Howells: 'Incompetent aides have failed Brown'
Friday 15 January 2010
Kim Howells has launched a withering attack on "incompetent" Downing Street backroom staff.
He protested that highly paid aides at No 10 had failed to say "very hard things" to the Prime Minister about improving his public image.
Mr Howells admitted the party had been "struggling" since the failed leadership coup nine days ago. He said: "I'm an eternal optimist about our ability to win the election, but we took a bit of a blow last week – it's set people back a bit."
Mr Howells, the MP for Pontypridd for 21 years, said he had never supported ousting the Prime Minister "because I always thought things would change at No 10".
He said: "People around him self-evidently were failing to communicate Gordon's strengths, which he did manage to communicate during the most critical period after the immediate failure of the American banking system.
"They never managed to capitalise on that. They were, I think, incompetent and it seemed to me there was real evidence there were people in very important places not capable of saying very hard things to the Prime Minister."
He said Mr Brown's team should have urged him to be "more himself" and "much more open about what he believed about a whole range of issues and more accessible to the public".
The former minister said: "Some of these people who are very highly paid haven't done a very good job of projecting him. The public perception of Gordon Brown is not the perception I have of him – he is a much more solid individual than is portrayed publicly."
He said the problem of projecting the Prime Minister's strengths to the country still remained two-and-a-half years after he succeeded Tony Blair. But Mr Howells added: "There is still time for them to do it."
His comments echoed the scathing criticism of the Downing Street operation in a new book by Peter Watt, the former general secretary of the Labour Party.
Mr Howells told The Independent that he had been encouraged by Mr Brown's recent performances in the Commons. He said: "His strongest moments in Prime Minister's Questions have been over the last few weeks when he has been less defensive and more ready to attack from the ground he knows best, such as the shambles of Cameron's position on the nation's finances."
Mr Howells said that the delay by cabinet ministers in endorsing Mr Brown last week had aggravated the party's problems.
He said that he wished some had been "a bit more energetic" in supporting the Prime Minister, admitting the delays had fuelled speculation over his position.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...