21 February 2010

Gordon Brown: The sum of all Labour’s fears

image Source: Sunday Times

Just in case you haven't read it:

Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, became so alarmed by the prime minister's behaviour that he launched his own investigations when he received reports of Brown's bullying of staff. O'Donnell then gave the prime minister a stern "pep talk" and ordered him to change his behaviour. "This is no way to get things done," he told Brown.

A far more interesting titbit from Andrew Rawnsley’s book is the revelation of Jack Straw's failed plot against Brown:

According to The End of the Party, a new book by Rawnsley, the veteran cabinet minister – who ran Brown's campaign for the Labour leadership in 2007 – told Charles Clarke, an arch-critic of the prime minister, of his plans over lunch in the summer of 2008. He said that Brown "had to go" and declared that "something will be done".

As usual it was all talk:

The plot never developed further, however, because after a long summer holiday Straw and Hoon changed their minds. The justice secretary concluded that the risks outweighed the benefits and that there would be a bloodbath if Brown refused to go. Rawnsley reveals that Straw was also reluctant to lead a coup attempt if this might mean handing the crown to another cabinet minister.

Hoon's change of heart was believed by other plotters to have come about following an assurance from Brown that he would be appointed as Britain's next commissioner in Brussels – a promise never kept. Rawnsley reveals that Straw has since debated with himself over and over again whether he was right not to act and try to remove Brown in 2008.

Jack is not alone.  Some of us are still debating with ourselves whether Brown should have been removed.

Rawnsley says this:

To some of his enemies – and by enemies I mean people within his own party – the prime minister's conduct towards colleagues and staff has at times been so appalling that it raises a question mark about his fitness to hold his great office.

It clearly matters how a leader works – or cannot work – with his colleagues; whether he responds to crises and setbacks calmly or in a hysterical fashion; and how he treats his staff.


The Good Gordon and the Bad Brown co-exist in the clever, proud, sensitive, raging, tearful, tormented, complex man who has ruled Britain for nearly three years and now asks for his tenure to be extended for another five. Before they make their choice, the public deserves to be fully acquainted with both Browns.

It's uncanny.  Brown’s personality so much resembles that of Anthony Eden.

R A Butler, who was rather indiscreet on all matters, once described Eden as:

Half mad baronet, half beautiful woman.

Eden destroyed our damp islands status as a world power.  Brown has just left us with no money.

How ironic that Brown asked the electorate to “take a second look at us”.

We just have.

This morning Peter Mandelson has to go on Marr and put the toothpaste back in the tube, all over again.

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