Alex Massie

Is Gordon Up For It?

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Iain Martin asked a good question today:

Despite being at or near the top of his profession for two decades, the PM has no track record in fronting election campaigns. There are so few images of his public electioneering because he has done very little of it.

Curiously, amid the speculation about the possibility of the PM going to the country as early as February (the 26th is the date the Tories have circled with blue pencil as a possibility), there has been virtually no consideration of a rather important question: will Prime Minister Brown be any good in a general election campaign?

We can't be certain of the answer to this, largely because since he was elected Rector of Edinburgh University more than 35 years ago, Brown has scarcely ever needed to appear in public to persuade voters to endorse his candidacy. Of course this gives him the benefit of starting off from a position in which expectations are low and it may be that Brown's doggedness on the campaign trail will be rewarded by voters, rather as they looked fondly upon John Major's old-fashioned soap-box stumping in 1992. But that may be the best case scenario for Brown and, unfortunately for him, David Cameron is a more accomplished performer than Neil Kinnock who may well thrive on what will be, as Iain says, a more presidential-style campaign than has been customary in British politics. 

That's to say that Brown may well need to have won the election before the actual, official campaign begins.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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