The Spectator

Team Brown’s psychological warfare

Team Brown's psychological warfare
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Gordon Brown has spent a large part of his honeymoon trying to destabilise the other two parties. As Jackie Ashley, whose columns will be essential reading in this new Brown era, writes today:

“The offers to Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams, and the roles for Julia Neuberger and Anthony Lester, may not have been the final deadly daggers in Menzies Campbell's back (there were too many worried Lib Dems already), but it looks as if a plot to oust him is gathering force. If it produces a new leader, such as Nick Clegg, who will give the Conservatives a tougher time in their marginals, Brown will be delighted.”

Brown is also attempting to short circuit project Cameron; hence all the talk of an early election that Labour could not afford, the emphasis in Quentin Davis defection letter on Cameron’s supposed vacuity and Brown’s closest lieutenants Ed Balls and Alistair Darling fuelling the rumours that there are more Tories about to jump ship.  Ashley’s column fans these flames,

“Friends of Iain Duncan Smith, working on social justice for Cameron, say he too makes warm private noises about Brown's seriousness. And after the Quentin Davies coup, I'm told there are more Tory defections expected. In other words, as Cameron struggles to drag his party towards the centre, "Tories for Brown" are peeling off round the back.”

The purpose of all this is to get the Tories to panic—or at least have the press write about the Tories panicking. The Brown camp has succeeded to the extent that George Osborne was asked about Cameron being replaced by William Hague or David Davis on Sunday AM and today’s Mirror has a breathless story about secret talks to “Dump Dave”.  The challenge for the Tories is to stay calm and give the media nothing to feed off. But the Brownites have set things up so that a poor performance from Cameron at PMQs on Wednesday will set off a new wave of speculation.