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Mick Temple's Blog

BROWN BLOWS IT

12-10-2007

Gordon Brown

Remember....you heard it here first. You know, just like that November 1 General Election. This time it's not The Stirrer sticking his neck on the block but politics Professor Mick Temple.

David Cameron will be our next prime minister. There, I've said it .... now please read on.

What a few weeks it's been for British politics. Two weeks ago, Gordon Brown was apparently unassailable, so self-assured and relaxed that he seemed a new man, indistinguishable from the dour and ill-at-ease Chancellor we'd known for a decade. It looked like he'd been prime minister for years.

We all know that prime ministerial honeymoons don't last long in today's fast-moving news cycle. But Gordon must be shell-shocked at the speed with his reputation has been left in tatters.

A series of major gaffes and miscalculations - and the sickeningly cynical visit to Iraq, accompanied by the announcement of troop withdrawals soon, was the one that offended the public the most - has left him seriously damaged.

Two disastrous public appearances this week have compounded his error in stoking up the election fires and then urinating all over them.

His press conference showed a Brown we have never seen before. He now knows what it's like in the top job when things go avocado-shaped. Let's be blunt - Gordon Brown lied. It took us a long time to realise the previous occupant of Number Ten was lying to us, but he was a much savvier politician.

Brown's pathetic attempt to say his decision not to go to the country would have been the same even if the polls had predicted a 100 seat majority was witheringly put down by ITV's Tom Bradby. Nobody believed it, not even Brown.

And the nation watched in fascinated horror as he followed that fumbling - and frankly amateurish - performance with a PMQ session that brought to mind the old spectacle of bear-baiting. A lumbering, wounded, animal, taunted by a baying crowd and lashing out blindly, Gordon Bruin lost it completely - and a big chunk of his authority disappeared down the Westminster drains.

There will be a lot of wound-licking over the next few weeks. But one thing is clear. The next election campaign has started. From now until May 2009 (not far away!) the heat will be on, and the new PM's first encounter with the heat that comes with the job has introduced doubt into what was previously unchallenged wisdom - that Labour could not lose the next election no matter when it is held.

Clearly, anything can happen in that time. But a few more miscalculations, a few more bravura Cameron performances, and Gordon Brown will begin to resemble a dead man walking - with the spectre of Jim Callaghan being wafted in front of him by a media that smells blood.

My opinion? The public tend to forget easily - but the flaws revealed in the past few days cannot be eradicated. Our first glimpse of Brown under pressure will colour our perceptions of him over the next eighteen months.

And I'll be bold enough to make a prediction based on nothing more than a feeling that something fundamentally changed this week. The Conservatives will win the next election.

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