inspire; prevarication when he needs to seize the initiative and clumsiness when he finally tries; poisonous spinning against colleagues conducted by the dark side of his operation at Number 10; a hopeless addiction to backfiring tactical wheezes. Giving a peerage to the gruesome Alan Sugar is the sort of frantic, misconceived stunt that is Gordon Brown at his very worst.

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