For a while now I have been thinking that Brown is willing to offer Blairites a new Granita, inevitably shorter, given his age and experience (read: the fact that he isn’t PM yet, but the public is already tired of him). Confirmation comes today, through Jackie Ashley’s column. She appears to be arguing that Tories fear Brown more than they fear Miliband, but in the end her message looks much simpler: please, please, Blairites, give Brown a chance (and he will reward you):
Come the general election it will not just be a choice between one man or another. The teams matter too. On the Tory website the team, and their problem, are vividly displayed: one young guy in an open-necked shirt at the top, and a platoon of fusty-looking characters in ties. Brown’s cabinet will be the reverse – a mature character in charge, and a lot of young faces around him.
Brown has been telling friends that he does not intend to be leader for ever, but to pass on within a few years to the next generation. Now he needs to embody that message in a new team.
The offer is now public. Miliband only needs to decide whether he’ll be happy to be Chancellor – or maybe Foreign Secretary – or whether he wants the top job. After all, not only today Brown can offer less than Blair could in 1994, but also his offer will inevitably appear not as juicy as Blair’s offer looked to him then: because it has happened already; because the Tories are on the rise, and because Miliband might actually have a chance if it came to a contest.