Brown presents himself as a modern-day Churchill?
The prime minister didn't promise "blood, sweat, tears" or "to fight them on the beaches" but try reading this quote from the prime minister's speech this morning in a gravelly Churchillian voice and you'll see what he was up to:
"We are weathering the storm; now is no time to turn back. We will hold to our course. And we will complete this mission. We have got through this storm together but there are still substantial risks ahead. There will be bumps in the road. And I believe the only way to overcome them is by displaying the same strength and resolve as we did during the crisis. I will not let you down."
The prime minister's pursuing the strategy of presenting himself as a modern day Churchill which I first outlined last September when I wrote that:
"For months now, party strategists have believed that Gordon Brown's best chance of holding on to power is if the election is held in an atmosphere which feels more like 1944 than 1945 - in other words, that the country must feel that it cannot risk changing its economic wartime leader. Otherwise, they've warned the prime minister, the electorate may treat him as they treated Churchill, saying, in effect, 'thanks for all you did but now it's time to go'."
Thus today Gordon Brown describes himself as "a crisis leader" and a man with the courage to "take the tough decisions and stick to them" who is willing to tell people "not what they want to hear but ...what they need to know".
This argument was not helped by the head of M&S Sir Stuart Rose, who yesterday suggested that what people needed to know was that the government would cut its spending now. He told the BBC:
"Our customer, Tesco's customer, Sainsbury's customer etc are not stupid. They know that the UK economy is in a difficult situation, they know effectively we are over borrowed and they know there is medicine to be taken. I am an advocate of having that medicine earlier and more regularly because we know if we don't take the medicine now the medicine will be more painful for us to take later."
When I interviewed Mr Brown this morning and put this quote to him it was the only time he looked discomforted.
Beyond the political positioning, this morning's speech contained three important arguments that will shape the debate running up the election:
• He claims it's necessary to keep spending now since the private sector cannot sustain recovery on its own.
• He argues that Labour, unlike the Tories will pursue an active industrial policy in which government creates the infrastructure the country needs - high speed rail and nuclear power - and partners the private sector in creating jobs in sectors such as the digital economy, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.
• He calls for the same urgency shown by the world during the crisis to be demonstrated again so as to avoid a decade of sluggish growth and to agree a global levy on the banks.