The Brownies were able to undermine a triple election winning prime minister, brief against rivals, selectively leak, obstruct, frustrate rival policy objectives out of spite and generally behave like petulant secretive plotters always positioning for factional advantage rather than in the national interest. They were capable of that, alas when they finally assumed control of No. 10 it became clear within months that they were not a capable or competent premiership team.
If Gordon is to have any hope of narrowing the double digit lead Cameron has over him at the polls he clearly needs to up his game. Stephen Carter has been brought in from his job as CEO of Brunswick to do that because the veteran Brownies are part of the problem, not the solution, too immersed in the Labour tribe, good at arm twisting the party rank and file, not at reaching out to swing voters. His PPS Ian Austin’s heckles of Cameron at PMQs amuse only the class warriors on the Labour back benches – they even manage to irritate the chippy Speaker. His counsel is no use to Gordon now the electorate that matters to him is no longer merely the PLP.
Month after month of poll decline has finally got the message through to Brown. Hence we see the marginalising of his former closest supporters, even his pollster, Deborah Mattinson is said to be on her way out. Spencer Livermore went in tears. Gordon’s praetorian guard MPs Tom Watson and Iain Austin, respectively Gordon’s attack puppy and heckler-in-chief, occupied ground floor offices in Downing Street adjacent to the cabinet room. The pair liked to think of themselves as Gordon’s enforcers. Stephen Carter has had them kicked out of their offices and their places taken by his deputy and secretary.