Peter Hoskin

Yesterday’s man?

Yesterday's man?
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The succession talk is chasing Gordon Brown into the weekend. Here's Martin Kettle in today's Guardian:

"A spectre is haunting the Labour party - the spectre of Gordon Brown's failure. Questions about Brown abound in Labour ranks. The concern is not, as far as I can tell from many conversations this week, primarily about Brown's policies or about the changes at No 10. The question is mainly about him. Right now, the problem is Brown himself...

...A lot is written about the growing fatalism in Labour ranks. It exists, but don't exaggerate it. There is also still a hunger for re-election, especially among younger MPs. That enduring hunger is, in my view, the real reason why Brown is under such criticism. "If David Cameron was way out ahead in the way Blair was before 1997 then people would say there's nothing much we can do about it," says another ex-minister. "But that isn't the case. People are saying Cameron can't nail it with the voters. The election is still up for grabs - but it's Gordon who is losing it for us"...

...There is positioning for the succession going on among younger cabinet ministers. And on the backbenches there is some talk - but it is only early talk - about how Brown might be ousted. A deputy leadership contest has been mooted as one proxy option. So has a stalking-horse challenge against Brown himself, of the sort that Anthony Meyer mounted against Margaret Thatcher. There has even been some discussion about a full-on leadership contest this summer."

And the ever-readable Matthew Parris in the Times:

"I sense for the first time that Mr Brown may be forced to quit...

...Speeches are made and columns written urging the wizard to hurry up and show us his magic. But the wizard hasn't got any magic. Poor wand-less Mr Brown isn't concealing or delaying his abracadabra moment. There's nothing there: nothing to get cracking with, nothing to communicate, nothing to explain.

I think his premiership is disintegrating. With no belief in the human at its centre I doubt the disintegration can be halted or reversed. I think this will become plain by autumn. One way or another, and very possibly before the next election, I think Mr Brown will go."

The problem for our Dear Leader is that such speculation is often self-fulfilling.  As the seeds of doubt are flung around, his grip on power will become weaker and weaker.