A friend of mine, a BBC producer, sends this text message: “I’m watching the PM ‘relaunch’ from behind the sofa. The slow public death of Mr Brown continues. Painful to watch.” Difficult to disagree too much. My thoughts:-
1) “It’s been a bad night” he started – woops! Wrong soundbite. That one was for use on Friday morning. He tries again. “It’s not been the best weekend, let’s say” – cue flash of weird smile.
2) “I think it’s true I’m a more private person in a public arena” – yip, an introvert in an extrovert’s job. But this is just a small part of the problem
3) “I come from a pretty ordinary background. We as a family felt the pinch when things went wrong.” This is a new one, and it’s not entirely convincing.
4) “I am resolute and determined. I have conviction and ideas.” No one who is resolute and determined actually says a sentence like this.
5) “Economic downturn that started in America “ – ie, its all Uncle Sam’s fault. Even the plunge of sterling, to which so much pain can be blamed?
6) “I feel the hurt that they feel. Petrol prices have gone up” – and two-thirds of that rise is his tax, which he could strike out in an instant if he chose.
7) “The Conservatives are saying they would just walk away from these problems and leave people defenceless against them – ahh, the Big Lie. I’d love to know what he bases this on. He repeated his “slick salesman” jibe, obviously the key attack line now.
8) “Inflation is relatively low compared to other countries” – he keeps oscillating between his “things are fine, you ungrateful lot” and “You’re right, I feel your pain”. He should decide on one line and stick with it.
9) “I made a decision that we have to build 3 million new houses over the next period of time”. Problem is, Britain isn’t a dictatorship and the decision isn’t his to make. He’s asked housebuilders to do this, and the slump in the market means they have told him it’s impossible. So Brown is misleading the public in suggesting this is anything other than his aspiration.
10) Do you feel chastened? Marr asks. “Of course. I feel responsible”. This may give people the mea culpa headline they seek.This was a restatement, not a relaunch. It will do nothing to assuage the increasingly mutinous Labour MPs. This could get very messy indeed.