Peter Hoskin

So what now for Brown?

So what now for Brown?
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Well done, Gordon.  You seem to have survived another attempted coup.  And not just any old coup, either.  This one may have been particularly badly organised and executed, but it was also – probably – the last one you'll face between now and the election; the last one you'll ever face in your political career.  If yesterday came with a sense of "now or never," then the tea leaves now read "never".  Bravo.

But, hang on.  This is hardly good news for our PM.  His authority is, pretty obviously, diminished.  If Hoon and Hewitt didn't manage to achieve that by themselves, then the ambiguous support from his Cabinet colleagues did – especially David Miliband.  Indeed, The Times's write-up of the whole affair makes a nod towards the juicy rumour that "staff in Mr Miliband’s office were phoning round trying to get his Cabinet colleagues to delay expressions of support."  Which, if true, is probably the closest the Foreign Secretary has ever got to wielding a knife.  Not that he'd ever resign from Cabinet, of course.

But worse for Brown is the prism this has put in front of his politics.  After a relatively stable few weeks on Downing St, things will once again be judged on what they mean for his leadership.  Policy announcements will be reported according to who, internally, they pander to.  David Miliband will be more "leadership rival" than Foreign Secretary.  And so on and so on.

The only hope for Downing St is that there's enough time between now and the election for the prism to shift.  But, somehow, you doubt it.