Gordon Brown will hate being PM


Why it is generally held not to be a good idea to appoint someone with the social skills of a totally uncollegiate Stalinist whelk suffering from psychological flaws as Prime Minister


He's the mad Mrs Rochester. That's what the Blairites call Gordon Brown - Mrs R. They are convinced he is a lunatic, ranting and raving in the attic, desperate to burn down the New Labour estate, determined to wreak revenge for being locked up for so long. Yesterday, Andrew Turnbull seemed to prove them right. On the eve of the Budget, the former Cabinet Secretary accused the Chancellor of running riot.

But Mr Brown is no Mrs Rochester. Nor is he like Mr Rochester, although he does have the windswept hair and damaged eye. The Bronte character whom he most resembles is St John Rivers, the zealous clergyman who rescues Jane Eyre from the moor. Mr Brown is a passionate prophet who wants to save the world. He is on a mission to help the poor, educate the ignorant and reform the wicked. He is almost religious in his fervour, believing passionately that he is the only one who truly understands what Britain needs. In the same way that St John spent his life wanting to go to India as a missionary, Mr Brown, since his teens, has wanted to reach Number 10.

The tragedy for the Chancellor is that he will hate being PM. Like St John, who finally made it to India, only to die in the blistering heat at the hands of savages, Mr Brown will wilt at Number 10 in a job that is not at all suited to his talents.

Lord Turnbull has much to say about Brown's talents. He has often told journalists, off the record, that the Chancellor exhibits a "Stalinist ruthlessness". He says the Chancellor belittles his Cabinet colleagues, treating them with, "more or less complete contempt", and doesn't allow them any serious discussion about priorities. He also points out that Mr Brown has a "Macavity quality". He is rarely there when there is dirty work to be done.

Privately, many of his former colleagues both at Number 10 and at the Treasury agree with Lord Turnbull. They say the Chancellor is a control freak who finds it difficult to make decisions. "At the moment, he probably trusts about two and a half people in the Treasury," says one insider. "He never writes anything down; all the key decisions are kept in his head." Charles Clarke, the former Cabinet minister, told Rachel Sylvester and me in an interview that Mr Brown was "totally uncollegiate" and had "psychological" issues.

But almost all of these characteristics - the ruthlessness, the single-minded focus, the disappearing acts - have been an asset at the Treasury. It is the perfect home for the dour Scot. In 1997, he had to be brutal with the Cabinet if he were to have any chance of keeping to his spending pledges. With Mr Blair embroiled in foreign affairs, it was important to have a strong Chancellor dealing with domestic issues; his awkwardness was the perfect antidote to Mr Blair's charm.

The problem is they are not suitable qualities for a Prime Minister. As Chancellor, it was sensible to keep out of decisions about Iraq, to dodge the questions about the Dome, the petrol protests, David Kelly's death and the cash-for-honours allegations, but, as Prime Minister, Mr Brown can't hide. At PMQs, press briefings, in women's magazines and on walkabouts, he will be asked to take responsibility for every area of government. He will have to be flexible, adaptable and light-footed - he is none of these. He will have to address issues that he obviously finds boring - farming, defence and foreign affairs - and he will have to forfeit his beloved Budget speech.

Nor will he be able to micro-manage any more. He will be expected to make hundreds of decisions every day, something he finds very difficult. He already wakes at 5am, now he will be up at 4am, biting his nails while his children sleep.

Then there are all the state banquets and the foreign travel. Mr Brown enjoys meeting the Kaiser Chiefs occasionally, having a quick chat with J. K. Rowling and going for supper at Windsor Castle with the Queen. But as Prime Minister, he will be expected to meet heads of states every day - his diary will be packed with diplomatic niceties. As one senior mandarin says: "It's everything he detests - from sucking up to foreigners to taking the blame when things go wrong. He fidgets impatiently through international summits, I don't think he has the diplomatic skills to be leader." Another explains: "Gordon wants to win by hard argument. When you're Prime Minister, you need to use soft skills as well."

While at The Treasury, he could keep the Left and the unions under control with promises of future preferment. Now they will be out in force over Trident and pay increases, expecting their socialist leader to deliver. On the other side, he will have the Blairites intent on destabilising his regime. He will have no mandate from the voters to lend him authority, he has a limited Cabinet to draw on - they are either tainted by the last regime, too inexperienced or he has fallen out with them. He has lost the trust of the professions - the doctors and the teachers. The West Lothian Question will become more pressing when he is Prime Minister rather than Chancellor.

His best bet would be to call a snap election. It's what Tony Blair would do. But his cautiousness, which makes him a sure-footed Chancellor, will prevent him doing the right thing. So, instead, he is likely to sweat it out for another two years before he calls an election - and may yet lose it.

His friends say that he will change when he reaches Number 10, he will be a warm, approachable, affable Prime Minister and his popularity will grow once more. He has already begun to talk about composting with his son. But it will be harder for him to change his personality than his politics.

As he stands up today to give his last Budget speech, he should be mourning the imminent loss of his job. He could have been known as the greatest Labour Chancellor that Britain has had, a political genius who made New Labour happen. Instead, because of his obsession to reach the very top, he risks becoming the non-entity Prime Minister, squashed between Tony Blair and David Cameron, New Labour's John Major.

It would be a sad end for such an extraordinarily talented man.

Putting aside my deep loathing for Gordon Brown as true architect of the systemic underfunding of the Armed Forces at the most difficult time, think that sums it up quite well
Sven said:

Would a Tory rag EVER say anything nice about a Labour politician? Anytime before they retire that is

Take a canter through, amongst others in the Grauniad of late, Simon Hoggart. Broon is the Fig 11 the Tories have been waiting for: only thier inability to unite in a coherent way, behind real policies, will allow the Caliban of the Chancellery to bumble along.
Sven said:

Would a Tory rag EVER say anything nice about a Labour politician? Anytime before they retire that is

Well of course not but actually I think that article is quite fair: it says he is a very clever man and a determined man but has a number of behavioural issues that made him good for the Treasury role but wholly unsuitable to be Prime Minister.

There are a lot of people within Labour who agree with that even if they like his policies and/or want to have a job so keep their gobs shut.

Many know he is simply the wrong type of personality for such a high profile meeejia heavy job and runs a high risk of making a complete balls of it or cracking up. Either way likely to be an electoral liability perhaps becoming a latter day Michael Foot.

I clearly do not like Brown and his policies and nor does the Telegraph but that is not the point here. He cannot hack it.
Sven said:

Would a Tory rag EVER say anything nice about a Labour politician? Anytime before they retire that is

Sven, are you some sort of Labour/Marxist believer, were you on the pickets with the 'brothers' during the miners strike? Do you attend the annual festival of the Tolpuddle martyrs? Do you call your friends comrade?

Or are you just a new liabour mouth piece?
Sven would have imported cheap foreign scabs miners.. he is NEW labour after all.
Sven said:

Would a Tory rag EVER say anything nice about a Labour politician? Anytime before they retire that is

Sven, the Torygraph does not deny that Brown is a very good politician, that is not in doubt. What is obvious is that he is dour, humourless, obsessive, uncharismatic and has a limp handshake. By economic standards, he has been a good Chancellor but he does not have what it takes to be a good Prime Minister.
Sven said:

Would a Tory rag EVER say anything nice about a Labour politician? Anytime before they retire that is

Try the last line of the article

"It would be a sad end for such an extraordinarily talented man."

Not exactly uncomplimentary, methinks
By economic standards he's been good? I'd hate to see the useless borderline autistic make a mess of things.

The Brown economic miracle is a mirage created by spin doctors. Look at the unemployment figures, look at the pensions black hole, look at the cheap scab labour he's importing to fuel his "miracle".

Corruption that would make mugabe blush.

The only miracle is that people vote for this dangerous control freak.
The Britsh equivalent of replacing Mugabe with Amin...
This morning we hear that following Broon's eleventh budget, we enjoy the highest inflation for sixteen years? Hmmm...I think the Gordon Brown PR machine is a much unregarded dark horse.

I am really looking forward to the Labour leadership elections. I think stalinist whelk gordon may get a bit of a surprise...which due to his amazing carapace-like self-image will really be a surprise!
Brown will never be PM, and it's pretty certain that Tony has carefully disposed things to ensure that. If he had the slightest wish to give him even half a chance of succeeding him, he'd have taken certain steps; but he hasn't. The animus between the two has become so deep and bitter - and TB knows that GB (because of his age) will only get this one shot at it.

Today's Times (Times 2 section, in particular) is well worth a look.

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/ passim

Interesting to see how they've wheeled out a lot of psychologists, psychiatrists, management gurus, business & economics consultants etc. to diagnose his faults and shortcomings - presumably so that the civil service mandarins and politicians can say, "Don't just take our word for what the man's like. See what the experts say."

I wonder if the impact of the papers' comments will have any effect on Brown's demeanour in the House later today. Or perhaps his astonishing self-absorption helps to insulate him from criticism.

I don't know what odds the bookies are currently offering on GB becoming PM, but I got a fairly good deal against him a while back
TartanJock said:
What is it they say about Brown and Blair two cheeks sharing the same a**e.
. . . . . and with a deep and nasty cleft dividing them.
Gordon Brown will hate being PM?

Not as much as the country will hate HIM being PM.
Brown wont hate being PM, what he will hate is losing the next election, and getting the blame for it, party leader and PM for a couple of years, just long enough to really miss it all when it all goes up in smoke.

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