Sunday, June 25, 2006


You see him here. You see him there. You see him dashing everywhere. Strutting his stuff in Brussels, Belfast and Cologne, sounding off about Britain’s need for a new nuclear deterrent at the Mansion House, glad-handing Al Gore in Downing Street when Prime Minister Tony Blair was in Bristol — all in the last few days.
Gordon Brown, the UK’s saturnine Chancellor who hopes to become Prime Minister once Blair has gone to get rich from his memoirs and join his wife on the lucrative global lecture circuit, is acting as if he already is PM.
But he will never get the job. Though he lives in the flat over No 10 Downing Street, that’s as near as Brown will ever get to running the office downstairs.
Not just because the vexed West Lothian question of Scottish MPs voting on legislation for England and Wales which does not apply to them is once again being asked as Brown frantically tries to woo English voters by supporting their World Cup team and babbling about ‘Britishness.’
By the time Blair goes, Brown’s reputation as a prudent manager of the economy will be in ruins. Increased taxes, a lower standard of living and likely inflation will have left it in tatters.
The International Monetary Fund, where he’s been chairman of the main policy committee, is falling out of love with their darling Gordon and last year warned that his view of the British economy was far too rose tinted and he would need to slash public spending or put up taxes by £12 billion.

But fiscal problems are not the only reason he won’t become Prime Minister.
Brown is the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister.
In secular 21st century Britain the self-denying spirit of Calvinism still hangs heavily over Scotland. Despite the swaggering puppet Parliament in Edinburgh, the culture of self doubt, of maybe not being good enough, remains pervasive.
When someone (in Scotland it’s usually a man) rises from nowhere and nothing to the heady heights of success, the favourite local putdown is: ‘A kent his faither.’ (I knew his father). It is usually said in a sneering tone with a glint of scorn in the eyes. It means: he’s got above himself.
Gordon Brown was born and grew up in this chippy climate. Its inhibiting psychological legacy must still lurk somewhere deep in his unconscious. It could be at the root of why he has never grabbed his chances to become either Leader of the Labour Party or Prime Minister.
The official reason he did contest the Labour leadership in 1994 was that it was for the sake of a Party whose schisms and divisions had at that time kept it out of power for fifteen years.
But was Brown in denial? Did this son of the manse reared in a cold physical and psychological climate maybe feel he wasn’t good enough?
He could have ousted Blair if he had swung the votes of his supporters against the PM in a vital parliamentary debate on Iraq. But he stayed loyal and demurred.
The most amazing thing about Gordon Brown is that for all the years he’s spent in the murky world of big time politics, he never seems to have grasped the basic rule that power is never given. It has to be taken, seized, prized. Unless the incumbent dies, you’re not likely to get it hanging around waiting for it to be handed over to you — or acting as if it is already yours.
Brown has just never had the stomach for the necessary fight. He has also not that long learned that you cannot always trust what people tell you, no matter how well you think you know them.
Right now he is so desperate that he invited a Sunday newspaper round to watch the World Cup with him and got sent up something rotten, which is exaclty what he deserved for such a silly stunt.
Watch the smille he forces to lighten up his glowering looks — his face is a study in thwarted, wounded ambition.
The truth is it is just too late for hesitant Brown.
That’s not fair, I can hear the cry. Decent, honest, loyal Gordon, who’s always put Party first and sacrificed his own opportunities for its sake, deserves his chance. No, not another one. A man who hasn’t got the gumption to take his first and second chances doesn’t deserve a third. What it shows is that he is not a leader.
Leadership is about seizing and exploiting chances. You also need to fight, as Blair has done to keep his job when he’s been in the eye of a force ten political storm.
By preferring the sulks to a bare knuckle battle with Blair, Brown (yes, that’s decent, honest, loyal Gordon) has shown he’s not a leader and lacks what it takes to be a Prime Minister. Copyright © 2006 Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved