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Gordon Brown, Happy Anniversary

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With the possibility of a by election to replace “Wee Wendy” Alexander in the Scottish Parliament, and another in East Glasgow where Westminster MP David Marshall is standing down because of ill health –

“things can only get better!”

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Written by curly

June 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

Posted in Gordon Brown

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Brown one year on

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Gordon Brown

Letter from a “friend”.

Gordon Brown will have been Prime Minister for a full year next Friday, and under his leadership the Labour Party has seen it’s position in the polls plummet from an eleven point lead to a twenty two point deficit, with all indicators, economic and political, pointing towards a crushing general election defeat. I wonder how “the Broons” will be celebrating the anniversary?

One of the Prime Minister’s firmest supporters Jonathan Freedland was writing in The Guardian’s Comment is Free yesterday summarising the past twelve months, and coming to the conclusion that “we got Gordon wrong, he is simply not up to the job”. He laments Gordon Brown’s weaknesses and exposes the truth within the higher echelons of the party that the man is simply a very poor communicator with little empathy for the electorate.

A settled view, among the electorate as well as the commentariat has formed, one that will take an earthquake to shake. I can see its distortions and exaggerations and yet, no matter how much I would like to, I cannot depart from the substance of it. I find myself in sympathy with those who admired Brown through his 10 long years as chancellor and who keenly awaited his premiership, and yet now conclude that they got Brown wrong – that, on the current evidence, he is simply not up to the job.

At its most basic, he seems to lack the skills of a man who would lead a 21st-century nation. “He came in like an Oxford don, with a study full of files and papers on the floor,” laments one minister, who now regrets listening to the Brownites who persuaded him to back their man a year ago. “He’s a dinosaur,” the minister adds, lamenting Brown’s failure to delegate, his dithering, his days that start – or end – at 4am.

The most obvious skill gap is in communication – He does not seem able to deliver three or four plain, human sentences that anyone could understand. The result is an empathy gap: he does not seem able to show any to the electorate and so they don’t feel any for him.

Still, it wasn’t the eventual failure to call an election that did the damage. It was Brown’s presentation of it, the rictus smile as he insisted that the tightening opinion polls had nothing to do with his decision. Reporters told him to come off it, snorting their derision. It was like watching a teacher lose the discipline of his class – once gone, it can never be recovered. Brown could have survived ducking the election; his mistake was to be dishonest about it.

Even the prime minister’s closest allies say what has happened these past 12 months is “tragic”. It would take a Shakespeare to do justice to a story that combines the jealousy of Othello, the ambition of Macbeth and the indecision of Hamlet. Labour’s task is not simply to watch this saga play out to its bitter end, but to act – and to help this desperately flawed hero change his destiny.

Yet it is so difficult to see his flawed character being changed, he is now driven and buffeted by circumstances mainly of his own making during the time spent at the Treasury. He is plainly a man with insecurities who finds it difficult to delegate, and in the digital age of the internet his ability to appear warm, human, empathetic, and communicative is a major drawback in any attempt to get his message across.

With the Governor of the Bank of England telling his Chancellor that we face the most difficult economic challenges for the past two decades, and key economic indicators nearly all showing a poor long term record over the period of Labour’s stewardship, Brown will be aware that his anniversary party will not be the happiest of events.

Any further “letters of support” from his friends will surely cement his position as one of the most lamentable British Prime Ministers of the post war period!

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Written by curly

June 19, 2008 at 10:39 am