After another tawdry weekend where he had to suffer the modern political torture of punishment by memoir, Gordon Brown has shown once again that there is no more effective influence on a prime minister than the perceived direction of public opinion. Thus, his chancellor is instructed to roll out a tax cut to make up for the problems caused by Brown's own earlier budget, while Brown himself seeks to present himself as Vision Man today, notably prioritising schemes for low earners. Not a minute too soon. If he is to go anywhere over the next couple of years he absolutely needs to re-stake out his ground on alleviating poverty, and the elections will have served him a useful purpose if they remind him of this.
The memoirs he can dismiss as the short-lived revelations of political or personal rivals with an axe to grind. We enjoy them, but we don't believe them, and we certainly don't buy them. Today's political sensation is tomorrow's remainder after all. Of more concern is the upcoming Crewe and Nantwich by-election, and we have about a week to see whether Brown's remedial action can rescue the seat for him. I suspect it may not, but if the result goes against him he might now be able to take some comfort from the fact that he can honestly say, "Look, I'm listening, ok?"