UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Is there any way out for Gordon Brown?

June 3, 2009

The Guardian newspaper, normally a Labour supporter, has decided Gordon Brown must go.

“It’s time to cut him loose,” it declares in an editorial that goes on: “The public is calling furiously for a better system. People want an honest parliament. They want leaders who are prepared to act. They loathe the old system, and many of the people who are part of it.”

Brown, it says, has left it too late to change anything.

And yet it was only a few months ago that the same paper was carrying cartoons portraying this apparently now fatally wounded figure as Superman, as Britain took the lead in dealing with the world banking crisis. Few analysts dispute that he remains the master of his economic brief.

He may not have the political savvy of Tony Blair and his awkward mannerisms in front of TV (and YouTube) cameras do not serve him well but most observers agree he has always been a figure of moral integrity. Early on, he won plaudits for his opposition to the super-casinos plan, he was lukewarm at best about the 2005 extension of drinking laws and he is far from being one of the worst expenses offenders.

Are people being too hard on Brown, making him a scapegoat for the expenses crisis?

Can he, should he, stay on?

Comments

He must go – his authority is crumbling with more and more (cabinet) ministers resigning, pre-empting his reshuffle. He is no longer in control of the cabinet. As a politician and as a prime minister, he no longer has the confidence of his cabinet, the party or the country.

However, he has undeniable abilities in economic affairs, and genuine determination to reduce (child) poverty, both domestically and internationally. A post in an international organization, which requires some political acumen but more importantly a firm grasp of issues, would be ideal for Mr Brown.

Posted by MW | Report as abusive
 

Gordon Brown does not have a mandate as a PM and does not have any credability with many senior ministers jumping ship. the Government is becoming disfunctional and a General Election should be called immediately!!

Posted by Richard Cox | Report as abusive
 

The problem Brown has is that he just doesn’t know where his next problem will come from. The Telegraph are cruelly dripfeeding the expenses stories day by day. the reality is that “immediate” action isn’t required – Nick Clegg can posture about keeping MPs in over the summer recess but this is not a matter of national emergency, it’s a matter of slowburning logs that have finally been discovered.

However, in this era of soundbyte “leadership” politics, it is Clegg and David Cameron who have been ticking the right boxes as far as “decisive action” is concerned. Brown looks like a rabbit in headlights. His cabinet is crumbling around him (some might say that losing Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith is no great blow) and tomorrow’s election result can only be disastrous, meaning that the knife will be turned.

This is a time for Brown to play politics, and that can only mean turning to one man: Peter Mandelson. Brown needs to put all his eggs in one basket and do what Mandelson says. Love him or loathe him, Mendelson is the best player of the politics game in the country and possibly the only one who can save the PM now.

Would going now achieve anything? Of course not, he would hand a Labour Party in tatters to anyone foolish enough to succeed him. Gordon Brown on top form, is a man to be reckoned with – as the article states, he’s stil seen as an economic wizard despite the way things have gone. But where is the nasty side? Behind the scenes, there are always whispers about Brown’s dark side. This needs to come into the open.

Lastly, only by making some truly radical policy announcements can he attempt to stem the inevitable. At the moment he is King Canute; had that illustrious monarch thrown caution to the wind and built flood barriers, dams, or even moved his beach towel elsewhere, his reputation might not be so notorious. Labour need som big headlines. They would do well to reach out the the Liberal Democrats, for whom things have been going swimmingly in recent weeks. There is a strong wave of public approval towards electoral reform; recent articles by David Cameron betray his fear on the subject. Brown could increase Alan Johnson’s star, bring the Lib Dems on board, tap into public opinion, and create some positive headlines whilst putting pressure on the Tories, with some bold steps towards electoral reform. This may be his only chance.

Posted by Eoghan O'Neill | Report as abusive
 

It is not Gordon Brown but the system that is in a mess. Sadly there is no one to replace him. There is no one out there in the political arena that inspires confidence. The senior ministers jumping ship do so with their tails between their legs for they are not without blame or guilt.

Posted by Peter Schwarz | Report as abusive
 

Gordon Brown is PM til May next year unless he is ousted by his party or he resigns or calls an earlier election – that is how the constitution works. The only people who have lost credibility here are the media with all of the main newspapers now having fallen to a level not much better than the Sunday Sport (probably the only exception is the FT – no comment – long may it continue). My advice is to switch off your TV and cancel your papers and get a life.

Posted by Paul Davies | Report as abusive
 

For the sake of the parliamentary system and the country, Gordon Brown should hold an autumn election. Many people are very angry and frustrated with this government, and hanging on for another year will not make voters forget its performance. The expenses fiasco has obviously given this desire for change extra impetus, but this is still a deeply unpopular government. I don’t think bringing in a certain ‘Peter’ is going to help matters either. Probably the opposite!

Posted by Matthew Wilde | Report as abusive
 

Everything Gordon Brown touches goes brown. He is not a natural leader and should never have been PM.
He has proved his economic incompetance from the start and enough damage has been done that the country no longer wants or trusts him. A General Election will only end his misery.

Posted by Tim Worlock | Report as abusive
 

Brown has a flaw which is much more important than his virtues. His inability to admit mistakes is but one manifestation of the huge underlying emotional insecurity which renders him unfit for great office in a time of crisis.

He himself mistakes the resulting rigidity of personality for ‘principle’ but his repeated defending of the indefensible has caught him out. The public by now has got over thinking the banks were solely to blame for the economic crisis and has turned on the British political class, aided and abetted by The Daily Telegraph with its relentless revelation of the clay feet of our governors.

Economic angst underlies the current public unrest and it would admittedly take a political genius to both assuage public anger and take the right decisions for our economy. Brown is incapable of doing either. He is going to bring the country to the brink of bankrupcy because he will not constrain his client state. He cannot head off the scalp-hunting public because his solution is typical of him: ‘since I was always in the right we really need more of the same’.

Everyone but him and his cronies recognises that a general election would clear the air and give a proper mandate for some tough but needed decisions. A political genius might have called an election; he would thereby have gained kudos for courage and honesty even if his party lost. As it is there is a strong possibility that by soldiering on, Brown will take his whole party into oblivion. As a believer in Whig and Tory politics, that is what I devoutly wish for.

Posted by John Lamble | Report as abusive
 

@Paul Davies – Thank you for your sanity.

Posted by Edward Mantle | Report as abusive
 

Sorry. Gordon Brown the master of the economic brief? By what measure? By being responsible for racking up more debt than all previous governments combined, with absolutely sod-all to show for it? I can’t think of any other measures where he has excelled, frankly.

Posted by John Brooke | Report as abusive
 

Gordon Brown had it all going for him in the late 90’s and early 2000, but he kept on borrowing, why?

The vultures are circling, “Time to go” if he has any honour.

I believe history will state that he may be the worst Chancellor Britain ever had, just look at the deficit we have today, and the pain we will have in the many years to come to repay it.

Now, as PM, the cabinet is disarray he has lost all credibility, it is only for the people in the Labour Party to be honest with themselves and have the grace and gut’s to get rid of him, before they fall out of office for the next 10 years, and possibly beyond.

 

“Is there any way out for Gordon Brown?”

I hope not. And I hope the Queen will be giving a public service commendation to the Daily Telegraph for exposing the rotten core of Parliament.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

He will be out of office this time next week.He cannot survive this, it is impossible.

 

It’s defies belief that Brown ignores his failure to notice the impending London Finance Fiasco and has just now noticed that Parliament needs reform. He hadn’t noticed that earlier, either.
He is not a scapegoat. He has been the problem since his idiotic remark 7 years ago that budgets should be “balanced across the economic cycle” – code for “we’re doing OK, no need to save just yet.” (In case anyone reads this, that is unbelievably stupid because, if you spend when money is there, how do you balance the debt in times of dearth?) And, BTW, he’s nationalised RBS etc. But he hasn’t put anyone in there to oversee reform. He’s the Great Non Reformer.

But who did suspect problems? Not Cameron’s guys either.

WE should be OK for some years if there’s no Parliament.

MC

Posted by Malc Cochran | Report as abusive
 

Gordon Brown was the worst chancellor we have had, and now the worst prime minister. His arrogance astounds me–he should resign and go immediately–let the country decide

Posted by rob penrose | Report as abusive
 

The irony is that Gordon Brown may be unpopular because by seeking to hold the reins too tightly he has failed to grease the wheels. When he is this unpopular he must have something going for him.

Posted by Huw | Report as abusive
 

We live in an incredible country where the one fault we cannot forgive is the lack of media presence which has probably doomed Gordon Brown. Should we remove the man who led the G20 into recapitalising our financial institutions in such a way that the taxpayer stands a chance of getting their money back? Whoever we vote for tomorrow it should’t be the media-groomed Cameron who had his snout buried in the expenses trough as deeply as many of those he seeks to criticise – but ‘within the rules’. Its a shame that we probably won’t also see the removal of the articulate pretender who would have allowed us to drift into a 10-year Depression.

Posted by Steve Kempley | Report as abusive
 

Brown’s belly up and the rats are jumping ship.

12 years of calculated destruction at an end, bar the shouting. Then the financial, social and industrial recovery can begin.

Long live democracy.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive
 

It is about time Gordon Brown faced facts. I actually feel sorry for him in some ways because he probably has self belief in his actions.

The labour party won in 97 by advocating political change and an end to “sleeze” Dare I mention John Prescot,Gordon Blunket etc who subsequently epitomized all that they had previously “abhored”

Politics in this country has become too self engratiating. The labour party needs to look at itself and back to their orchastated downfall of the Conservative Party in 97

As they say “as you sow so shall you reap”

Hazel Blears just wants to be back amongst her consituants – rubbish, she is just trying to secure her seat on the gravy train

Posted by Liz McLoughlin | Report as abusive
 

It is time the public got their say on the performance of their elected representatives in a General Election. That’s his ‘way out’.

Posted by Lorne | Report as abusive
 

I hope this is the end of them. I’m just saddened that it’s only a matter of sordid thieving that’s brought them down. No mention of the fact that Labour has done more damage to the country than Hitler ever achieved and that can never be properly repaired.

All of that was happily ignored so long as the easy money was flowing. Now that the tank’s been drained and the voters have seen that politicians were filling their pockets as well, they’ve turned on them.

It’s a sad reflection on the values of the British electorate.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

All parties have been caught out in the recent expenses scandal and if we are asking Mr Brown to stand down as leader of the Labour party, we should also be asking for Mr Cameron to stand down as Leader of the Conservatives and so on.

I am extremely annoyed with the state of the country at the moment. Even though I am a teacher aged 28 I am unable to get onto the property ladder in my local area due to the banking crisis halting mortgages and the ridiculous property prices.

However, I do not think we should be calling for Mr Brown’s resignation. The Labour party has messed up but it has also brought in some very positive changes to our country.

The MP’s who have quit have done so to save face because they knew they would have been out in the reshuffle. We should not be taking their resignations as a sign of Mr Brown’s incompetence, surely it is a sign of their own guilt and arrogance. Most of them have been involved in the expenses scandal and in the case of Harriet Harmon, she seems to have played a hand in most of the issues faced by the Labour in the past few months.

It is my opinion that at the moment we should back off Mr Brown, the country is in enough turmoil, lets wait until the general election and see how the country votes then. In this country we want quick fixes but that is not the reality of the situation.

Posted by Kathryne | Report as abusive
 

Brown should go because he is weak, visionless, and bankrupt of ideas. He is also unelected and unelectable, and heads an administration which has effectively sold the next generation into state slavery to pay the bills. This in addition to their terrifying contribution to “unaccountability of size” in all walks of UK everyday life.

He could not wait to elbow Blair aside for the Prime Ministership, but in spite of his mixed press in all things, it remains my own belief that he was an uninspired and ineffectual Chancellor, lauded as prudent for doing nothing, but at least not spending the rich heritage left to him by the hapless Tories. This was his undoing, for he believed his own advertising and in his abilities to do the top job, at which he has in my own opinion been a dismal and consistent failure.

Few anticipated the severity or speed of the recent economic reversals, but when faced with that situation he presided over the ridiculous and completely wasted billions spent in trying to rescue banking institutions, when it would have been cheaper and the accounting rather more certain to have used the money to start up new banks, or nationalise those we had until such time as the dust had truly settled. Now, he has given ours and our childrens and their childrens money away, and there is STILL no liquidity or available credit

Let him go, by all means, but not before he calls for a snap election.

Posted by David | Report as abusive
 

Personally, i feel that Brown should go. This country needs a LEADER, not someone previous led and now being pushed around by his own party. We didn’t elect him and i feel that he is putting off calling an election in order to hang on to the job as long as possible knowing that the public would not put him back into power. He is thinking of himself rather than the country.
Opinion of him is at an all time low, even if we are being a bit hard on him, i say he should walk if only for the morale of the people.

Posted by Oli | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •