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It Won’t Be Gordon 27 September 2006

Posted by David in Labour.
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John ReidI am surprised Gordon Brown is still the bookies favourite to become the next Labour leader, I just cannot see him doing it. I feel the only reason he is still favourite is because he has been seen as a dead cert and heir apparent for so long it is taking time for it to sink in. Once the challenge is real, and rivals get air time and campaigns going, the momentum will be away from him. Far more likely to win I feel is the man pictured, John Reid.

It hasn’t had the same impact as last year’s Conservative version, but Frank Luntz’s Newsnight survey of Labour voters the other night sent a clear signal to me. No-one likes Gordon Brown; smug, untrustworthy, back stabbing and Scottish are all criticisms heard. The photograph of him grinning in the car after his spat with Blair has really damaged him, and his recent media schmoozing hasn’t gone down well either. Surprisingly the audience reacted well to his sickly speech about his parents.

The other contenders all got big thumbs down too. Milliband was too young, school like and had a poor CV, no-one said nerdish but all were thinking it. They liked Alan Johnson’s life story but not the man himself. Millburn went down like a ton of bricks. Only Reid went down well, despite being Scottish (suggesting to me the ‘Scottish’ allegation may be a bit of a mask and excuse for a general dislike).

Reid will almost certainly mount a leadership bid. His recent media coverage all has a certain air about it. His recent toughness on terrorism (“any judge’s decision that puts the rights of a foreign prisoner above UK citizen’s safety is a wrong decision. Full stop. No qualification.” – don’t you wish Cameron or Davis had said that) is very popular and a breath of fresh, realistic air. His visit to a Muslim area to tell British Muslims about the need for community action and observation on extremists, and his heckling with Trevor Abu Izadeen whilst there, was all great PR.

Cameron should be most affraid of Reid, he can outflank on the right and if terrorism, crime and immigration are important at a general election, his tough, no-nonesense and plain speaking will be very popular. As for Brown, it is his leadership to lose. The SAS motto “who dare’s wins” applies. As Brown thinks he has won, he won’t dare. If the others dare, they may just win.

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