Monday, October 08, 2007

Brown Faces the Music, British Politics Faces the Future


Gordon Brown's press conference was not a happy sight, but it wasn't a disaster either. Brown himself may not have gone quite as far as many would have liked him do, in admitting the effects of the polls in his 'no election' decision, but he did take responsibility for the issue as a whole, and he did have to go through the somewhat humiliating experience of listening again and again to journalists taking him to task for deception. Several of the BBC journalists, led by Nick Robinson, were particularly brutal in the way they phrased their 'questions'. Hell, perhaps, hath no fury like a press pack scorned, and scorn them he did when the prime minister decided to make his decision known to just one, rather tame, inquisitor. But we need to wait and see whether or not today's press conference represents a general turning away from Brown by formally submissive followers of the New Labour creed, or whether it was simply the journalistic lancing of the boil of resentment.

David Cameron, meanwhile, followed up his recent comeback with an effective, and suitably outraged, Commons performance, when he challenged Brown on the ambiguous numbers that have been given about troops returning from Iraq. "This is about dealing with people's lives" was a strong line to take, and Cameron used his opportunity well. This could make for a very interesting Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

And what is the outlook for British politics today? Certainly the balance between the two leaders and their parties has substantially changed, although the longevity of the change is still in doubt, for all Cameron's current strong showing. Richard Ehrman in the 'First Post' goes further in believing that the lower tax issue may be heralding a sea-change in the British political weather towards new ideas which the Tory leader would be well advised to grab. BBC Online's Nick Assinder, in his comprehensive analysis, also concludes that we have seen a change in the political landscape. Ironic, he says, in that elections normally bring such a change about, but this time it is the non-calling of an election which has done it!

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