This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Brown needs to be more like Bartlet

Can President Bartlet teach Brown anything?

It is nearly a year since Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.

For the first three months of Brown's Premiership it felt like things did indeed get better. Brown seemed assured, wise and statesman-like as he dealt with terrorist attacks, floods and foot and mouth.

But then things quickly deteriorated.

The most recent YouGov poll puts Labour at 23 points and the Conservatives at 47 - a Tory lead of 24 points. Number Ten staff don't appear to know what to do, MPs are dejected and Labour Party activists are demoralised. A sense of hopelessness has crept through the Party.

Brown is so petrified of losing the next election that he is struck by inertia and caution.

This reminds me of an early episode of The West Wing (the fictional US drama about President Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen).

In that drama, after a year in office, President Bartlet was languishing in the polls. He dropped 5 points in one week and his West Wing staff were fed up and rudderless. The President was blamed for always running to the centre and for being too cautious and indecisive. Character traits Brown is accused of.

In the TV programme, the solution was 'Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.' Let the President speak, raise the issues, do things he thought were right, not because an opinion poll or a focus group told him to.

In other words, to be authentic.

Authenticity is the most important character trait in politicians. Barack Obama and John McCain both have it in spades. Hillary Clinton lacked it spectacularly.

Brown needs to learn this. He has waited a lifetime to be Prime Minister and he has two years to make his mark before he has to call an election.

Over that time, he needs to steady the economy as it charters rocky waters but he also needs to be bold. Three or four big ideas would work. He should say what he thinks and do what he wants.

He should speak and be authentic.

This is a risky, high stakes strategy and it may well alienate some people but Brown still has it in him and I think its the only way he will be able to turn things around before the next election.

When Bartlet did this, he rose 10 points in two weeks.

Brown needs to remember why he entered politics in the first place and then just go for it without worrying about polling or political opportunism or 'triangulation.'

He is best when he is bold. He is best when he is himself.

We should 'let Brown be Brown.'

1 comment:

TP said...

Couldn't agree more.