David Blackburn

Scorching the earth

Scorching the earth
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Tim Montgomerie is right; Peter Oborne is at his best in the Mail today – a mix of relevant history and sharp analysis of current affairs. Like Callaghan and Major before him, Gordon Brown faces electoral defeat. Brown’s predicament is deep – consistently loathed by the electorate and the target of unhatched coups and constant intrigue. How does a prime minister defend a hopeless position? Does he govern in the best interests of the country, his party, or himself? Oborne remarks about the magnanimity of Callaghan and Major and notes that Brown has not followed their example.

‘The truth is that Gordon Brown is now governing Britain purely for partisan or even personal advantage rather than in the national interest. In doing so, he hopes that David Cameron, and not the Labour party, will attract the public vitriol and hatred that always results from, spending cuts.

Gordon Brown’s only motivation in office now seems to be to try to guarantee that Britain is ungovernable if Cameron wins power. Not only is this tactic reckless and shameful, it means that the British people will pay a devastatingly high price for the last six months of Brown’s profligate government.’

Brown has given into temptation and, with single-minded intent, is scorching the earth beneath him. That phrase is not a rhetorical flourish – civil servants talk openly of Brown’s scorched earth tactics and self-interest inflects Labour policy. Henchmen and failed ministers, like Baroness Amos, have been awarded diplomatic positions, and Brown has offered the public a cynical bribe in the form of a spending package that will tie this country’s hands for decades. The collapse of our impenetrable economy suggests that Brown has a singular genius for destruction, intentioned or not. Our salvation is that the expenses scandal, Afghanistan, Brown’s comatose leadership and Labour’s barely concealed tensions limit the amount of damage that Brown can inflict.