Is Matthew Parris right about Gordon Brown?

by Stephen Tall on September 6, 2007

Former Tory MP and Times columnist has this to say about the new Prime Minister in today’s Times:

I keep saying this – but the man hasn’t got the ghost of a plan. Not an idea in his head. Anyone with ears to hear could guess as much from his speech and media interviews on Monday. “Citizens’ juries” across the country to advise the Government on policy? Spare us. Why doesn’t he advise the Government? He’s the Prime Minister.

What leaps from Mr Brown’s interviews is not the intellectual colossus that some of my Fleet Street colleagues describe, but an ambitious school bursar with a powerful ego, a good head for figures and a big gap in his brain where a creative political imagination ought to be. Mr Brown interviews like a frightened man, desperate to bore and bulldoze his way through 15 minutes without saying anything.

So far, the new New Labour leader has enjoyed the infamous ‘Brown bounce’ courtesy of confounding expectations. Indeed the Tories (foolishly) and the right-wing press (ignorantly) had set the bar so low for Mr Brown prior to his succession that it would have been almost impossible for him not to have cleared it, short of setting fire to his own trousers at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Brown is now reaping the reward of the Tories’ customary complacency.

But, beyond the clever tactics and shrewd stratagems, where are the policies? Where, as Ming has repeatedly asked of David Cameron, is the beef? What is Mr Brown’s vision for Britain?