Patrick Wintour in the Guardian attempts to inject more zest into the febrile atmosphere of the pre-conference season by reporting that the Tories are still preparing for an autumn election. The Tory party will also have contingency plans for an election next spring, summer and autumn. It is a weak article that depends upon the obvious for its arguments.
The lack of traction in the wider world outside Westminster is clear. The overrated 'Brown bounce' has evaporated far more quickly than Major's did in the early nineties. A strategy based upon one day headlines about Brown's 'big tent' harks back to the image of his predecessor, as much as Cameron's 'heir of Blair' riff. Except, the appointments of Mercer and Bercow, the defection of a treasurer, play less effectively than the denial of an EU referendum.
Both in strategy and in outlook, Bown may be chained to Blair, that ghost at the feast. The continuities in style and substance have become much more obvious over the summer. The spin of statements, publications and reality distorting denials repeat the drip-drip incompetence of Blair's final days. The bubble of Brown's honest renewal overwhelmed the media just as quickly as Blair's first days in office, but proved as ephemeral as all New Labour's glitz.
The parallels indicate that Brown has modelled himself on the style of the former Prime Minister far more than we have yet realised. The qualities may be very different but Brown's objectives seem designed to prove that he can do better than Blair in terms of the Project. Brown wants to prove to his party that he is a better Prime Minister, when judged on the same terms.
Is Brown determined to win four elections?