OPINION: Under Brown, spin doctors like me are out

The local election results may be bad for Labour, but at least with Tony Blair departing soon we can get back to some normal politics.

The last year or so has been anything but normal and that's all because the Prime Minister decided to stay on too long. Even worse, he ‘pre-announced' his retirement without naming a date - causing confusion and bitter division within Labour ranks. At the same time the Tories finally came to their senses and elected a leader who is far more in touch with the voters than the past incumbents.

But once we have a new PM facing the new Tory leader - and no distractions such as leadership ­races and Blairite outriders sniping from the sidelines - the real fight can commence.

The early signs for Gordon Brown are promising, with people such as John Reid recognising that unless the Labour Party is united it will do as badly in the general election as it has in the locals.

Brown may have said that he is responsible for the bad local election results as much as Blair but he knows this to be utter rubbish. Privately he blames Tony Blair 100 per cent and no more so than in Scotland.

In the Chancellor's homeland, the rise of the ­Nationalists has been written up as a huge problem for the next PM, but on reflection I'm not so sure. For a start, come the general election, a vote for the SNP will be an obvious wasted vote and Labour is bound to perform much better. People also fail to see just what an easy ride the Nats have had. They are a political PR person's dream. They have just one policy - independence - and, given its unpopularity, that will be decided with a referendum. On everything else, with no ideology they simply support whatever is most popular with the voters.

Brown knows that the policy fundamentals are not that bad. The economy is still strong and even Labour's fiercest critics can't dismiss the massive increases in spending on health, education and crime. The real problem he faces is the tarnished image of the New Labour brand.

The Chancellor was never happy using ‘New' in front of Labour and I don't expect the word will ­ever pass his lips again.

There will be no revolution such as Cameron's, but there will be an obvious difference from Blair. Troops will come out of Iraq and there will be no more needless foreign adventures.

Equality will be back in vogue and cabinet government will make a comeback. Spin doctors like me, though, will not.
charlie.whelan@haymarket.com

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