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Mick Temple’s Blog



Gordon Brown

The Prime Minister is in Birmingham this weekend for the Labour Party Spring conference, and as Professor Mick temple from Staffordshire observes, his debut conference in Bournemouth six months ago already feels like it belongs to a different age.Check out the Larry Grayson reference...

I’d love to continue with the in-depth political coverage on ITV News to a junior office serving in Afghanistan calling himself; somewhat implausibly, Harry Wales.

He spoke movingly about writing home to his dad. Funny, I didn’t know he kept in touch with James Hewitt (MI5 and the Duke of Edinburgh, please note, that was a cheap joke).

But my sense of duty impels me to write about the big event in the Midlands this weekend, and I don’t mean Jibbering Sessions (who he? Ed.) at the Hare & Hounds.

From Bournemouth to Birmingham – a giant leap for Gordon Brown and Labour. Last September at the party’s Autumn Conference, Gordon was the big clunking fist bashing David Cameron into oblivion. Then, his innate caution caused him to draw back from delivering the knockout punch of a snap election.

As his supporters stream into Brum for their Spring conference, the Brown Bomber has become just another British horizontal heavyweight. The big clunking fist looks increasingly like Larry Grayson’s limp wrist.

You hear that the only thing preventing electoral meltdown for Labour is the failure of David Cameron (‘he seems like a nice boy’) to establish a distinctive and credible platform for government.

But where’s Gordon’s vision? What does HE stand for? Where’s the beef, Brown?

I would not have imagined this six months ago, but already people are looking back nostalgically at the Blair years. It sounds like the foreign correspondent’s old trick of citing the taxi-driver on the way from the airport to the air-conditioned hotel, but this week I heard a colleague say ‘at least Blair was a leader’.

John Major failed to escape from the huge shadow of Maggie, and Brown seems doomed to wither in Blair’s rather less illustrious wake. Brown’s only claim to competence – financial prudence – has been fatally wounded by the Northern Rock debacle.

Never mind the next general election. In May, Brown faces his biggest test so far. He must gain seats at the local elections. Labour did dreadfully four years ago, their worst result for over 30 years. So, the comeback should start then but the omens aren’t good.

While we know public opinion is volatile more than half the population now believe Brown is doing a bad job. The Conservatives are up to eleven points ahead and, despite reservations about his ability for the top job, Cameron is liked in a way that Brown will never be.

If Brown fails, there’s always a silver lining. Midlands Labour MPs in marginal constituencies – hello, Janet Dean, Gisela Stuart, James Plaskitt and Lynda Waltho – can look forward to spending more time with their families.

You can also read Mick at the BBC’s Politics Show blog

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