James Forsyth

Is the new Brown team compatible with the old one?

Is the new Brown team compatible with the old one?
Text settings
Comments

Gordon Brown’s new team at Number Ten have received rave reviews. Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer today points out how cabinet ministers who were in despair before Christmas have been given hope by the new Downing Street operation while Fraser has—in these pages—warned the Conservatives not to underestimate the new Brown machine. But this new Brown team can only work if it can come to an accommodation with the old Brown crew; something which Gaby Hinsliff’s masterful piece in today’s Observer suggests is some way off.

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. 

Written byJames Forsyth

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

Comments
Topics in this articlePolitics