Down On Brown

Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.Image via Wikipedia

Long before Gordon Brown finally became British prime minister after Tony Blair retired from office, I and many others had already drawn potential parallels between Brown and James Callaghan , a previous old Labour prime minister who took over from Harold Wilson when he retired suddenly in 1976.

I’d told myself that Gordon would probably have to deal with an advancing recession brought on not so much by bad decision made during his short time as PM (though these don’t help) but by an accumulation of policies going back perhaps further than the past 10 years and certainly affected by a more global knock on effect.

He must now curse his own indecision about going early to the country to obtain a mandate on his own terms.He delayed because he wanted to ‘set out his table”, to define what made him different to Tony Blair but instead events have overtaken him as the credit crunch, the slowdown in house prices, a commodity that Brits cling to in an almost OCD way (pressurised by the failure of pensions and a poorly controlled private rental market which sees Brits view property as their pension and a speculative asset above all else) and more seriously the increase in global food prices as these all begin to pinch the heels of the British consumer.

Of course governments aren’t solely responsible for the present conditions. To some extent we probably now have the knife edge economic and social conditions we helped create by our own individual actions and decisions.Many of us have just made bad decisions prompted by ready availability of bad options.

I heard comedian Paul Merton say something on Have I got News For You when he seemed to take a quick break from ad libbing humourous quips by summing up Gordon Brown’s predicament:

“It’s the fundamental tragedy of a man who’s wanted a job for so many years and has got it and found out he can’t do it”.

That may be a little harsh as Gordon seems to partly be a victim of circumstances in much the same way as James Callaghan was at the helm when a decade of decay and industrial unrest came to a head and maybe he may experience greater party dissent and open disloyalty in a similar manner to that experienced by Conservative PM John Major.Gordon is there just as a whole raft of previous Government policies and other global events conspire to perhaps see history repeat itself.

Disclaimer: The 80’s politicised me whereas the past 11 years have managed to almost apoliticise me in terms of seeing central governments as any kind of viable political or social solution so I’m not advocating any available political party alternative (in British politics now there’s very little difference between the parties now anyway and in my eyes hence no great choice). I’m ‘merely’ a very interested observer.

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2 thoughts on “Down On Brown

  1. I am not much of a political animal these days either – the parties all seem much the same to me as well.

    With regard to Gordon Brown, I suppose the reason for so much damnation on economic matters is that he was of course The Chancellor for so many years before hand and really this should have been an area where even if there was little he could actually do now when confronted with a global slowdown, he has the advantage of a longterm detailed view on financial matters and it seems reasonable to expect it might be one area where he might be expected to talk sense and make wise or astute decisions which hasn’t really been the case.

    He suffers of course from a lack of charisma and this in itself makes him a convenient scapegoat for longterm policies that are only now turning out badly. I’m sure public dissatisfaction is not as high as is reported – most people may be mildly dissatisfied when asked but he is hardly the talk of the town in the same way that Thatcher was at the end of her “reign”.

    I am not sure anyone will ever cure the Brits of their obsession with house prices – I often wonder exactly why they are obsessed. It is not even as if they always wish to spend their saved equity when they retire, more that they wish to preserve it for future generations. Personally I would rather that prices fell significantly so that my sons were able to buy/rent a house/flat without having to bump me off first!

    Your choice of heading made me feel a little ill!

  2. Sorry about the post title.I’m sure yesterday’s climbdown on the 10p tax rate debacle won’t be the last. Housing wise I’d like to see greater controls on buy to let speculation and and a much greater control of the rental market and more houses built (they want to build near us but the Nimby’s are very vocally opposed-gotta build ’em somewhere) but doubt that British culture will accept the demotion of their love of property for a while to come.

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