Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Brown Resembles Nixon but Without the Deviant Tendencies

Really interesting article by Jonathan Freedland today, in which he admits he has always seen a resemblance between Nixon and Brown, starting with his crumpled, jowly face and extending to his acute social awkwardness and jealousy of his glamorous charismatic predecessor. There is definitely something there, especially when one considers the cabal of rather ruthless henchmen-Gordon Liddy, Damian McBride?- both called on to their dirty work.

But Freedland applies a strict limit to the comparison. Brown is fundamentally decent, has committed no major crimes and is beginning to accumulate a record which is beginning to look not at all bad. This is where I suspect the comparison might become controversial, so visceral and widespread is the dislike Brown seems to engender. Freedland quotes the current edition of the Economist:

"Brown's bail-out was lauded and emulated around the world and probably averted a catastrophic financial meltdown"

The same journal is quoted suggesting Brown has to be given credit for:

"swerving Britain out of the path of "what had threatened to be a devastating recession". Yesterday's word from the British Chambers of Commerce, announcing that the economic worst "is over", vindicates that view".

Hmmm. The more recent judgement of the NIESR is nowhere near so sanguine and I suspect we have far to go before the woods are behind us. The rest of the 'record' cited by Jonathan is more what has had to do or hasn't done rather than what he has chosen to do. So he hasn't declared war on anyone yet and has reined in the banks through nationalisation(not that that has curbed top salaries or pensions). Not sure this amounts to a great deal: Douglas Home didn't do a great deal either but that has not prevented him propping up the league tables of British PMs. So far the most that can be allowed is that saving the UK banking system will gain Gordon his niche in history and place him higher in the tables than either Home or Nixon in his equivalent presidential tables. But those physical and personality similarities are really quite remarkably close.

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