Saturday, April 26, 2008


What Has Gordon Brown Achieved in his Year in Power?

This portrait by Phil Hale of a Tony Blair's fag end days in power last June should be salutory for Gordon Brown; this is what ten years in power does to you. Simon Hoggart even suggests it's the equivalent of Dorian Grey's picture in the attic. Well, at least Blair had a reasonable hit list of achievements to his name, including Northern Ireland.

I've asked my students in Liverpool, for our last session next Tuesday to list Godron Brown's achievements during his first year in power. I'll be surprised if the list is a long one. Can anyone think of one or two to get my own list going? Setting the ball rolling on constitutional change? Some alleviation of poverty in the last budget? Reducing British troops in Iraq? These are small potato items.

To be honest I'm hard pressed to think of a single major achievement to stand in the Brown trophy cupboard. After a stint of reasonably successful crisis management last summer, it seems to have been downhill all the way- I won't bother with the familiar depressing list. It's just when things are getting bad though politically, as John Major discovered, that they insist on getting even worse. It's probably over-egging it to perceive shades of 1979 but the public service disputes seem to be building ominously. As well as the Grangemouth Refinery strike and those by teachers and civil servants, there are disputes pending in locaal goverenment, ther health service, police, prison service and FE colleges. I wonder if Mr Hale is washing his brushes to do Gordon while he's still resident in Number 10?

To be fair to Brown, he has been in power for less than year so far, and genuine achievements do not turn up with felicity week after week! I think the problem for Brown, though, is that the potential for achievement looks ever smaller, and there are few glimmers of a great work in progress. Matthew Paris in today's 'Times' is very negative, although I disagree with his conclusion that the Brown government will implode before 2010. Good luck on Tuesday - I hope you blog the results!
What had Blair achieved after one year Skip? And wasn't Brown actually responsible for the better side of the Blair story?

Brown handled the early accidents and events well and only really came unstuck with the stupid election misfiring last autumn.

Now he (and we) must rebuild and continue the interrupted good works of the past decade. Preferably go further.

PS If we're being fair wouldn't we credit Blair with the latest tax change? Or credit Brown with much of Blair's success?
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