The second most familiar figure in modern British politics is reinventing himself. When Gordon Brown delivers a warning today about international terrorism, he hopes the public will see him as a more rounded leader than before. It is a step in the process of easing his way from No 11 to No 10 Downing Street.
Mr Brown has had a session with Tony Blair's image advisers, Philip Gould and Alastair Campbell, who reportedly said his public image was too monochrome. He has, after all, spent eight years poring over the nation's finances, leaving an impression that he is a single-minded number cruncher, but nothing more. If he is to be a successful prime minister, Mr Brown must show a human side. He also has to show that he has things to say on wider issues than the running of the economy. And he needs to deal with the David Cameron taunt, that while Tony Blair is the reformer, Brown is the "roadblock".
Today's speech at the Royal United Services Institute will show the Chancellor standing for Western democratic values against their most potent threat, international terrorism. It will also put him on the reformers' side on a day when the Government faces possible defeat on the proposal to introduce identity cards. This is all in the spirit of what he told the BBC a few days ago, when he said: "I want the toughest of security in defence of people's liberty." He added, in reference to the Education Bill: "My message is reform is going to continue. This is not the last education reform."
It followed a speech, which provoked a lot of comment and a certain amount of derision, on patriotism, pointing out that Britons did not fly the Union flag in the way that Americans showed off the Stars and Stripes. And in an interview with the Daily Mirror this month, he covered almost every topic imaginable, including a promise that he would campaign for Britain to host the 2018 World Cup. None of this falls strictly within the Chancellor's job description, but Mr Brown's reinvention is being watched from No 10 without alarm, and with a certain amount of encouragement.
The public will get another reminder soon of the personal life underpinning Mr Brown's political career, when he and his wife, Sarah, have another child. Since the birth of their son, he has taken public delight in fatherhood. As he was talking to the Daily Mirror about education, he spotted his two-year-old son, John. "Hi, John - look at him ... he's trying to listen in. He's worried his education is going to suffer." By the time John is old enough to worry about his education, he will be the Prime Minister's son.Reuse content