The Big Decision: As David Cameron Tickles the Tory Faithful in Blackpool, Which Way Will Gordon Brown Turn? Our Political Editor, Martin Bright, Identifies the Raw Emotions and Calculations That Will Guide Him through the Election Fever

By Bright, Martin | New Statesman (1996), October 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Big Decision: As David Cameron Tickles the Tory Faithful in Blackpool, Which Way Will Gordon Brown Turn? Our Political Editor, Martin Bright, Identifies the Raw Emotions and Calculations That Will Guide Him through the Election Fever


Bright, Martin, New Statesman (1996)


Courage. It is quality that both obsesses and torments Gordon Brown. He has now written two books on the subject: a series of profiles of his political heroes and a companion volume on ordinary people who have shown extraordinary bravery.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But as he prepares to take the most momentous decision of his political life--whether or not to call a snap election this autumn--he will need all the inspiration he can muster. The Tory conference was not the car crash some expected it to be. David Cameron may not have pulled off the best speech of his career, but it was impressive enough to rally the troops. Brown is no longer fighting a Conservative Party in disarray.

Despite Brown's reputation as the most successful political streetfighter of his generation, his political career has been dogged by a single nagging suspicion. Is he a "bottler"?

When John Smith died in 1994, should he have held his nerve and faced down the challenge from Tony Blair? Many in his inner circle still feel he should not have bent to pressure to stand aside. Then, through the bitter days of the Blair-Brown struggles, the chancellor's courage was often called into question, although some would argue that his dogged patience was a form of bravery in itself, eventually rewarded with the top job after a ten-year wait. But there were also the highly corrosive charges that he would absent himself at moments of crisis for the government.

As Prime Minister, Brown has surprised many people, including those in his own party who did not believe he had it in him. His handling of the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, the foot-and-mouth crisis and the summer floods was decisive (as Brown himself was quick to suggest in his speech to Labour's conference, as he paid tribute to the fortitude of the British people).

As his team make their final calculations, the polling analysis being carried out in Labour's election bunker is the most sophisticated yet. Thanks to the technology of the specialist software Mosaic, Labour has long been able to segment the population into dozens of social categories. The information they have built up (akin to the information supermarket chains hold on us), means the party's election literature will be carefully tailored to voters, be they "new-town materialists" or "urban intellectuals", according to the colourful labels of the polling world. Richard Webber, the creator of Mosaic, has been saying for some time that the message produced by the software (when matched with polling information) is that the Labour heartlands are growing ever more disillusioned with conventional politics. These groups, with names such as "Coronation Street", "white van culture", "rust belt resilience" and "older right-to-buy", were as much Brown's target as was Middle England. "British jobs for British people" was meant for both. Although these Mosaic groups are not usually associated with marginal seats, they could make the difference in a close vote and represent many of the millions who abandoned Labour at the last election.

Although I am told the decision on whether to call an election remains on a knife edge, the more personal the attacks by the media or Tory politicians become, the more likely it is that Brown will call an election. He was particularly hurt by the suggestion in the Times that his conference speech was plagiarised from American Democrat politicians. One aide said: "The behaviour of the Tories and some sections of the media shows they are already electioneering. Why should Gordon put up with another six months of this when he can't fight back?"

At times since the Labour conference, the PM has been in a state of barely controlled fury. I am told this grew to a crescendo during the conference speech by the shadow defence spokesman, Liam Fox. If Britain does go to the polls, the following passage may turn out to be the tipping point: "You, Prime Minister--in your self-indulgent, plagiarised, 67-minute speech, how much did you dedicate to Iraq, Afghanistan and our armed forces? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Big Decision: As David Cameron Tickles the Tory Faithful in Blackpool, Which Way Will Gordon Brown Turn? Our Political Editor, Martin Bright, Identifies the Raw Emotions and Calculations That Will Guide Him through the Election Fever
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.