David Blackburn

Labour’s campaign implodes

Labour's campaign implodes
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Labour’s campaign has been dysfunctional. ‘Bigot-gate’, the concealed cuts, the absence of a spending review, open challenges to the leadership, infighting and a manifesto that read like the terms of surrender, it has been beset by gaffes and self-immolation. Last night, Gordon Brown personified the desperation at Labour’s core.

He was negative – dour predictions accompanying an ashen expression. He defibrillated the old cuts versus investment line – a lurid grope for his core vote and one that is incredible in the current circumstances. We expected all of that; what we did not expect was that Brown no longer agrees with Nick. Pitching for what remains of his position on the centre left, he threatened the spectre of a Liberal Conservative ‘Coalition of Cuts’. He concluded by saying: ‘I know that if things stay as they are, perhaps in eight days' time David Cameron, perhaps supported by Nick Clegg, would be in office.’

That, for me, was the most significant statement of the night. Brown’s long-term strategy has been to serenade Nick Clegg in order to encourage centre left voters and Liberal Democrats to vote Labour. Everything must be seen through that prism of cynicism: his sudden passion for electoral reform, his apparent devotion to a new style of politics, his gentle lectures on the future of ‘progressive politics’. Andrew Adonis and Douglas Alexander aided Brown’s efforts earlier this week in an interview with the New Statesman.

It is to Nick Clegg’s credit that he resisted this obvious courtship. Polling lower than Michael Foot and facing electoral perdition, Brown ditched the campaign strategy and came out snarling. That doesn’t seem to have worked either. Alistair Campbell is right: Labour’s had it.