Brown, should he stay or go?
Labour MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann has asked the question so it might be worth trying to answer it. Let’s examine the claims in detail; firstly, that Labour shed votes because Brown appears ‘out of touch’. Certainly that may be true in Bassetlaw and indeed other places and it’s not escaped most peoples notice that at the very least Brown has serious problems with how he is presented and does so himself. Contrast Brown’s closing speech on the final TV debate and his much better address to Citizens UK and you see a problem; in the former he was far too negative and dour, sombre and sincere but hardly inspirational and the consequent negativity looked plain bad in contrast to the other two who tried to convey a positive message.
In the latter he was everything he should have been in the closing remarks, inspirational and powerful in his delivery. It is probably no accident that this speech was crafted by a left-winger while no doubt his remarks in the TV debate were no doubted smelted from different ore; rehashed Blairism from one of the inner circle who can’t make the imaginative leap required to realise Blairism worked well for Blair but it doesn’t for anybody else. This is about 99.9% of Brown’s problem; he has spent far too much effort trying to be something he blatantly is not. Well, that and the fact that he leads a party seeking a fourth term of office; something never likely to endear you to a furtive electorate.
The second claim made by Mann is Brown’s presence makes a Lib/Lab alliance less likely which maybe true if only the Liberal Democrat leader wasn’t Nick Clegg who is also a major barrier. Brown is a handy excuse for Clegg to use when trying to hide his true wish it’s true but realistically, if Brown did not exist Clegg would have to invent him. Had Mann made the point that Brown has led Labour to electoral defeat then he would be on stronger ground and indeed there is a case to answer in this instance. Labour’s electoral performance was poor and ultimately the buck does stop at Number 10; it is that will most likely seal Brown’s fate and here he can have no complaints.
However, more than a cosmetic change of leader is needed…..much more and it is that debate that should frame any future contest not appeasing the personal prejudices of another party leader.