Seaside Suffolk mobilises for 'Operation Sort Gordon's Head Out'

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"Something on your mind? You need a brainwash!" offers one of the machines at Southwold beach's 'Under the Pier' show. After a particularly fraught week and amid mounting talk of his defenestration, Gordon Brown might just be tempted to put a coin in the slot of the olde worlde amusement arcade device.

People enjoying a glorious day yesterday, on one of the most popular beaches in Suffolk, which is near the £4,500-a-week country retreat where the Prime Minister and his family will spend the next few weeks, seemed mostly to hope he would get a chance to clear his head. Others hoped that mental clarity would help him come to the realisation that it was time to go. But, as one local put it, this is "John Gummer territory", a Tory heartland with little sympathy for an ailing Labour leader.

Anna Scragg, 30, from just outside Southwold, was more welcoming: "Good for him for coming to a British beach, not like other prime ministers off to Barbados. I think maybe that will help him, and people will give him one more chance."

But if the Prime Minister thought his holiday would be a chance to get away from it all, a 68-year-old Conservative councillor, Peter Webb, was on the beach handing out flyers and ready to disappoint him. "SOS. With Gordon Brown staying in the area, we need to take this opportunity to send a clear message to him," said the leaflet inviting people to a demonstration on the promenade against "the Government's policy of retreat" in the face of coastal erosion.

But Mr Webb, like most on the beach, hoped Mr Brown would benefit from the break. "As long as he enjoys himself, has a nice holiday, and takes advantage of all Southwold has to offer, that's all we ask."