Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brown: too clever by half?

The nauseating spectacle of that evil old bag Thatcher consorting with Gordon Brown at No. 10 is being hailed as evidence of Brown’s strategic genius. I’m not so sure. Of course, it’s obvious what is going on (and that’s one reason why it isn’t half as smart as it seems). Cameron has tried to depict Brown as a "throwback" to Old Labour (which is, of course, ludicrous) and Brown’s response is a series of gestures designed to discredit this line of attack. Posing with Thatcher is certainly one way to do this. But strategic genius…? The appointment of Digby Jones was also hailed as a political chess move of Bobby Fischer-style genius. Actually it’s a hostage to fortune. What’s the money on a spectacular Digby Jones resignation at a moment calculated to do most damage to Labour? Similarly with Thatcher. The unions are, not altogether unreasonably, irked by below inflation wage increases at a time when the headlines are full of greedy corporate executives and their runaway salaries and perks. Is flirting with Thatcher quite the way to recommend restraint to the unions? Maybe Brown is not worried about taunting the unions, perhaps he would welcome a mini “Winter of Discontent” as an opportunity to show how tough he is; but that doesn’t seem too smart to me. I know that the photo-op with Thatcher is really about spin (of course we weren’t going to have any of that were we?) and that it is no importance in itself. I could keep down my nausea if I thought it really was a stunningly shrewd political move. But actually I think Brown is in danger of being too clever by half.


Blogger skipper said...

The Maggie photo-call was more about destabilising Cameron than winning former Tory votes, in my view. Genius in the Talleyrand class? Doubtful, merely doing what he did so effectively to Blair for a decade or more. No real costs to the ply either as what can Maggie do to hurt him? If she criticises him, he can dismiss her as 'bit doddery these days' but she's unlikely to as it's fairly obvious she was delighted to be invited in the first place and had to be restrained from writing a hand written note upon hearing he had praised her. Ozymandias's dictum come to mind?

12:54 pm  

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