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Gordon Brown's Anniversary

There'll be no conspicuous celebrations. No champagne in Downing Street. No tickertape motorcade. No nothing. The first anniversary of Gordon Brown's premiership will probably pass without anyone noticing.

But Mr. Brown might allow himself a small sigh of relief. After all, he's still here. Still running our country. Just. Still presiding over a political party that increasingly doesn't like him much - and a population that doesn't like him at all.

The sad thing is that Gordon Brown didn't do anything particularly wrong except fail to do anything stunningly right. His real fault was failing to predict the future - and in politics that can be fatal.

Tony Blair quit the top job when he realized the only way to stay level was to get out. Gordon Brown took over with the naïve belief that everything would be all right just because he was going to be in charge. Mr. Brown must have had his eyes shut. Every week brings new problems, fresh rebellions, and bigger bags under his eyes.

And so, these days Mr. Brown looks like a loser - he's already being encouraged to name the date of his own departure. Not much of a birthday party, is it?

The secret of success in politics is timing. Blair may have made himself unpopular by getting too close to George W. Bush and going to war in Iraq. But he let his old rival Gordon Brown inherit the war, the credit crunch, and the oil crisis. This poor guy never really had a hope.

So it is not an auspicious day - June 27th. I looked it up. The New York Stock Exchange crashed in 1893. America decided to send troops to Korea in 1950. And Gordon Brown shares this date with Robert Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe.

Last year, Mr. Brown was elected leader of the British Labor Party without a single opponent. His supporters made sure any potential challengers were 'persuaded' not to stand. Mr. Mugabe is going through an election rerun today. He lost the first. But his opponent dropped out after killings and beatings orchestrated by Mugabe's thugs. It's not a good day for Mr. Mugabe, or for Mr. Brown or - I'm afraid - for democracy.
By Ed Boyle