Peter Hoskin

Brown’s fightback is hampered by the negative stories that hover over him

Brown’s fightback is hampered by the negative stories that hover over him
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So Brown has said more about the al-Megrahi case, although he hasn't said anything particularly new.  Speaking at an event to mark the government's new "Backing Young Britain" project, the PM claimed that, "There was no conspiracy, no cover up, no double-dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances to Colonel Gaddafi".  Which is exactly the message we've heard from a string of ministers, and which has been thrown into doubt by all those published letters.  No word yet on whether Brown agreed or disagreed with Megrahi's release, when it finally came.

All this exemplifies the problem that Labour have had for months now, and will continue to have for months to come.  In theory, today's event was meant to be part of Brown's "fightback", but any positive message was drowned out by the negative stories hovering around him and his government.  You can expect a similar dynamic during the Labour party conference, which will probably reduce to another round of leadership speculation; and the Pre-Budget Report, which, if last year is anything to go by, will probably be about tension between Numbers 10 and 11.  Even the Sky debate - which, as James pointed out, is one of the few potential game-changers Brown has left - is turning rapidly into a "Brown the ditherer" story.

What chance, against this backdrop, a significant improvement in Labour's poll position?  CoffeeHousers, I leave the answer to you...