James Forsyth

The Brown retreat

The Brown retreat
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Rachel Sylvester’s column today details how Gordon Brown is both retreating from the public service reform agenda and further into the bunker. In lots of technical ways that don’t make headlines, Brown has diluted many of the key Blairite reforms neutering their effectivemess. There is now oceans of clear blue water between the Tory education policy and Labour’s, although not that much between the Tory plans and the original intent of Blair’s education bill. However, nothing has replaced the Blairitie vision for reform.  

As  Sylvester notes:

"It's not that Gordon is going backwards or forwards, he's going sideways, like a crab," one former Number 10 adviser told me. "There's an intellectual caution and political calculation, leading to nothingness. He's behaving just like he did at the Treasury."

At the same time, Brown is still listening only to his clients. One minister tells Sylvester, “He needs to broaden his circle and fast.” Ever since the farce of the election that never was, it has become clear that the Prime Minister needs to do this but he has resisted; staying firmly inside his comfort zone instead. Things might be a lot better for Labour if Alan Johnson had won the deputy leadership and established himself as a figure who had to be consulted.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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