James Forsyth

A number that shows what a drag on Labour’s prospects Brown is

A number that shows what a drag on Labour’s prospects Brown is
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The news that Max Clifford is now involved in publicising the story of Baroness Scotland and the illegal cleaner is another blow to an already bruised Labour party. One of the last things that it needs is the beginning of its conference being overshadowed by a story that combines the two toxic issues of political hypocrisy and immigration violations. (There’s also talk that the Telegraph has more expenses revelations and that they will publish them in the next day or so)

But I suspect that the bigger problem for Labour, and why it won’t recover from its current dire position, is summed up by these sentences in Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s write up of their interview with Gordon Brown: “As soon as our interview begins, however, his mood darkens, and he becomes more serious, at times defensive. He seldom makes eye contact and, all of a sudden, he seems oddly impersonal and stiff.”

If Brown is in such a defensive mood when being interviewed by one of the few publications that is still broadly supportive of him, it is hard to imagine him turning in strong performances in interviews with the sections of the media that are either neutral or sceptical of him. But Brown desperately needs to turn around how the public thinks of him and it is hard to see how he can do that when he is coming across so badly in the media.

The Populus conference season poll, which Anthony Wells has analysed, shows that only 30 percent of voters think Brown is up to being Prime Minister. Considering that Brown is the Prime Minister, eg voters don’t have to try and visualise him doing the job, this is a devastating number. (Cameron is at 59 percent). It is hard to see how Labour can have any hope of turning things round until Brown’s number rises to 40 percent or more. And it is hard to see how that happens without Brown presenting himself to the electorate in a more persuasive way.