Unhappy first anniversary, Gordon

There he is, slaving away over a hot computer at dead of night, full of ideas, brimming over with drive and commitment, one of the cleverest and best informed politicians ever to have held the top office – and yet so few appreciate him. As Gordon Brown commemorates – or shrinks from – his first anniversary as Prime Minister, he is confronted with an avalanche of comment which is more varied than you might think. I’ve assembled a small digest of what I think is the most original. Why has Brown’s reputation suffered such a disastrous slump? David Runciman in the FT has the interesting take, that the impotence of national governments in the face of global problems has been exposed as never before.

It’s illogical to slate Brown for incompetence, and at the same time for impotence: it has to be one or the other. In a rare pro-Brown piece, Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph, who’s not a political specialist, argues that on the contrary, Green policies make yet become Brown’s salvation.

The New Statesman has been Brown’s house journal for years. Unsurprisingly, its Martin Bright still sees a glimmer of hope

Disillusion is rampant at the previously pro-Brown but still pro-Labour Independent, where Steve Richards finds Brown on the “wrong side” of most big questions.

Brown is clinging on to The Guardian’s support but only just. Where did it all start to go wrong? The answer is in this riveting account of the election that never was.

Finally a lofty view from Times columnist and Tory grandee William Rees Mogg. Brown was not as good a chancellor, and is not so bad a PM, as conventional wisdom has it.

There isn’t agreement even over how Brown will spend his anniversary. One says it will be business as usual ( hunched over that computer, he means) ;another says he’ll be celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 90th all over again. The fascinating thing about this and wider opinions about Brown, is that both may be right. Time will tell which will win out in the end

  • mnob

    “It’s illogical to slate Brown for incompetence, and at the same time for impotence: it has to be one or the other. ”

    No it doesn’t – not when the incompetence was over the last 10 years resulting in impotence now.

    The incompetence was believing the end of boom and bust would be effected by creating a mechanistic process that didnt even take into account the biggest inflationary cause – house prices. The inflation rate accepted by the government didnt include these. That meant that house prices were able to soar without check.

    At the same time budget surpluses were spent on beurocratic follies – centralising command and control of the UK to the government using game theory and removing citizens of the ability to be professional and take responsibility. The money was spent to achieve targets, not improve services.

    So now we are in the position of an unexpected ‘bust’ – created yes by global economics but made worse by the bubble Gordon created and the fact that the coffers are bare – and worse still the government still needs to keep spending just to stand still.

  • Rory

    It’s illogical to slate Brown for incompetence, and at the same time for impotence…

    That’s exactly what I have long argued, Brian, whenever Herself accuses me of the same two sins – but does she listen?