It was only earlier this week that I was considering another instance of poor judgment by the steadfast, medium-term, prudent defender of the colour Broon. It is now clear that a week is a long enough time in politics to include more than one instance of judgment drift. Because the Government have just been defeated on a motion put forward by the Lib Dems, on the subject of former Gurkha soldiers and their right to settle in the UK. Also, I’m glad to see that the BBC's Nick Robinson has reached a conclusion very similar to my own.
Of course, Gurkhas have been fighting for us for many, many years, and without a right to settle here, and the issue has been seized upon by a shamelessly opportunist Tory Party, but part of the job of Prime Minister is to see the curve balls coming. Pa Broon seems to have missed this one in flight: perhaps he needs someone to install a sight screen.
Tony Blair had Alastair Campbell to provide the focus and highlight the hazards. Who advises Brown? Does anyone advise him? More, does he listen and act on that advice?
Because right now, not only does Pa Broon need someone on the team to “do a Campbell”, he must then listen to the advice given and act directly on it. If his judgment is shaky, then he needs someone to assist – that’s not an admission of defeat, merely an acceptance that he can’t do everything by himself.
Who might he turn to? Well, for an initial damage estimate, Alastair Campbell would be a good place to start. Also, as he’s back in the Government, Brown should swallow his pride and summon Peter Mandelson, if only to frighten the Tories. And a good man to bring in as a “conscience” figure, satisfying the Lyndon Johnson criterion, would be Charles Clarke. Finally, if Brown still isn’t minded to listen, someone should ask Sarah to sit him down with a nice dram of malt and tell him. The alternative would be messy and distracting, and perhaps even less popular.
It is, as ever, a team game, as I considered earlier.