In today's column in the Newcastle Journal, I concede that I got it wrong about Gordon Brown. Well, sort of. You'll have to read to the end to find out what I mean!
This Friday, June 27, Gordon Brown will mark what, in usual circumstances, would be a significant political milestone – the first anniversary of his succession to the premiership.
When 12 months ago the newly-elected Prime Minister addressed the nation outside No 10 Downing Street, little could he have imagined how quickly his fortunes would turn around.
He spoke then of his old school motto: “I will try my utmost.” Later, in his first Labour Party conference speech as premier, he promised: “I will not let you down.”
But sadly, that is exactly what he has done. Indeed for many people, to describe the Brown premiership as a let-down would be the understatement of the century.
Over the years leading up to Mr Brown’s accession to the top job, there was a widespread view among centre-left commentators that he would be an improvement on what had gone before.
Since I was one of those who shared that analysis, this column amounts to something of a mea culpa.
We thought that Mr Brown would cast off his customary dourness once he got to No 10. We thought he would put an end to spin. We thought he would lead the Labour Party in a fresh and radical new direction.
And on all of those scores, the truth of the matter is that we got him wrong.
Part of my optimism about Mr Brown as a putative Prime Minister was based on my knowledge of him as a private man, and the hope and expectation that his personal qualities would shine through once he assumed the top job.
In all my admittedly limited dealings with them, I found he and Tony Blair to be an almost exact reversal of their public personas.
On the three occasions I interviewed Mr Blair for this newspaper, I found him shy, ill-at-ease and totally unable to make even the most rudimentary small-talk.
Mr Brown, by contrast, I found charming, witty, eager to engage in conversation - in short, nothing like the grim Stalinist control-freak he is now widely perceived as.
There were other grounds for optimism. Mr Brown had always portrayed himself as the serious one in the Blair-Brown partnership, and after a decade of showmanship from Mr Blair, the public seemed ready for that.
Allied to this was a feeling that the new man would eschew then reliance on spin that tarnished the Blair era - “not Flash, just Gordon” as the slogan put it.
It could have been a winner, but as the commentator Jonathan Freedland pointed out this week, Brown himself put paid to it by his behaviour over the election-that-never-was last autumn.
“The effect was to show that Brown was as much a calculating schemer as anyone else in the trade – he just wasn’t very skilful or subtle at it. Not flash, just a politician,” he wrote.
But above all, our optimism about Gordon Brown was based on his long record of championing the social justice agenda within a government that often seemed careless of traditional Labour values.
He, after all, was the Chancellor who quietly redistributed billions of pounds to the worst-off in society via his system of tax credits.
He was the man whose successive comprehensive spending reviews pumped billions more into the vital public services on which the worst-off in society most depended.
And he was the man who, each September, would stand up and reassure the party faithful that real Labour “var-lews” as he called them had not been forgotten despite all appearances to the contrary.
Was he just playing to the left-wing gallery all that time? Well, it would seem so.
When Mr Brown took over, the expectation was that he would “hit the ground running” with a blitz of an announcements designed to signal a clean break with the Blair era.
In his statement outside No 10, he appeared to encourage that view, declaring that this would be a “new government with new priorities” and concluding with the words: “Now let the work of change begin.”
But to paraphrase an old political joke, while he may have been elected as New Brown, but he has governed very much as Old Blair.
So there has been no attempt, for instance, to tackle the widening inequalities in our society, or address the decline in social mobility that occurred throughout the Thatcher-Major-Blair years.
And far from drawing a line under Mr Blair’s foreign policy disasters, if anything last week’s press conference with President Bush showed him in full Blair mode.
Our expectations of Mr Brown weren’t purely based on wishful thinking. Radical plans for his premiership were indeed drawn up before he took over, some of which were briefed in advance to journalists.
But when it came to the crunch, Mr Brown bottled it, just as he bottled out of the election and just as he has now bottled out of taking on David Davis over 42-day detention – a decision he may well come to regret.
The real tragedy, though, is that we didn’t really get Mr Brown wrong at all. He is indeed all those things we always thought he was.
He is a decent, serious man with a passion for social justice and an overriding concern for the underdog. What he lacked was simply the political courage to be himself once he got to No 10.
That fatal loss of nerve is the single biggest reason why Gordon won’t be hanging out the bunting as he marks his first anniversary this Friday, and why his primary emotion will be one of relief at having lasted even a year.
I for one would currently lay reasonably long odds against him making it to two