What if it’s not the economy, stupid?

June 23, 2009

Gordon Brown is counting on a swift economic turnaround. It’s probably his Labour Party’s only hope of avoiding a humiliating electoral defeat to the Conservatives next year.

The latest news on the economy has certainly got people in Downing Street smiling. The housing market is stabilising and some commentators are even talking about Britain becoming the first major country to pull out of the recession.

Treasury forecasts of reasonable growth that were derided just two months ago suddenly don’t look so bad.

The Number 10 dream scenario is that the economy recovers strongly, Brown takes the credit and the polls turn in time for a May election.

But what happens if the economy does turn around by the end of the year and the polls don’t get any better?

If that happens, some party strategists are wondering whether that might be a good time for Brown to step down, say in January.

He could say he did what he set out to do — get Britain through the recession — and it was now time for a new face.

The honeymoon bounce could end up being Labour’s only hope.


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It would be a shame if Brown is forced to step down. His premiership has been characterized by a calm and diligent approach to tackling the recession and leading the country to recovery. In fact, Brown has implemented several highly successful policies with little on paper to discredit him. He has been a victim of a vicious and frenzied media attack, borne out of nothing more than a mindless rally-call for change. Why do people want change? Because they cannot embrace the concept of consistency – because they “feel” it is time for a change. This current anti-Brown ‘craze’ is grounded in ‘copycat’ emulation of the ‘nasty neighbour’ who has garnered all they need to know from the right-wing tabloids. In other words, it stems from emotive propaganda, where there has not been even the slightest scrutiny of policy. There is nothing in Conservative economic policy that suggests that a Tory government would be any more adept than a Labour one. In fact, quite the opposite. In Osborne’s “new economic strategy” the reforms merely reflect the global political shift to the centre left, more in line with social democracy than Tory democracy. The public has been stirred into a beserker ‘copy cat’ frenzy by the likes of the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph and it’s high time we all took a step back to evaluate Gordon Brown’s legacy with a cool and level head.

Posted by Wyn Yip | Report as abusive

Brown wasn’t elected as Prime Minister and self-appointed constitutional experts can protest until they’re blue in the face about how our system works, the fact is that the British people don’t like it. In a way it would be quite fitting for the man to be booted out in the same way he was appointed – by a stitch-up – but I would prefer an absolutely humiliating thumping at the polls, so that the Labour party can effectively cease to be a force in British politics for a generation at least. Finally, the idea of people in no. 10 smiling at the moment is a complete joke – even they are not that stupid. Things can only get worse during this government’s term.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

I have to agree with the view posted by Matthew, with regard to people in No 10 “smiling” at the latest news on the economy.

Things are being talked up by politicians, their supporters in the press and fund managers who want to make money from the recent bounce in the markets. But anyone who knows anything about the economy knows wery well that it’s all smoke and mirrors. All that has happened over the past 6 months is that the rate of decline has slowed, as it had to because nothing can fall at breakneck speed forever. But a slowing rate of decline is very far from the beginning of a recovery.

There is a long painful road ahead. We can expect a bounce in the markets next Spring, but that will be in anticipation of a change of government, not a continuation of the tired policies we already have.

The problem for Brown and his party is that they are faced with an unarguable historical fact. Labour governments ALWAYS promise money for everyone and drive the economy into the ground. Tory governments GENERALLY promise nothing but “kitchen sink economics” and get the economy up and running again. Regardless of their politics and the spin generated by the media, people know very well that the only way to recovery is to change the government.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive