Saturday, February 11, 2006

Heirs Apparent and Crown Princes

Stephen Pollard reports the reaction of a Blairite ally to Dunfermline as being a kicking for Gordon Brown; Mike Smithson reports that the price on Brown succeeding Blair as leader has eased since the loss. Hopes that the Brown inheritance might re-juvenate the flagging Labour Party are fading.

But how plausible were they anyway? The belief that a new Prime Minister automatically benefits from a 'honeymoon period' when he seems to represent all that is new and exciting is remarkably persistent, with John Major's surprise election win in 1992 often being cited as evidence. But there is a good argument to be made that no such honeymoon will exist for Brown.

Brown is in the uncomfortable position of being the Crown Prince, and has been since 1994. 12 years as the heir to the leadership have reduced his novelty value to the extent that, even though Blair is Prime Minister, it is Brown who looks the staler and more tired of the two. His titanic sulks, though not yet in the Ted Heath category, have made him look dour, miserable and intensely Scottish. His honeymoon will be shorter than Ann of Cleves's.

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