James Forsyth

Brown under factional fire

Brown under factional fire
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If I was Gordon Brown, one of the things that would worry me most is how much more relaxed Labour figure are becoming about expressing unhelpful thoughts. Just today we have Matthew Taylor, Tony Blair’s former chief strategic adviser, telling The Guardian that the Brownite handling of donor-gate has been “inept” and that it’s "too early to say that the position for the government is terminal" and a minister who was dropped when Brown came to office confiding to a Sky journalist that he thinks the government is a ‘disaster.’

There’s also pressure on Brown from the opposite end of Labour’s ideological spectrum. This week’s New Statesman cover is a piece by Jon Cruddas and Jon Trickett arguing that “Labour’s essential identity is in real danger” and announcing that they intend to become, to borrow a phrase, ‘loving critics’ in an attempt to push the leadership back onto the right course.

So, Brown finds himself squeezed between two factions who want very different things from him. Any old-school language designed to reassure Cruddas and co will irritate the Blairites and embolden them in their criticisms of him and vice-versa.

These factions might be small in the number at the moment but as the Tories have amply demonstrated in recent years there’s nothing the press likes more than a splits story and nothing the public dislikes more than a divided party. If ‘Labour split over’ becomes a regular headline in 2008 then Brown will be in even more trouble than he is now.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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