Brown bows out-what is his legacy?

Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has announced today he is stepping down at the next election. He was the leader that steered us through the financial crisis, borrowed and spent money like there was no tomorrow. Yet to most people he was completely unsuited for the job of Prime Minister. Indeed, when articles like this from the Independent “Six things Gordon Brown did that weren’t a complete disaster” are on the front pages you have to wonder how his time in office will be regarded.

Bringing his time back to Northern Ireland, Brown did help deliver the Hillsborough agreement on policing and justice.

So what is his legacy? Was he  completed disaster or the man who saved the UK from financial ruin?

Answers on a postcard please…..

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • chrisjones2


  • Joe_Hoggs

    He should have bowed out of mainstream politics after the last election when Labour failed to not only gain a majority but were knocked into second place seat wise by the Conservatives.

    His work rate can’t be faulted, however the quality of his work can be. He failed dramatically during the financial crisis and made some very poor decisions along the way including the sale of the gold reserves for a fraction of their value.

    He clawed back a shred of credibility during the “Better Together” campaign and the way he conducted himself during it, however it was too little too late.

  • Niall Chapman

    I agree with Joe, ‘Browns Bottom’ is the overiding issue in his legacy and shouldn’t be forgotten:
    ” It would now appear that we have now found the reason for this market manipulation of gold at the time.

    The 400 tons of gold that Gordon Brown dumped on the market between 1999 and 2001 (60% of the UK’s gold reserves) likely went DIRECTLY TO THE BULLION BANKS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MEETING THE BUNDESBANK’S 1000 TON GOLD REPATRIATION REQUEST!!
    If Germany was demanding it’s gold of roughly 1000 tons, which likely had already been rehypothicated, it would have caused an explosion in prices to accumulate that much gold to cover Germany’s demand.
    Mind you, this request for the repatriation of their gold probably came years before they received it. England was obligated to see to it’s return and coordinated with it’s Bullion Banks who were in trouble as they had already sold it into the market place and could not get it back.”

    It wasn’t stupidity on Browns part, it was the UK governments complete compliance with English and American Bullion banks to stop them from going bust, which has completely jeopardised the UK’s financial position in the event of another market crash which is likely to be a bonds market crash, and without Gold in that circumstance the UK is fooked

  • Brian Walker

    Almost a great man I think, as does Mike White in the Guardian

    A would- be man of destiny who ended in failure when destiny
    found him wanting, a major figure whose huge strengths were too often hobbled by his equally enormous weaknesses. It was never clear what wanted to do with the top job he so desperately wanted almost as of right. Still, right at the end, the sheer power of the great clunking fist which forced the party leaders into line for the Vow shows the difference in stature between him and them.

    His biggest personal failing was an obsessive secretiveness that
    soured into suspicion, malevolence and finally isolation. It meant many of the best Treasury aides whom he needed as a one eyed man to function well , deserted him when he moved into 10 Downing St. He had quite unnecessarily antagonised the Blarities even though they made no serious attempt to stop him becoming leader until he’d got there, by which time it was too late. Despite everything he was the inevitable man even though half of Labour had cause to loathe him.

    As PM he couldn’t cope with the flood of daily decisions compared to the longer time scales of the Treasury. That deeply frustrated him because as natural journalist – politcian he was a connoisseur of spin and strategy .

    Another failing was Gordon Is Always Right carried to a point beyond satire over refusing to admit he ducked an early election. A deeply moral man ended up behaving badly of whom as Blair is supposed to have said, often displayed ” “zero” emotional intelligence.

    His achievements? Tax credits which however complicated improved
    the lot of the poor and mitigated inequality.

    Keeping the UK out of the euro.

    Going all out –maybe too far – to increase spending on health and education when the going was good. How much worse off they’d be
    today if he hadn’t.

    Yes. “ saving the world ” at the height of the financial crisis when Europe and America followed his lead in taking over the banks as the US
    administration was changing over with the usual paralysed slowness.

    See Bill Keegan

    There are alternative views of course but the weight of opinion
    is still with Brown.

    One big mistake in his area of expertise was striking the wrong balance of risk in PFIs and PPPs.

  • Zeno3

    Didn’t he abolish boom and bust?

  • Niall Chapman
  • kensei

    Every time I hear about Brown and gold I reach for my gun. Gold is a fetish and a basket of assets is much more stable. He didn’t sell at the peak but it was far from a disaster.

    His record is mixed. Child poverty went down a hell of a lot under Labour and he tried to shift the tax system to make more transfers downward but he ended up with a lot of complexity to make it more politically palatable. Labour effectively won 2001 and 2005 on the strength of the economy under his management but he was also the architect of some disasters – 10p tax rate and constant fighting – and while wasn’t responsible for the crisis did a lot to leave the UK open to it. He did well and led when it did hit. Pushed money into the NHS but loaded it with PFI. He financed the peace here but also the Iraq war for the UK.
    And on. In common with all of New Labour, squandered the chance to be more radical.

    He clearly wasn’t comfortable in public view but it’s good that people like that can make it to the higher echelons and not just extroverts. I think history may be kinder to him than Blair.

  • Gerry Leddy

    the man who made the 2008 meltdown in the UK possible
    by his light touch regulation announces his retirement

    I wonder will the corporate Financial industrial complex

    be as rewarding now to the monkey,

    as it has been to[ny] the organ grinder?