I read a book on Gordon Brown today. There is a cautious feeling of optimism in our house at his becoming PM, and I have long had a feeling that in the cup of cappuccino which is the Labour Party, Tony Blair was the froth on the top and Gordon Brown the grounds underneath.
Deciding against the Tom Bower book (I would prefer to read something which gives hope for the future), I bought Gordon Brown, Past, Present and Future by Francis Beckett, a (more or less) supporter, which I read this afternoon.
It was an enjoyable read. He gives a certain amount of background, for example he discusses Browns alleged ‘weakness’ in not pursuing top jobs at certain times, explaining that those jobs were either ones he didn’t actually want anyway, or he that felt it was the wrong time to pursue them. I must say I felt a lot more sympathy for Gordon Brown, spending that crucial day after John Smith died in writing obituaries, than for Tony Blair, eagerly setting his machine in motion to bid for the leadership.
I am not sufficiently knowledgeable on all the events to say whether Beckett’s book gives an accurate representation or not of Brown, his actions and his policies. However I would like to think that the picture he gives of a man deeply concerned about poverty and education, with an abiding sense of moral justice, and a disinclination to follow any course of action he has not thoroughly researched is a correct one. It is comforting to think that the man in charge understands the economy and (hopefully) will be reasonably competent at the job.
I am also guardedly encouraged by the fact that he has started his premiership by focusing on something really needed in this country – more affordable housing. It would be really nice if he could also think a bit about transport (better trains please), and perhaps leave the transport minister there long enough to sort things out properly. And please, please can he not squander time and money on unnecessary wars, and interference in the running of foreign countries. We have quite enough problems in our own country to sort out, and that is after all what he was elected for (genuine humanitarian concerns excepted).
The only thing that worries me a bit is that he really, really wanted the job. Didn’t someone (was it Plato?) say that the best rulers are those who do not want to rule, the worst those who eagerly seek the position? But I wish him well.