The anxiety about the lack of a compelling narrative becomes more pronounced the closer that you get to Gordon Brown. During recent conversations with various MPs, allies, present and former Number 10 advisers, I have been struck by a unanimity of view. All agree that the Government has 'lost its way a bit', in the words of one, 'we are permanently on the back foot,' in the words of another. There is a danger that we stop thinking politically and turn into administrators.
New Labour will soon enter its eleventh year in office, a tricky age for governments as it can be for marriages. On the basics, it is still in reasonably good shape. This government has presided over prosperity, which is the single most important reason why it has defied the normal laws of political gravity for so long. Is that nearly over? Well the economy is a bit bruised but fundamentally sound and the polls could be a good deal worse. It is not a reason for Labour members and supporters to panic that they have lost the next election. What they would be sensible to fear is that this reflects a growing mood among disenchanted voters that a stale government is running short of steam, ideas and credibility. All of which can be fixed!