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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Press field day over 'bottler' PM
Sunday papers
They may be tomorrow's chip paper, but the Sunday editions will make painful reading for the PM - or "Bottler Brown" as many are calling him.

His decision not to hold an early poll has fired the gun for that cruellest of sports - a press field day.

Mr Brown gets a thorough going over in both the broadsheets and the tabloids.

And in what is surely a first, both the Mail on Sunday and Independent on Sunday opt for the same headline: "Brown bottles it."

Papers of all persuasions agree that the PM's "dithering" has damaged his reputation for strong leadership and as a conviction politician.

Predictions of a stronger than expected Tory fightback also abound. Most cite Conservative tax proposals as the decisive factor in their sudden turnaround in the polls.

And just as it was "The Sun Wot Won It" in 1992, the News of the World says it "killed" Election 2007 with a poll showing the PM would lose his majority.

Mr Brown is now "on notice" and vulnerable to attacks from the Labour left, it warns. He has "squandered" the political capital gained since taking over from Tony Blair.

In the Observer, Mr Brown is facing a full-blown "political crisis" and will "pay for his unwise gamble".

Columnist Andrew Rawnsley predicts the retreat will "prompt a reassessment of the Prime Minister that will not be to his advantage".

The Sunday Telegraph also devotes acres of space to the prime minister's "climbdown". But its editorial concludes his decision is "the right one".

Columnist Matthew d'Ancona taunts the PM that his "colour will now be yellow" and that he has "only himself to blame".

In the Sunday Times Mr Brown is "all mouth and no trousers" - helpfully illustrated with a mocked-up picture of the PM in his boxer shorts.

It concludes he is a "victim of his own spin" and says the country will think less highly of him.

Meanwhile, an article by Tory leader David Cameron claims that the Tories are ready but the PM is not.

The Independent on Sunday's John Rentoul says Mr Brown has gone from "sure-footed statesman to nervous wreck" in the space of a week.

An editorial concludes it is the "right decision, wrong reason" and that having promised to play straight, Mr Brown looks "insincere" after stoking election speculation.

A Shrank cartoon depicts a sweating PM gnawing fingernails emblazoned with the words "No. Yes. No!"

The Mail on Sunday also expects the PM to "pay a high price for his cynical game". Its columnist Julia Langdon says the episode has highlighted Mr Brown's fatal flaw - the "funking" of make-or-break decisions.

However, the Sunday Mirror offers a ray of hope, arguing that Mr Brown has shown he is fallible, but now has time to prove himself the "remarkable" PM that he is.

The Sunday Express says Mr Brown - hailed by Tony Blair as the "clunking fist" - has been immortalised as the "clucking fist" by internet jokers. The paper's opinion column also accuses him of playing chicken over an early poll.

"Gutless Brown proves he has no stomach for a fight," it declares.

Scotland's most famous "son of the Manse" gets an equally rough ride on his home turf. Scotland on Sunday claims he faces a crisis of confidence amid concerns that he has "lost his nerve".

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald laments a week in which the "Brown bounce led to an own goal". The Scottish Mail on Sunday reports SNP leader Alex Salmond's quip that the PM is "not so much the Grand Old Duke of York - more the big feartie from Fife".

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