There was always a suspicion that the job Gordon Brown had coveted for so long could prove to be a poisoned chalice.

Tony Blair’s legacy was such that his Chancellor was bound to be left picking up the pieces in key areas such as health, education and law and order when he made the short move from No.11 to No.10 Downing Street.

The silver lining for Brown was knowing that at least he could hand over the economy in a reasonably good state to the person he would be choosing as his successor – although there are even dark mutterings about the scale of the job Alistair Darling faces as our new Chancellor.

But no-one could have predicted quite what Gordon Brown would face in his first few days as Prime Minister.

Although there are reports that intelligence services warned as far back as April of the possibility of terrorist attacks once Blair handed over to Brown, the thwarted attacks witnessed in London and Glasgow have undoubtedly upped the stakes considerably.

To say the new PM and his Cabinet are facing a stern test is something of an understatement. Raising the threat level to “critical” so quickly was not a decision to be taken lightly, but the way in which it was handled possibly provides a useful indicator of what we can expect from Brown’s government.

The decision was taken quickly, efficiently and explained in a very straight-forward, dare one say blunt, manner without too much of a fuss – quite a contrast already to the showmanship of the Blair years.

Unlike his former boss, Brown has always come across as more dour and serious. But it could be argued that just such a hard-nosed, solid approach has worked well in recent days and not only for the new PM himself as the clear, unfussy, considered and professional way the new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has handled briefings and statements has the Brown stamp all over them.

It could even be argued that the Brown response to what has happened feels more trustworthy.

Of course, this could all be part of a very subtle piece of manipulation by “Team Brown”. But the fact that one can’t really imagine something like “Team Brown” actually existing – whereas Team Blair was very much a part of the political landscape for the last decade – suggests that we are seeing a significant change in the way a Labour Government acts and is viewed.

It is still early days for the Brown leadership and equally it is still early days in this latest terror threat to hit the UK. Things could change rapidly in the coming days and weeks.

Some have pointed to the fact that we have enjoyed a large slice of luck so far in that none of the attempted attacks have actually worked properly as showing how Brown has bigger challenges to face.

But to use a sporting analogy, there is a case for claiming that you create you own luck. The alertness of an ambulance crew and parking attendants helped in London and the quick thinking of police, airport workers and civilians in Glasgow, combined with the failure of the explosive device to properly detonate, meant only superficial damage was caused to the airport.

In recent years we have all be told of the need to be on our guard, to be more aware of what is happening around us, to be more vigilant. So should we be thanking the fact that such messages have seemingly got through, rather than sheer luck, for the failure of these three attacks to succeed?

One thing is certain, this unexpected test of the new Brown government will continue for quite some time as the nationwide investigation intensifies.

So far so good for our solid-looking new PM, but the real test is only just beginning.


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