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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 17:39 GMT
No flash from Gordon
Sketch
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

Perhaps somebody should have a quiet word in the prime minister's ear along the lines of, "you can take the 'Not Flash, Just Gordon' idea a bit too far".

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown took a weighty approach
After all, if ever there is an occasion when a sprinkle of flash might be appropriate, then it is probably the day the monarch turns up to the gilded House of Lords in a glittering coach and horses, surrounded by all the pomp and ceremony before taking to the throne to utter your words for you.

But no. Gordon Brown seems to have decided his old, solid, un-flashy image is the one that did him most good in the past and will hold him in good stead now he has entered rough waters.

Perhaps he believes it will show David Cameron up as a bit of a flibberty gibbet, a lightweight stand-up comic sort of character.

Indeed, he attempted to slap down the opposition leader by describing his speech as good on jokes but pretty bad on policy.

Big day

It may be a decent longer term strategy, we will see. But on this particular day it meant Mr Cameron rose to the occasion (or the bait, as Mr Brown might see it) and delivered another of his confident, even cocky performances.

Not only did he at one point beckon Labour MPs to "come on and have a go if you think you are hard enough" - or something like that - but he repeatedly took up the prime minister's challenges to take him on across the despatch box.

David Cameron
Mr Cameron took up challenges
That was a bad idea from the prime minister for the simple reason it gave his opponent yet more chances to challenge him to "look me in the eye" and say he really was planning changes to inheritance tax before the Tories came up with them or that he really was not looking at the polls when he called off the election.

It meant that Gordon's big day was in severe danger of turning into David's day.

It kicked off with Mr Cameron adopting his now settled approach that Mr Brown cannot be the agent of change the country is crying out for and had proved it with a recycled programme of old or even Tory ideas.

Mr Brown could do the gestures, wear the blue tie, stand against a blue background and "even get Lady Thatcher in for tea" (not sure who that jibe was aimed at most).

British jobs

But what he could not do, Mr Cameron was suggesting, was produce a real Tory programme for change.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Gordon Brown is trying to take the nation's needs into full consideration
James Hardaker, Skegness

Well, that may come as some relief to Labour backbenchers fearful that is precisely what he is trying to do.

The Tory leader even attempted to intensify what Labour embarrassment there might be over the prime minister's latest refrain of British jobs for British workers - claiming it was a slogan stolen from the far-right National Front and British National Party.

Mr Brown glowered and ploughed on through his programme like a tractor pulling a large heifer out of a muddy ditch - it groaned and stalled but eventually got there.

It certainly seems the case that the prime minister has decided this is the approach to take to Mr Cameron, presumably in the belief it will prove more attractive to voters who will view him as the heavyweight and Mr Cameron as the opportunist.



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