The Tories steal Labour's bicycle

Following on from the Glasgow East by-election, Gordon Brown has had a shocking summer. He had to spurn his beloved Cape Cod, and holiday British-style.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

David Miliband penned his Guardian leadership bid, Dave (Cameron) looked good in holiday snaps, no ‘Obama outside Number 10’ photo, more missing data, and Cameron went to Georgia. Worst of all, Cameron had his bike stolen and a nation collectively felt his pain. And Brown’s attempts for some Beijing Olympics stardust to rub off on him failed as Boris Johnson got a bigger, warmer reception.

What were the Government’s summer comms plans? Did it have any? It would seem absurd under its current meltdown if the silly season weeks had not been thought through. The strategy could not have been to bunk down for the summer, hoping it will all go away.

Conservative Central Office has been business as usual with numerous speeches, none as Labour-bating as George Osborne’s speech on ‘fairness’, claiming the Tories are best placed to tackle poverty to create a fair society. There is much pent-up frustration on the left about this. They are truly riled that the Tories are stealing their crown on social welfare. There is a link between the Government’s pitiful performance this summer and 900,000 more people in poverty than in 1997. It has taken its eye off the ball, and it doesn’t get it.

Cabinet members regularly pat each other on the back. Last week, when the GCSE results came in, schools minister Andrew Adonis used statistics to boast about the Government’s education success. Here is a chilling statistic – four in ten 11-year-olds are leaving primary school without a basic grasp of reading, writing or arithmetic. What are they doing during their next five years at school? Money has been poured into education, yet the gap between the very rich and very poor has never been so visible.

As September approaches, Brown is no doubt surviving on even less sleep than usual, mulling over how to have a relaunch without actually calling it a relaunch, the pendulum conference speech, and perhaps wishing he had a bike someone might steal.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team.

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