Analysis: Brown a battler not a bottler

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown's whole life story has been about overcoming adversity and coping with tragedy, which has moulded a man who is a battler not a bottler.

There is nothing in the background of the man so committed to a sense of duty in public service, and who so stubbornly pursued his dream of becoming Prime Minister, to suggest that he would be willing to walk away from No 10 when the going gets tough.

But there comes a time for every Prime Minister when, whatever their nature, whatever the polling data says, whatever offers of support - genuine or otherwise - they receive in public, the game is up.

It happened even to the fiercest of battlers, Margaret Thatcher, when her Cabinet ministers told her bluntly that she had to quit, even though she was convinced only a handful of doubters among her MPs needed to be won over for her to stay.

Westminster watchers now wonder whether such a moment has not arrived for Mr Brown.

Cabinet ministers have quit in disorderly fashion and even the normally loyal backbencher Barry Sheerman says: "If the Prime Minister doesn't realise that, across the party, there is a disillusionment with the way the parliamentary party has been consulted, treated and valued, he is heading for trouble."

Mr Brown's reputation for confrontational in-fighting, deserved or not, has done little to win him everlasting loyalty among Labour backbenchers, many of whom now face both the ruin of their reputations in the expenses scandal and the loss of their Westminster seats.

The premier may well be prepared for another 12 months of hard slog through to an election next spring, but his panicky MPs have other priorities.

Mr Brown could yet wrong-foot his potential opponents by declaring early that he will hold an autumn general election, leaving them little choice but to fall in behind him.

Another option would be for his wife Sarah to convince him that his own failing eyesight - the Prime Minister is blind in one eye and has extremely poor sight in the other - and family priorities mean the time has come to take a back seat.

Hers would be the one voice he would certainly heed.

But another year of simply hanging on looks increasingly unlikely, however much it might be Mr Brown's first and last instinct.