26 September 2009

But, Brighton comes first


After posting about the most significant interview since the millennium, us AJ4PM campaigners have to keep focused on mundane everyday matters.

So the trip is over.  It was hardly the ‘success” that Brown so desperately needed.  The initial  “snub” by Obama will stick.  For once, the Daily Mail sums Brown’s position up perfectly:

The real work is here at home, Mr Brown.

We move on, as we must, to the next chapter of Brown's cunning autumn plan that has so far failed to sell many copies.

First up, we have a poll that means little and says just the same as the last few:

The new poll shows Labour on 26 per cent, the same as last month. The Conservatives are 13 points ahead on 39, a drop of three points, and the Liberal Democrats up two to 20 points.

Mr Brown's personal ratings also remain very low, with 71 per cent of voters declaring they are dissatisfied with his performance as Prime Minister.

Next, we have Prescott launching his full body weight into Dear Harriet, saying Brown is badly advised and everybody seems despondent:

There's too much defeatist thinking. There's no central direction to campaigning.

Oh, there is the boy Balls gracelessly doing Our Dear leader’s bidding, along with other Cabinet ministers.  Then to the warm-up act before the bombs go off in Lady Scotland's face on Sunday.

So, the boys and girls go down to the pebbled beaches of Brighton, where Kinnock secured his legacy by effortlessly falling into the sea, to greet a jet-lagged Brown, who must be suffering from a stiff shoulder after all that Obama back slapping.  What will we get?  A charade sums matters up nicely.  There will initiatives, a few rabbits will pulled out of hats, false smiles, waves for the cameras and much clapping.  There will be Brown saying it all over again to Marr on Sunday morning, with the added ingredient of Iran thrown in to deflect from the non-substantial agreement at the G20.

Then we will get the speech, which few Labour MPs will bother to witness live:

According to several Labour MPs there is likely to be widespread “absenteeism” at the five-day conference, with many colleagues not bothering to attend the event at all.

Followed by the conference dinner that will less than half full:

Labour has sold a mere 330 tickets for its conference dinner in Brighton next week, in spite of booking a venue with the capacity for 800 paying guests.

One lobbyist told the Financial Times.

Our clients certainly don’t want to pay £500 a head for Labour’s last supper.

Nor is happiness a word spilling out from ministers lips.  Here is exhibit one from Andrew Grice:

Labour gathers for its last annual conference before the general election in a sorry state. When cabinet ministers admit that, it must be true – and highly significant.

"We can't expect the media to focus on the Tories' policies when he keeps dropping the ball," said one senior Labour MP, a Brownite. He described as "disastrous" the PM's handling of MPs' expenses, the Lockerbie bomber, the Gurkhas' row and his belated acceptance of the need for spending cuts.

"He won't get any credit for saving the world when all the public see are balls-ups at home," one minister said

Exhibit two comes from Steve Richards, who has also been chatting to a few insiders about the week ahead:

But of course, barely visible ministers, the few demoralised MPs who can be bothered to make the trip and the rest of the bewildered, gloomy remnants of the Labour Party are not heading for the south coast to celebrate.The talk is funereal. "I'm dreading it" was the most upbeat comment I got speaking to ministers and senior MPs in recent days. "It's going to be really depressing" was the view of a cabinet minister who fears this will be the last conference in which Labour gathers as the governing party for at least a decade, if not for much longer.

Ministers are not the only people “dreading it”

Overshadowing the whole choreographed Oscar winning performance will be the examples of other leaders who had relatively successful conferences and then weeks later were despatched with little more than a thank you.

Brown has lost the media, which was proved conclusively this week.  It would be a safe bet that even thick-skinned Gordon was rather taken aback with all the negative coverage, whilst the Americans asked themselves, ‘Is this the man ultimately responsible for releasing the Lockerbie bomber?’

The kindest that can he said about the week ahead is that the conference finishes on Thursday, after which the Irish will vote.  Then we will get Osborne’s next game changing performance followed by Cameron reminding us all why Blair was so good in his day.

After which comes the deadly pause while we wait for the polls that matter and for MPs to return to Westminster.  Only then will the ladies and gentleman of the jury retire and decide what the future holds for Our Dear Leader.

The difference being that this time we have a candidate who has now subtlety declared his intentions.

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