Gordon Brown

Tom Bower

Gordon Brown

Cena: 18,80 

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Book description

          One thing is for sure, Gordon Brown won’t be sending copies of this book round as Christmas presents. Tom Bower is not celebrated for looking on the kindly side of his subjects; he gives the benefit of the doubt as sparingly as Silas Marner dishing out fivers at Christmas. I would hate to be given the Bower treatment. You’d keep saying: "No, that was meant to be a joke!" Or: "I only did that because he asked me to! I’m not really a monster!"

          Bower starts as he means to go on. Few people seem to have had a kind word for our chancellor. Even his brother is called in aid: John Brown told friends at university that Gordon was "boring, but very clever". Later he quotes a popular gag about the chancellor: "A man who can brighten a room just by leaving it". From a host of revealing anecdotes, we learn that, in 2000, Brown, Tony Blair and Robin Cook were so wrapped up in hatred of each other that they chartered three separate planes to fly themselves to a European summit in Lisbon. The great panjandrum of prudence had helped cost the taxpayer £30,000.

          Brown’s self-preening budgets are treated with almost throwaway contempt. Yes, inflation is low, but it is low around the world. Unemployment is also low, but that’s because about one million healthy people are receiving invalidity benefits. Economic growth is substantially less than it was under John Major, our productivity remains hopeless, the balance of payments is worse than ever before, no one is saving, and Brown’s raids on pensions have been so predatory that we are all going to spend our old age catching squirrels for the pot. It is a picture that the Tories would be delighted to paint, if they had the words or, come to that, the platform.

          In fact this is as much a polemic as it is a biography. Of 492 pages, only the first 42 are spent on Brown’s life before he entered parliament. By page 141 he is walking into the Granita restaurant for that fraught meal with Tony Blair in May 1994. Here I feel considerable sympathy for Brown. He had always been the senior partner in the relationship, formed when the two men shared an office in 1983 and realised that they had the same view about what Labour had to do to rescue itself. Brown was the brains, the tough professional politician, battle-hardened in the hell men call the Scottish Labour party. Blair was an eager Islington lawyer.

          To realise suddenly that he had been outmanoeuvred, that he wouldn’t be getting the ultimate prize, must have been as hurtful as it would for an eldest son to be told he wasn’t going to inherit the house and land because his little brother looked better on television. 


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