If any of Brown’s new hires walk away before the election it will be seen as a sign that Brown is done for. As one senior government source told Hinsliff, 'Gordon can't allow Stephen to walk away, it would reflect on him. People would say he was impossible to work with'. Equally, the old Brownites are unlikely to take kindly to being squeezed out now that they have reached the summit: Douglas Alexander must have been seething to read his political obituary in The Observer this morning while those who have been with Brown for years won’t be thrilled by the new boy Stephen Carter moving into the office of the recently departed Spencer Livermore, the funeral baked meats coldly furnishing the marriage table never goes down well.
So, the nightmare for Brown is that his old guard start briefing against and trying to force out his new recruits. After all, the original Brownites spent a decade honing their skills at fighting their own side and it is hard to believe that the PR execs and ad men who Brown has hired would be any match for them once the back stabbing starts. Labour people are already thinking along these lines, with one former minister telling Hinsliff, 'I am not sure [Carter is] going to last'.
The challenge for Brown is to persuade his old loyalists not to seen the new recruits as a threat and to get the new hires to appreciate that they can’t start things from scratch however much they may want to. If Brown can’t do this, these much heralded changes will accelerate his fall rather than giving him a second chance.