What must have been depressing about yesterday, from the point of view of Labour MPs and activists, wasn’t that they lost the non-election, wasn’t that they had got their hopes up to crush Cameron only to see them dashed, it is the dawning collective self-realisation that nothing has changed with New Labour’s new leader.
Of course Brown’s enemies have always said that, but Labour activists wanted, even believed, that Gordon and his moral compass would change their party’s direction. When Oliver Letwin heckled Brown yesterday in the chamber for “pure spinning” the dejected government benches did not react. Usually there would be growling and baying back at him. Nothing. They knew it was true.
The Lobby, when Brown told the press conference that the polls were not the reason he had bottled it, in the words of Ben Brogan – a journalist well plugged into the Brownies - “no-one in the room believed him”.
The voters, uninterested as they are in the goings on in the Westminster village, were half expecting an election this month, only to see a battered Brown back off. The strong man looks weakened.
Labour activists themselves are starting to feel uncomfortable, the poll lead has melted, the gloss has come off their self-anointed leader and the nagging suspicion must be growing given the blatant bold-faced lying we saw yesterday, that nothing has changed besides the name on the door. He has even started doing that inane grin thing. The new boss is the same as the old boss…