Saturday, May 15, 2010

How will history judge Gordon Brown?

This was one of the questions on Radio Four's Any Questions last night and one that's impossible to speculate on sensibly. I only do so now with that caveat.

I suspect that history will mainly forget Gordon. Just as John Major has slipped into the underworld of dead memories people will start to say things like "First you had Thatcher, then Blair and now David Cameron."

For Mr Brown this is a double edged sword. Few people consciously associate him with New Labour's wars despite the fact that he was second in command throughout every invasion, bombing and child murder that the government oversaw. For the British electorate it doesn't really matter how high the stack of foreign dead babies are as long as you don't call them bigots.

They'll also forget the fact that he was widely seen as one of the most competent Chancellors of the Exchequer we've ever had - until the world wide financial collapse that is, when he suddenly got the blame for the lot.

I know I'm in a minority here but I rather warmed to him as a person, if not politically, partly because, as Roy Hatersley said last night, he was "contemptuous of the triviality of politics." This was his strength and one of his weaknesses.

It seems to me that the Brown years were hard ones for Labour Party members as the media accentuated every cock up and the grovelling apologies became ever more obsequious. It looks as if they're going to enjoy opposition a whole lot more than they ever enjoyed their final years in power. If that makes them a more effective opposition then that's all to the good.

Of course the current jockeying for position among his potential replacements looks a little bit like a race between mediocrities at the moment but even so I would not be surprised if in five years time Brown is all but forgotten.

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