Quote [94] – Brown As PM Relationship At No.10


Every organisation has toxic individuals and practices: the job of an effective leader is either to contain or banish them.

Brown was caught in a terrible dilemma.  He could understand why many of those close to him rebelled at Whelan and McBride et al and their antics.  But he admired McBride’s and Whelan’s loyalty, and believed their tactics were necessary to protect him against what he considered were equally unscrupulous opponents. ‘Gordon saw conspiracies everywhere and was convinced that he needed a heavy hitter who could plant stories in the press for him,’ says an official; those he feared most were ‘almost always fellow members of the Cabinet’ recalls another.

The threats were real in a premiership where the Prime Minister was under almost constant challenge.

Government – PM Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
On McBrides Departure:

In a single day, the boil was lanced.  The class bully had gone,’ says one insider.  But McBride can be blamed too much.  As with Balls, Whelan and the rest, his behaviour reflected and modelled that of his master.  They were all talented individuals who were ‘spoilt’ by the pursuit and retention of power.

Government – PM Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
Re. issue of expenses:

On 9 May, a Telegraph leader absolved Brown of personal wrong-doing: ‘There has never been any suggestion of any impropriety on the part of the Prime Minister or his brother.’  But the harm was done by then, and the paper knew it.  Brown’s reacting so personally, while understandable, clouded his judgment at a critical time.  He became intensely self-centred, impervious to outsiders.  He showed none of the sang froid he displayed during the financial crisis.  To be effective in crisis, leaders need to be calm and objective to take the right decisions.  In this instance, he was neither of these.

Government – PM Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
The absence of a formal Deputy Prime Minister frustrated Brown’s civil servants, who had to work hard to ensure that Brown never missed Cabinet to avoid tension over who should chair the meeting in his place.  It also meant it was not clear who should take charge when Brown was away from Downing Street over the summer holidays: hence the series of caretakers in the summer of 2009. Government – Executive structure Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
One adviser described it as ‘respectable but not revolutionary’.  The report nevertheless secured substantial media coverage, a rare feat for the government’s domestic policy, and earned plaudits for Brown’s open-mindedness in setting Milburn on the task.  Overall, June turned out, even after the dreadful start, to be a good month, and advisers felt lifted.  One contemporary diary from Number 10 captures the feeling about the new agenda:’ ‘With the launch of BBF [Building Britain’s Future], it feels more sustainable and policy-rich.  It feels like we’re going into the summer fighting.’ Government – PM – Direction – Policy Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
The ramshackle decision-making on the plane on the NATO summit had caused ripples across Whitehall.  From that point on, Brown resolved emphatically that troop levels and other core military matters would be discussed properly in the NSID committee.  But, as with many of Brown’s best intentions, little changed. Government – PM – Decision making Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
To the end, Brown did not understand that it was not his job to wait for his cabinet ministers to come to him, but rather for him to empower and embolden the, as opposed to leaving them in limbo of uncertainty and doubt Government – PM Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
At Brown’s urging, Swedish President Fredrick Reinfeldt, who was in the chair, went around the table and asked each head of government how much they were prepared to commit towards the $10bn per annum climate fund.  After they had all put in their offers, Brown disconcerted the meeting by saying that the total was insufficient to pay Europe’s fair share of the global total. ‘We need to do more than this’, he told them bluntly.  Berlusconi complained that his finance minister Giulio Tremonti would not let him give any more. ‘Do you want me to ring him?’ asked Brown, who knew Tremonti well from their days as fellow finance ministers.  Berlusconi shrugged.  A few minutes later, Brown came back from the phone call to tell Berlusconi that his finance minister had agreed with him a higher Italian contribution.  When the Council reconvened, Reinfeldt announced that the total EU commitment was not considerably larger. Government – PM – Personal relationships – drive/clarity


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