- Labour had received "a wake up call" and a "warning shot" on Thursday and now needed to renew the Labour coalition".
- Although Gordon Brown mentioned the environment once it was the international challenges of economic competition and terrorism that he kept saying must become Labour’s priorities.
- With the striving classes in mind he highlighted crime but his emphasis on more community support officers won’t impress those who have experience of their limited powers.
- He also kept highlighting the threat of the BNP and promised to do more about affordable housing and he returned to his ‘it doesn’t matter that I’m a Scottish MP’ theme of a new patriotism.
Polls suggest that Gordon Brown is currently seen as weightier than David Cameron but he is certainly much less charismatic. This morning he looked as tired as the failing Labour Government of which he has been an integral member. He’s not even much of a John Major. John Major in 1990 didn’t just represent a change of leader he was also pretty new to the public and represented a real break from the past in the public mind.
If Tony Blair was to go soon (under pressure from Labour MPs) the public might easily become bored with Gordon Brown (unless, of course, GB chooses to go the country quickly). Mr Brown might be wise to wait until closer to the expected date of the General Election. BUT: the danger of waiting, as far as Brown is concerned, is that the other stars that Tony Blair promoted on Friday – the Reid-Johnson-Blears-Benn ticket – might come to look more attractive to Labour MPs, particularly if they run together. There are more Blairites in the Cabinet than Brownites.
On BBC News 24 this morning Tony Benn made it clear that Mr Brown was not some sort of Prince of Wales figure who would automatically inherit the Labour crown. Mr Brown will almost certainly face a left-wing challenge and Blairites outside the Cabinet – like Milburn and Byers – loathe Gordon Brown and could attack dog his leadership bid.
David Cameron can watch all of this with some satisfaction. He will press ahead with his moves towards a greener, gentler conservatism. He must, however, also anticipate Gordon Brown’s attempts to appeal to the striving classes. Yesterday’s FT put up a straw man by welcoming Project Cameron’s abandonment of "alarmist" policies on crime and immigration. Noone wants alarmist policies but we must have reasonable policies on anti-social behaviour, border security, tax and national security so that Brown can get no advantage in these areas. This need for reasonable policies on these issues was examined on ToryDiary yesterday.