It is worth thinking for a second about how bad the past few days have been for Brown. We have had a poll showing Labour in third and then one with Labour recording the worst rating ever for one of the two major parties. What has, perhaps, caused equal damage to Brown is that he has done four major broadcast interviews—Marr
, GMTV, Today
and Sky News
—and not generated a single positive headline for either himself or the government. Instead, they have all been about whether there are any circumstances under which he would go
, emphasising how divided the Labour party is, or about the ethical problems of members of the Cabinet
, linking the expenses scandal to Labour. If Brown thought his announcement of National Council for Democratic Renewal would capture the country’s imagination then he must be even more deluded than his critics claim. (This is one case where Brown definitely should have listened to Harriet Harman
Brown’s reported strategy of challenging the plotters by reshuffling on Friday is probably the best thing he could do in the circumstances. It means that the plotters have to decide whether to go for it before they know what the results are: whether Labour has been beaten by UKIP, come third or worse or if the BNP has won a seat. But these polls and Brown’s failed attempt to turn the page might well have decided the minds of some wavering Labour MPs.
Someone asked me earlier what I thought the percentage chance of Brown being forced out was. At the moment, I’d say 30 and rising: Brown is more vulnerable now than he has been at any time during his premiership.