Thursday, September 27, 2007
Whatever happened to that Stalinist Gordon Brown?
I'm wondering, as I'm sure others are too, why the negative images of Brown which abounded in his run-up to entering No.10, have so completely disappeared. Lord Turnbull famously compared him to Stalin, novelist, Robert Harris dubbed him 'Labour's Richard Nixon' and Tom Bower's engrossing biography(Gordon Brown:Prime Minister, 2007) painted a picture of a control freak, power mad, paranoid, bent on feuds and revenge(yes, that's right, a bit like Stalin).
Bower's book shows, fairly conclusively I thought, that Brown had no scruples about, for example:
i) refusing to release Treasury information to Number 10 as a demonstration of his power.
ii)destabilizing meetings with Blair and Cabinets by ostentatiously reading his own documents and ignoring the topic under discussion.
iii)issuing hostile briefings about Blair and anyone seen as a rival for the top job.
iv) holding Blair to ransom over issues like top-up fees.
v) attempting a 'coup' in autumn 2006.
vi) throwing screaming rages with Blair and other ministers if he could not get his own way or felt he had been slighted.
But now he is in Number 10 himself, we see this strong, masterful, low key but serious and committed version of the man, and all achieved without obvious lashings of spin, as was the case with dear old(now forgotten) Tony. Why should this be? I don't know but maybe it's to do with:
1. achieving his goal at long last and achieving some mind of inner peace?
2. the calming effect of a stable married life with children and a loving wife?
3. spin so effective and subtle that we don't even notice it?
Whatever the reasons, we have to be grateful for it. Maybe the faults will emerge with time but at least he is unlikely to go quite so far down the road Nixon or even Stalin pursued once well into his seat of power. Maybe all politicians are embryonic Stalins and, through wishful thinking and naivety we just don't see it? But having met a fair number of them, I can't believe that. It's a mystery I'm sure we'll all seek to unravel as Gordon's progress continues.
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