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15 March 2010

Why Brown will seek to stay Labour leader if he loses

And may be more likely to go if he wins the election.

By James Macintyre

The BBC is reporting that Gordon Brown indicated in his radio interview on today’s Woman’s Hour that he would “keep going” if he were to fail to gain a majority at the election. This will be met with incredulity by some, but I first reported it here.

I have long believed that, given what Jeeves would call the psychology of the individual, there is as much chance that Brown may go weeks or months after securing a victory (and whatever the media shifting of goalposts, a hung parliament would be a huge victory for a man written off so comprehensively until last week) as he would stay were he to lose.

I have been told, by someone close to him, that if Brown doesn’t win, he will draw on the fact that Labour generally does not oust its leader after losing an election. It didn’t do that to Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson or Jim Callaghan. Brown would feel a duty to stay on. “You mark my words,” said the aide, months ago now.

On the other hand, were Labour to retain office, there is a chance that Brown may feel his work is done, and make way for a new generation. Then again, perhaps not.

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