New PM already sounds like an old hand

Labour MPs seem to be rallying around their new leader whilst polls are showing a bounce for Brown. But what do the press make of Prime Minister Gordon?

"Only a few weeks ago, many Labour MPs had little enthusiasm for a Brown premiership," said Bruce Anderson in The Independent. "Now, the clan seems to have rallied, while it is the Tory tribe which is dismayed." Polls are showing a bounce for Gordon Brown only days into his premiership and the attempted terror attacks on London and Glasgow have elevated them even further. Brown may have been "a days-old prime minister, but he didn't sound like one", said Jackie Ashley in The Guardian. "His sober assessment of the danger and warnings of the inconvenience we will have to face... made it clear that knee-jerk responses to atrocities will be a thing of the past." His appointment of Jacqui Smith to the home office has confirmed as much, her consensual approach a stark contrast to the "tub-thumping, aggressive predecessor, John Reid".

Indeed, Brown has shown "qualities that Mr Blair lacks ones that might serve him well in Number 10", said The Economist. The broad thrust of his constitutional reform proposals, for example, are welcome, said The Times, although some question whether Brown is the right man to restore trust to politics. Take one of his final acts as chancellor, which was quietly to slash the English NHS budget from £6.2bn to £4.2bn, said Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. This from a man who says the NHS is his main priority. The money will no doubt reappear in an election year "like a big, juicy rabbit pulled straight out of Gordon's hat". Indeed, Brown's new open style may have made people think "it was bye-bye Stalin this week", said James Blitz in the FT, but "it's not bye-bye for good".

Still, David Cameron may have a challenge on his hands capitalising on such concerns. He will have to dismiss the "premium on age and experience" that Brown has now instilled, said The Times. Cameron reacted by reshuffling his shadow cabinet, getting rid of the "unpopular" Francis Maude as party chairman, said The Daily Telegraph. He must now "restore momentum" to a party that is trying to work out "how best to deal with a prime minister who is about to embark on a 100-day political Blitzkrieg". In repositioning the Tories to the centre, Cameron has made a good start, said The Times. But entering hug-a-hoody terrain, wooing social workers, "or invoking a trendy environmentalism that led to a policy of sharply increasing taxes on flights" has only served to confuse the public and party. If Cameron continues to do so, then "Brown will crush him on polling day."

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