Quote [99] – Gordon Brown – Knowing What You’re For

The phase of the government cycle, the lack of money the depletion of ministerial stock, and the seismic impact of the economy crisis in 2008 and the expenses crisis in 2009 all go some way to explaining why Brown’s domestic policy agenda was not fuller.  But Brown cannot be absolved of responsibility himself.

‘Everything comes back in this premiership to his lack of definition about what he wanted to achieve at Number 10,’ said a senior official in 2009.

When he became Prime Minister, he had worked out what he was against but not what he was for.

His failure to arrive with a clear programme for government badly weakened him from the outset and meant he had to invent one in office – a tough ask for any Prime Minister, but something Brown, as an instinctively cautious and indecisive politician, found difficult to pull off.

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon
“But it all came good on the 3rd of may in Brown’s speech to an assembly held by community organising alliance Citizens UK Methodist Central Hall, Westminster – an invitation he had accepted only days before.

McNeil helped write the speech and travelled with him to the event, but the words he spoke were his own. ‘Everything Gordon had ever believed in came together in this one setting.’ Says McNeil who noticed the Prime Minister coming ‘utterly alive’ the moment he arrived. ‘I’m home now, I know these people,’ he said.  ‘He could smell it, he could tell it was family, being with hundreds of people in that room who voluntarily gave up their time for others,’ McNeill adds.”

“’That speech will live forever,’ a colleague wrote to McNeil. ‘I always knew you and Gordon would do the great summons to justice.’  To Purnell, one of Brown’s most trenchant critics, it was ‘an incredible speech … a rare glimpse of the old Gordon.  He rediscovered the moral authority he had lost.’

‘It was like Gordon was braking free of some self-imposed chains,’ recalls Forsyth.”

“the campaign had finally hit the right note.  Its impact was well caught by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian: ‘His language was scriptural, perfectly judged … what we saw on Monday was Brown unleashed.’  But as Freedland acknowledged, the door was closing.  It may be ‘the last hurruh of a candidate who knows he’s going down.  But it is also a tantalising glimpse of what might have been’.”

Brown at 10 – Anthony Seldon

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