Martin Bright

Why now, Gordon?

Why now, Gordon?
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Considering the dire situation in which Gordon Brown finds himself, yesterday's speech was really rather good. It gives the party faithful something to cling on to as they begin the grim task of campaigning for a Labour victory in 2010.

The obvious question for me after hearing it, though, was "why now?" How can the Prime Minister credibly offer a message of change two years into his premiership?

Think back to 2007 and the first flush of the Brownite dawn. His initial offer to the British people was constitutional reform. I know he was already beginning to be persuaded of the arguments for the alternative vote system at this point. The people around him were happy to talk about it. Why didn't he go for it then? And abolition of the hereditary peers: why wait?

Around the same time he announced a review of 24-hour drinking. Why wait two years to implement changes?

Then there are the U-turns. Why spend two years arguing against free care for the elderly and the suspension of compulsory ID cards and then announce the climbdowns as if they were triumphs?

The answer is that Brown and the people around him became over- confident in the early days of the handover. It was this suicidal hubris that led to the "vote Brown get Blue" nonsense of the 2007 conference. The Great Triangulator can never quite resist stealing the rhetoric of the right and we saw more of the same with the reinvention of the "Respect" agenda and the proposals for hostels for teenage mothers. But to what end? It certainly did nothing to dissuade The Sun from switching allegiance. It won't be long before The Daily Mail is his only friend in media land.