Britain's Brown Ponders Reality TV Offer

By: David Stringer
By: David Stringer


LONDON (AP) -- Bruised at the ballot box and savaged by critics, Britain's beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown plotted a political comeback Wednesday - armed with a raft of new policies and pondering a surprising proposal to become a reality television star.

The taciturn Scot led his party to their worst municipal election defeats in 40 years earlier this month and has seen his reputation for economic competence crumble over the credit crunch and bungled tax changes.

With a possible special election defeat looming next week, and emotive parliamentary battles over terror laws, abortion and stem cell research pending, one governing Labour lawmaker has suggested Brown is likely to be soon deposed.

Brown was scheduled Wednesday to give lawmakers in a speech to Parliament a preview of next year's legislative program, outlining proposed new laws focused on supporting families, shoring up Britain's housing market and improving schools.

But the ex-Treasury chief, who replaced Tony Blair in June, could also be looking to Donald Trump for new inspiration - weighing an unlikely charm blitz centered on an "Apprentice"-style TV show for young would-be lawmakers.

The plan was disclosed in a document carried from a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. It recommends that Brown should star as a judge in a new British Broadcasting Corp. reality TV show.

Blears left Brown's office on Tuesday holding a printed copy of an e-mail sent by a TV producer to one of her advisers.

Close-up photographs of the document published by British media showed how it listed details of a planned TV program called "Junior P.M.," which the note says would be "a golden opportunity" for Brown to ditch his sometimes glum image.

A spokesman for Blears confirmed there has been contact with the producers over the proposals.

Brown has made repeated attempts to soften his sometimes dour demeanor in recent weeks: holding talks with pop star Shakira and recording a video message for "American Idol."

But the efforts brought little reward in municipal polls on May 1, when Labour lost hundreds of local council seats and saw the main opposition Conservatives snatch control of London's City Hall for the first time.

Frank Field, a Labour lawmaker and briefly a minister under Blair, said on Sunday he would be very surprised if Brown led the party into the next national election, which must be called by mid-2010. He said Brown's personality was a "mega-problem" for the government.

Voters used local elections to bitterly protest the impact of rising food and fuel costs and a tax change which saw the lowest, 10 percent, rate scrapped.

Britain's Treasury chief Alistair Darling said Tuesday he would compensate millions of those who lost out - pledging 2.7 billion pounds, about $5.3billion, to help low and middle income workers through increased tax allowances.

Officials said Brown planned to use his speech Wednesday to kick start his government's comeback.

"The announcements ... will show that the government is on the side of the British people, supporting them as they deal with the immediate economic uncertainty and as we prepare Britain for the future," Brown's office said in a statement.

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