May 23, 2008

After Crewe

After Labour's widely predicted defeat in the Crewe by-election, Labour hack Sunder Katwala, writing in the Guardian, thinks this is a hiccup rather than a disaster and believes Gordon Brown is the party's best bet in the general election:-
Nothing in the challenge of message, strategy and policy - how to define the choice at the next election which could see off the call of "time for a change" - would be solved by having a different personality in charge.
A bolder Brown remains the Labour figure best placed to reassert his party's claim to be the party of fairness. This is what he came into politics to do. It is also now the agenda on which his and his party's political future depends.
Few commenters seem to agree. Gordon Brown is widely regarded as an electoral liability - he's not a likable character, he may be highly intelligent but he comes across as a bit of a dullard and, quite frankly, people don't trust him.

To a large extent this may reflect the means by which Brown became leader. It seems people don't like having an unelected prime minister foisted upon them. The "gentleman's agreement" with Tony Blair which resulted in Brown's rise to power was a grubby piece of politics. And, after the 10p tax debacle (amongst other things), many ordinary working people seem to have decided Labour is not for them.

It's all very well talking about rebuilding the broad coalition that brought New Labour to power in the first place, but it was Blair, not Brown, who built that coalition and without him the New Labour project looks dead in the water.