09 February 2009

Alan Johnson can’t say what the real issue is

PoliticalBetting and Iain Dale have both commented on Alan Johnson’s interview in the Sunday Times.  The relevant bits of what Johnson is saying are:

No 10 spin doctors privately admit that attempts to paint Cameron as a bicycling chameleon, uncaring toff or insincere estate agent have failed. Polls and focus groups regularly find that voters view Cameron as “affable” and “well meaning”.

Now the strategy is shifting. The message is that Cameron may be a pleasant chap but he is a prisoner of an unreconstructed rightwing party that would destroy essential public services if it ever won power. “Cameron’s been very skilful at the way he has projected his own image onto his party. Now there is a feeling that, yes, you are a nice guy, but what is next?” Johnson said.

“Cameron’s genuine, but he is leading the Conservative party. It is not a presidential system – much as we might have disguised it under Tony. This is a party system.”Those in the cabinet with Oxford degrees in political philosophy talk about the “head-body paradox”. The theory is that a split party, with a leader leaning towards the left while the grass roots are pulling rightwards, can never win an election.

Whether Johnson was speaking off the cuff or this is going to be Labour’s new strategy will be evident in due course.

Dale correctly argues that the strategy will fail.  PoliticalBetting rather blows its own trumpet having thought of this first and concludes that Brown will not buy it.  Maybe so.

If this is to be Labour’s new attack line, it will back fire because Labour will be shown to be split as well.

Cultures of party’s evolve, they do not suddenly change with their Leader.  Not one, with the possible exception of Thatcher, has ever achieved culture change in their party.  There are elements of any party, and probably big ones, that do not agree with their leaders.  Leaders lead, as Blair once famously said.

The fundamental problem for Labour is one James Gordon Brown.  As I attempt to show in this blog, he is not up being PM, does not have the skills required, has huge personality defects, embarrasses the office he holds, has tunnel vision, can’t think on his feet, is too interested in quick fixes, chasing headlines etc. etc.


This is why Labour is in a no-win situation regardless of it’s strategy on the Tories.  Labour is locked in with Brown.  It is not sustainable that there could be two unelected PM’s in one parliament, and in any case time has run out to change.  As I posted yesterday, D’Ancona is spot on.

Much discussion will evolve on Labour’s predicament.  Only time will tell on who is right or wrong.  Presently Labour is sunk.

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