Interesting times. Danny Finkelstein said on Newsnight last night that Brown’s clumsiness comes already discounted with the price, and therefore this won’t have much of an effect. I beg to differ Danny. It will have an effect almost precisely because in comparison with the larger affairs of state, it is relatively trivial.
It will matter, because it shifts more of those crucial folk with light preferences in politics (ie, the ones who still ‘don’t know’ when they lift the pencil to vote) away from Gordon, and across to…. Well, to whom exactly?
Charlie accurately describes the control freakery thing that probably already has been discounted. Yet, for me the interesting thing is less that, than its demonstration of just how removed British politicians have become from ordinary people.
Three years ago Shuggy threw an interesting light on where Brown’s real weakness lies: his peculiarly Scottish Labour procession from relative obscurity to PM, written around the time he famously ‘bottled’ an election in October 2007:
…what so few people have remarked upon is part of his nervousness would have been based on his inexperience with close elections. Where has he been confronted with this before personally? In Fife? Don’t make me laugh. In a leadership contest? They had a coronation instead. It was no wonder Brown looked so pleased – it brought to the rest of the country the Scottish Labour way where the selectorate are the electorate in most places, most of the time.
Here’s a video of the incident, and the follow up in which the woman herself comes over as rather more intelligent than some of the questions being pitched her…
This sets the Tories up nicely for tonight’s debate two ways. Mr Brown’s intemperate outburst has made immigration – one of the key hot issues of the Conservatives campaign in key marginals – respectable (see this Daly/Finkelstein dialogue for context). And it solves Mr Cameron’s dilemma of what to do about Mr Clegg on tonight’s TV. He can focus all his attention on the hapless Prime Minister and leave the Lib Dem leader to pick up whatever he can.
Game and penultimate set to Mr Cameron…
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