Thursday, April 09, 2009
Gordon Struggles with the End Game
In June 1993 Norman Lamont garnished his resignation speech with a cruel quip that Major's government gave the 'impression of being in office but not in power'. It was true than and is true now of Gordon Brown's administration. A good analysis by Bagehot in The Economist, takes this analysis deeper, coming to the same mordant conclusion. In the wake of the G20, Gordon Brown, ears ringing from Obama's extravagant praise, seemed in one way to be at the height of his power: he had convened a summit which addressed the world's most desperate concerns and seemed to be in receipt of the world's gratitude.
He exercises powers, the envy of leftwing politicians everywhere: nationalising banks, controlling finance, straddling both the executive and the legislature and directing local government as well as the public services. But, whilst occupying this pinnacle, he also barely runs his country. The reason? Virtually everyone knows he's not going to be there for long. Once this realisation dawns power drains away from British prime ministers with astonishing rapidity. The civil service is impatiently waiting for new instructions.
If not as eagerly awaited as Tony Blair's speeches in the run up to 1997, Cameron's are still seen as the shape of things to come. Ministers have given up in many cases and the bigger beasts are already positioning for the time whhen Gordon is removed around this time next year. Bagehot discerns also that the press has the 'smell' of government blood in its nostrils as it sadistically stalks Jacqui Smith over her expenses excesses.
Even the Governor of the Bank of England's Governor and his once inviolate fiefdom of th Treasury now dare to challenge his desire to extend our borrowing yet further. Like a doomed boxer, way behind on points, it is sad to observe him struggling through the last few rounds. Labour's only hope now, I fear, is to minimize the scale of defeat to ensure the trail back into power is not too long- it still might not be a landslide. But I am struck by the question which always arises during the dog days of am doomed government: was it really worth all that manoeuvring, back stabbing and raging, Gordon, to end up like this?
I posted something on my blog actually, related to this a few months back and I would be interested in your opinion as a political author if you have the time. It is here.
It is basically about the prime ministerial prerogative to dissolve parliament and how I think that sometimes, the interests of the PM will not be aligned with the interests of his party. I think it was true in 1978/79, 1996/97 and also now.
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