By Katherine Haddon (AFP) – Jan 10, 2010
LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown dismissed a failed political plot against him as "silliness", and revealed he is turning to Nelson Mandela for inspiration ahead of the general election.
Although a call last week by two former ministers for a vote on Brown's leadership fizzled out, there was a fresh reminder of the Labour premier's weakness Sunday when a former senior party figure called on him to quit.
Fighting back after a bruising week, Brown gave an interview to the News of the World insisting he was not going to spend his time "dealing with things that, in my view, have been a form of silliness."
He also vowed to serve a full term if he wins the election, which must be held by June.
Brown disclosed that he was inspired over the Christmas break by the film "Invictus", which tells the story of then South African president Mandela and the country's rugby union team at the 1995 World Cup, in the years right after the end of apartheid and white minority rule.
"The Nelson Mandela film, you will be interested to know, is about determination. And that is what I am all about," Brown said.
He also has been reading the poem by William Ernest Henley which gave the film its name and contains the lines: "Under the bludgeonings of fate/My head is bloody, but unbowed".
"Invictus is very interesting because it's a poem (Mandela) gave to the South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar and says, 'This is a poem that influenced me when I was in prison and it should influence you,'" Brown said. "The poem certainly made an impact on me."
Brown added the he has been talking to his predecessor Tony Blair, who he described as "one of the greatest British prime ministers".
"Tony and I talk a lot," Brown said. "We have kept in touch and I'll be drawing on his advice, as I always do."
Blair is expected to give evidence to Britain's public inquiry on the Iraq war within a few weeks amid reports some Labour figures are worried his testimony could prove embarrassing to the party ahead of the election.
Meanwhile, the fall-out from last week's failed leadership coup continued as Peter Watt, a former Labour general secretary who resigned in 2007, urged Brown to stand aside "for the sake of Labour".
"Gordon is a big political figure but he lacks the emotional intelligence required by a modern leader," Watt told the Mail on Sunday, which is also publishing extracts from his memoirs.
In them, Watt describes Downing Street under Brown as "a shambles... completely dysfunctional", and said of his premiership: "Gordon was simply making it up as he went along."
Despite some plotting against Brown's leadership, support for his Labour party has increased slightly in the last month, according to the latest ICM opinion poll for the Sunday Telegraph.
It gave David Cameron's main opposition Conservatives an unchanged 40 percent support, compared to 30 percent for Labour, up one percent. ICM interviewed 1,003 adults by telephone on Wednesday and Thursday.
The poll also found that 41 percent of voters thought Labour would do better without Brown as leader, compared to 35 percent who thought the party would do worse.
Cameron told the BBC Sunday that Britain "needs an election" soon. Both parties have already effectively been campaigning since the start of the new year.
"If anything the last week demonstrates that we need to have strong determined leadership from a united government," Cameron said.
"We can't get that from Labour and Gordon Brown and an increasing number of people in the Labour party seem to be saying that."
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