Quote [89] – Brown Government: Managed Communication – Long Terms Strategy

Blair’s Downing Street operation, with Powell and Campbell, as well as Anji Hunter and Sally Morgan, had once been derided by Brown’s team at the Treasury, but now it began to be spoken about wistfully, almost with awe.  The absence of a political chief of staff in Brown’s number 10 was felt particularly keenly.

Tom Scholar, who had joined the team in July, was much more comfortable as a principle private secretary than as a political enforcer.  He had neither an interest in nor the mandate for the latter role, and had been handicapped both by not being part of the transition team and his absence during Brown’s first weeks.  ‘It would have been crazy for Cameron not to have had his chief of staff by his side from day one.’ Says one adviser.  Worse Scholar was never given the authority by Brown to get on with the job, so never became properly established.

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
In November 2007, Pearce, at this time Brown’s education adviser, had absorbed the lessons of a report about the world’s most successful school systems by Blair’s head of delivery, Michael Barber.  The single most important factor in explaining the quality of a school system, it concluded, was the standard of teachers.

Pearce had visited Finland, home to one of the world’s leading school systems, and seen the force of Barber’s conclusion on the ground, reporting back his findings in a memo to Brown.

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
Instead of grasping the problem when it first developed, Brown had allowed Number 10 to descend into an internal briefing war.  Instead of backing Carter or sacking him, he took the coward’s way out and simply began to ignore him. Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
Office Layouts:

The horseshoe had significant benefits but also disadvantages.  Having all Brown’s senior people in one room close to him aided communication and ensured a rapid response – a regular problem with Number 10 up to that point.  On a deeper level, he picked up their positive energy, and this helped them to avoid being dragged down by his periodic negativity and despondency.

On the downside, it further institutionalised the number 10 teams reactive mindset, and did not assist the development of the longer-term thinking that was desperately needed.

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon




Quote [88] – Introduction To The Government of Gordon Brown

Thatcher cast a long shadow over her three successors, establishing in the mind of the public, as well the leaders themselves, the notion that a premiership, to be successful, has to have an intellectually coherent and distinctive personal agenda. Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
It is a Prime Minister’s performance in the domestic arena, however, which often most shapes the public’s view. Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
Oddly for a man who had been a senior government minister for so long he displayed little sympathy for, or interest in, motivating his Cabinet colleagues.  He made it all too clear that he was not interested in the great majority of them, nor did he make them feel that he valued or liked them.  He failed to understand that in the Whitehall system, Cabinet ministers drive policy; he failed to trust them, and tried to be effectively a departmental Minister from Number 10. Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
Brown, however, was not a bully, though many felt bruised and intimidated by him and his team.  His anger expressed his deep frustration with his own shortcomings.

His lack of self-confidence meant he relied heavily on the advice of others who were mentally tougher and surer of their opinions, notably Ed Balls and Shriti Vadera

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
His attempt in June 2007 to form an inclusive government was built on sand: barley anyone trusted him. ‘He was corrupted by his ambition to be Prime Minister and it distorted everything that he did and said.’ Says Tessa Jowell.  ‘Whether somebody is with me or not was all he cared about, and the Prime Minister cannot be like that.’ A retired Treasury mandarin speaks for many bruised officials: ‘As someone who had wrecked somebody else’s premiership, he was always going to have problems with his own.  His core failure was his inability to be a team player, his inability to share and his need always to be right – the clever boy in the class.’ Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
“Effective leaders need to have a clear programme of action.  Brown only achieved this at an international level, and failed to explain to a domestic audience how his efforts on a global stage were addressing concerns at home.  His success as Prime Minister came when he was reacting to events, not when he outlined his own agenda for the future.”

“many of those who worked with Brown in Number 10 from June 2007 were astounded to find that ‘the cupboard was virtually bare.’  His determination to ascend to the Labour leadership unopposed in 2007 not only denied him a ‘mandate’, it also meant he had no requirement to set out his stall to his party or the wider electorate.  Petrified of losing the support of the Blairites on his right, and uncertain what his own centre-left domestic agenda would look like, he lurched from speech to speech, issue to issue and crisis to crisis.

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon


Quote [87] – Practical Continuity Of Government & Party Politics

For instance, despite the violent objections to the Lloyd George Insurance Act by the Conservative Party, it was ultimately accepted and even extended by them.  There are, of course, instances to the contrary, as when the Conservatives reversed the Trade Union Act  passed by the liberal government, and the Labour Party, in their turn, restored the situation – but this was a change in the law, not a change in the economic structure of the country.  I think there is danger here for the stability of the country, especially when the reversal is not based on the national needs but merely on the ideological prejudice of a party. As It Happened – C R Attlee

Quote [86] – An Active Proactive War Prevention Foreign Policy

Foreign Affairs are the province of the foreign secretary and it is, in my view, a mistake for a Prime Minister – save exceptional circumstances – to intervene personally. As It Happened – C R Attlee
‘If you have a good dog, don’t bark yourself’ is a good proverb, and in Mr.Bevin I had an exceptionally good dog.  On the other hand, I am quite opposed to leaving foreign affairs to be dealt with as something outside the ordinary business of Government, a mystery only to be touched by the initiates.


Bevin always stressed the point that prevention of war was not enough.  There must always be a positive policy of raising standards of living throughout the world so as to destroy the conditions in which Russian Communism thrives. As It Happened – C R Attlee


Quote [85] – Freedom, Steering Society Delivering Change


Nationalisation was not an end in itself but an essential element in achieving the ends which we sought.  Controls were desirable not for their own sake but because they were necessary in order to gain freedom from the economic power of the owners capital.

A juster distribution of wealth was not a policy designed to soak the rich or take revenge but because a society with gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity is fundamentally unhealthy.

s It Happened – C R Attlee


It had always been our practice, in accord with the natural genius of the British people, to work empirically.  We were not afraid of compromises and partial solutions.  We knew that mistakes would be made and that advance would be often by trial and error.  We realised that the application of socialist principles in a country such as Britain with a peculiar economic structure based on international trade required great flexibility. As It Happened – C R Attlee


The old pattern was worn out and it was for us to weave the new.  Thus, the kind of reproach levelled at us by Churchill, that, instead of uniting the country by a programme of social reform on the lines of the Beveridge Report, we were following a course dictated by social prejudice or theory, left us completely unmoved.  We had not been elected to try to patch up an old system but to make something new.  Our policy was not reformed capitalism but progress towards a democratic socialism.

Furthermore, our experience in the war had shown how much could be accomplished when public advantage was put before private vested interest.  If this was right in war-time it was also right in peace.  I therefore determined that we would go ahead as fast as possible with our programme.

As It Happened – C R Attlee


An order of priority was adopted.  It was obvious, for instance, that the coal industry was more urgently in need of reconstruction than Iron and steel.  National Insurance was in a more advanced stage of preparation than the National Health Service.  First things had to come first.  It was also the case that every minister had urgent immediate problems needing solution.  Care was taken that present needs were not subordinated to long-term policy, but equally, present needs must not prevent progress being made with major schemes. As It Happened – C R Attlee
It was difficult to argue that what had been done in war with such good results should not be continued in peace, especially in the view of the situation in which the country was placed.  On the other hand, unless there had been a government with a clear policy and a resolute will we might well have slipped back to the evil conditions of the past.  No doubt we made many mistakes, but there has been in many directions a remarkable advance. As It Happened – C R Attlee


Quote [84] – Attlee, Ministers & Structuring The Executive

I had always felt the need for making very full use of senior non-departmental Ministers for the supervision of particular groups of Ministers and to have men in Cabinet free from absorption in departmental detail and available for considering major policy. As It Happened – C R Attlee


Nowadays, it is inevitable – if Cabinets are to be kept to a reasonable size – that important Departments should not be included.  In theory, I think, right that Ministers in charge if purely administrative Departments, such as the Post Office, Supply and Works, should not be in the Cabinet; but as far as possible they should have the same status and pay as their cabinet colleagues.

Of course, such ministers are summoned to Cabinet for particular items of business, but there is the danger that a Minister in charge of a department may feel himself left out of discussions on policy and, indeed, feel neglected.  To a large extent this was met by the development of a system of Cabinet Committees.

As It Happened – C R Attlee


“Two of my former Parliamentary Private Secretaries were included in the Government.”  “I therefore had to find someone else for this post, which is one of great importance.  It is essential for a Prime Minister to keep in touch with all members of the Party and to have early knowledge of currents of opinion.  This a wise Parliamentary Private Secretary can do. As It Happened – C R Attlee

Quote [83] – False Freedom, For The Few At The Expense Of The Many

The Prime Minister made much play last night with the rights of the individual and the dangers of people being ordered about by officials.  I entirely agree that people should have the greatest freedom comparable with the freedom of others,  There was a time when employers were free to work little children for sixteen hours a day.  I remember when employers were free to employ sweated women workers on finishing trousers at a penny halfpenny a pair.  There was a time when people were free to neglect sanitation so that thousands died of preventable diseases.  For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by the same plea of freedom for the individual.  It was in fact freedom for the rich and slavery for the poor.  Make no mistake, it has only been through the power of the state, given to it by parliament, that the general public has been protected against the greed of ruthless profit-makers and property owners. As It Happened – C R Attlee

Quote [82] – Government and A Dynamic Small Executive


  Excessive resort to committees tends to slow down action by discussion of matters which should be decided by Ministers themselves.  In fact, it may tend to a reluctance by Ministers to take decisions in matters within their own field As It Happened – C R Attlee


  I had long been persuaded that a small Cabinet was essential in time of war.  We started with five.  The subsequent numbers varied but never rose above eight. As It Happened – C R Attlee

Quote [81] – Fighting Extremists: Retaining Principles & Believing In Values

On Nazism:

We are fighting the battle of civilisation against barbarism.  To do that successfully we must bring to our aid the spiritual forces in all countries.  We must see to it that in this contest we do not allow the evil things which we fight to master our own souls.

Our aims must be such as commend them to the conscience of mankind.  If we seek a peace wherein moral principles are to prevail, we must carry out those principles ourselves.  If we are conscious all the time that our practise is not in accordance with our precepts we shall be weakened.

As It Happened – C R Attlee


If we really believe in the supreme value of every human individual, and this is the core of our democratic faith, we must change a system of society which does not express this in its institutions.  We still live in a class society.  The recognition of equality opportunity for all has yet to be attained. As It Happened – C R Attlee


One of the most difficult problems in war is to maintain civil liberty while ensuring the safety of the country As It Happened – C R Attlee


  We have to plan the broad lines of our national life so that all may have the duty and the opportunity of rendering service to the nation, everyone in his or her sphere, and that all may help to create and share in an increasing material prosperity free from the fear of want.  We have to preserve and enhance the beauty of our country to make it a place where men and women may live finely and happily, free to worship God in their own way, free to speak their minds, free citizens of a great country. As It Happened – C R Attlee