James Forsyth

We are about to see Brown doing what he does best

We are about to see Brown doing what he does best
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Gordon Brown’s greatest political achievement was to be the heir presumptive to the Labour leadership for 13 years. For more than a decade, there was not a day when he was not the favourite to take over once Tony Blair had gone. Brown did this through a whole variety of methods, including plenty of brutal, low politics. But there was a deep tactical sense behind it. He had an ability to consistently outmanoeuvre his internal opponents, to manipulate the Labour tribe better than anyone else.

This achievement has been part of the reason why Brown has failed so comprehensively as Prime Minister; it led him to over-develop certain muscles and under-develop others. But it is also why most people think he has a better than 50 percent chance of surviving until the next election despite polls having the Labour party in the teens and behind the Lib Dems.

We can be sure that Brown’s reshuffle in both timing and scope will be designed to wrong-foot the plotters. Cabinet ministers, who have hardly distinguished themselves when it comes to standing up to the Prime Minister, will be forced to make decisions about whether to bind themselves to Brown or join the rebel forces far earlier than they would like.

Charging the guns is not without risk for Brown, but it offers him his best chance of survival. Certainly, Marshal Foch would approve.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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