Left Watch

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A key to Gordon Brown

By Paul Goodman

  • Screen shot 2010-09-04 at 16.41.13 Brown looks set to stay in the Commons.  He'll apparently contribute to the debate on the AV referendum bill when the Commons resumes business on Monday.  Rather than holding back to await an uncontentious slot - an adjournment debate, say, on international development, during which he'd be heard with respect - he's plunging eagerly into a controversial measure.  Furthermore, as Jonathan noted earlier this week, he'll be voting against a proposal which he recently supported - thereby inviting interventions, hostility, perhaps ridicule, possibly barracking (though this is unlikely).  If he's willing to risk this once, he's presumably willing to do so again.  He shows no sign of wanting to stand down as an MP.  Indeed, there was even speculation that he intends to stand for the Shadow Cabinet with the express intention of becoming Shadow International Development Secretary.  Brown's presence on Labour's front bench would be a headache for Labour's new leader.  He shows every sign of wanting - like Margaret Thatcher, but in a different way - to "go on and on and on".
  • Tony Blair left the Commons for the last time when he resigned as Prime Minister.


  • Blair has written an informal memoir heavily critical of BrownHe claims that his former Chancellor tried to blackmail him over "cash for honours".  He blames Brown for losing the last election by leaving the true New Labour path; supports the Coalition on the VAT rise and the deficit; goes further to back the Conservatives on public sector reform, and describes Brown as "a strange guy" with "zero" emotional intelligence.
  • There is no sign of Brown writing a full memoir, let alone a gossipy account like Blair's.  Instead, he is working on a heavy tome about the banking crisis.


"There is no website for Tony Blair Associates, which offers ‘strategic advice’ for undisclosed fees. Richard Murphy, a tax specialist who has tried to get to the heart of it all, says the Blair companies are arranged in a way to minimise transparency. ‘The complex web of companies is not just designed to hide the money but also where it comes from,’ he says. ‘Blair doesn’t want anyone to know what he’s doing.’

Furthermore, Blair didn't go to the House of Lords, where his interests would have to be declared.

  • Brown seems determined not to make money.  His response to the memoirs was to issue a statement, the day after their release, setting out his "priorities for the future".  He announced three new appointments: as convenor of the Global Campaign for Education working with Queen Rania of Jordan, working on a new programme to bring the internet to Africa and joining the board of Tim Berners Lee's World Wide Web Foundation.The statement pointedly said: "Each of these positions are pro bono and Mr Brown will not accept any remuneration.


I could go on.  But I won't.  The point is made.

For the rest of his life, Brown will seek to define himself against the man who, in his view, stole Labour's leadership from him - as the serious, purposeful, heavyweight son of the manse who loves his Party; not a flyweight imposter who has, in all effect, left it behind.  He is, in his own way, as monomaniacal as Captain Ahab: "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it."