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Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 13:36 UK

Clinging to office...

Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel
The Politics Show

Hello and welcome...

John Prescott and Charles Clarke
John Prescott and Charles Clarke top the panel

Twelve short months ago, Gordon Brown towered over every other figure in British politics.

The new prime minister was wildly popular.

He'd been tested by terrorist attack and terrible floods to rave reviews. The opposition seemed in disarray. The Great Clunking Fist had squashed them all flat.

Sitting on the platform of his first party conference since becoming leader, he was interviewed by none other than Mariella Frostrup.

That question...

Only one question mattered. And Mariella knew it.

"So when will the General Election be then?" she ventured.

A shy smile briefly lit up Brown's craggy, saturnine features.

"Charming as you are, Mariella, the first person I would have to talk to is the Queen," came the mildly flirtatious reply.

He wasn't flirting with her. He was flirting with the entire country.

I don't know if Mariella is going to Manchester for this year's Labour Party Conference. But even if she is, I doubt Gordon will be flirting with anyone.

John Prescott and Gordon Brown
It was so very different 10 years ago

The political universe has turned on its head with a force greater than a Large Hadron Collider.

And the Great Clunking Fist is now left clinging to office.

Gordon Brown is 20 plus points behind in the polls.

He's lost local elections, by-elections and Boris Johnson is now Mayor of London. For a while last week he seemed to be losing parliamentary supporters faster than Wall Street was losing banks.

The future

On Sunday, the Politics Show will be broadcasting a special programme live from Manchester.

We'll have an audience full of Politics Show viewers.

Policeman at the Labour Conference
A tricky conference in store for the PM

There'll be a top political panel including former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott and former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

Does Labour have the right leadership - or the right policies - to win a fourth term in power?

Tony Benn always says that politics should be about policies not personalities. But if he's in Manchester this week I suspect he'll be disappointed.

Politics has always been about both personalities and policies.

Always has been, always will.

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