h1

Has John Rentoul got this one right?

April 30th, 2009

john-rentoul-all-over-for-gord1
The Independent

Is it really all over over for Gord?

With the Prime Minister due to face another difficult vote in the commons let’s spare a thought this morning for the person who will be preparing the daily press summary at Number 10 for Gordon Brown.

For even though BBC News regarded the defeat on the Ghurkas issue as a minor down-bulletin story yesterday (a disgrace showing an inept sense of news priorities which opens them up to a charge of bias) it’s splashed over many of the front pages – aided no doubt by the photogenic presence of Joanna Lumley.

One particularly scathing attack is John Rentoul’s column in the Independent – something that could make grim reading for a PM who is notoriously sensitive about criticism – for it goes beyond the standard analysis and describes in cruel detail how he was being laughed at.

Rentoul, a Blair biographer and certainly no friend of the Brownites, is merciless in his description and what makes it so strong is that his argument rings so true. It does appear very bad for Brown.

Rentoul writes:“..The Prime Minister has lost his way. He has lost his place in the script. You know it is over when Nick Clegg cuts it as a figure of moral authority, and Brown is reduced to making up numbers such as £1.4bn as the cost of allowing all 36,000 Gurkhas the right to live here….Brown has lost the argument about the Gurkhas so comprehensively that David Cameron did not even need to rehearse his Mr Angry act. He did Mr Bipartisan instead, congratulating Clegg for setting the pace on the issue. It was a smart bit of tactical cross-party generosity that diminished Brown further.

No, you know it is over when BBC journalists start interviewing each other about how much the Prime Minister’s “authority” has been reduced. They were at it this week over the withdrawal of Brown’s plan to reform MPs’ expenses. They used to do it to Tony Blair when he was at bay over the cash for honours investigation, but they didn’t laugh at him. Blair was spared the added humiliation of YouTube ridicule.

You know it is over when black is reported as white. When everything is fitted to the template of retreat, disarray and incompetence….”

Rentoul goes on to make the argument he has put before – Labour could stem the expected election losses by switching leader. His personal favourite is Alas Johnson. We have discussed endlessly on PB how this could happen and I do believe that there is something in Rentoul’s thinking. A lot of the Labour polling collapse is down to Brown’s unpopularity and not the party. If he is out of the way then perhaps the outcome would be different.

It’s for this reason that I’ve been quite measured in my spread-betting. I’m a Labour seller at 228 seats but I’m not risking too much just in case there is a different leader.

Mike Smithson






Comments are closed.