Friday, November 30, 2007

Velcro Gordon

Bruce Newman argued some years ago that it seemed that some presidents had either Teflon or Velcro personalities; Reagan was Teflon, none of the mistakes attached to his eight years diminished his standing. In the UK it seems that many leaders begin being fairly non-stick but then circumstances and length of tenure increase the extent to which bad perceptions, attitudes and associations stick to them.

Like pocket lint, everything has stuck to Gordon Brown. As soon as he landed from the 'Brown bounce' he has rolled slowly downhill (I should be a poet with metaphors like that: sorry I digress). The reason that Brown's bounce was so short-lived is that the public probably wanted an instant change that was always going to be unrealistic. As soon as expectations were not met, and negative comments about him appeared in the media (which did not take long), not only were the negative associations linked to his time of office sticking to his public image but so were all the negative associations linked to the Blair years. His inability to distance himself, and the unrealistic idea that he could disassociate himself, meant that he is a perhaps less charismatic version of Blair.

The fact he is now dogged with what will be perceived as his own funding scandal, a department he was directly responsible for (at least nominally) lost data, and he is flailing in the polls means he is a sitting duck. The media and political opponents are circling to pick over his carcass - what can he do to recover? He has until 5th May 2010 but can he hang on?


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