Brown on Corbyn

Obviously (see the poppy) not an up to date video – but I am awestruck by the incisiveness, intelligence and coherence. How very last decade… and how it is now missed.

In the circumstances, Gordon Brown’s opinion is worthy of some considerable note, I suggest. Brown seems to be seriously heading towards the money out of thin air principle. He almost seems to suggest Corbyn has more courage than he did….


  1. Richard Bond -

    Thanks for sharing Peter, I had not seen that before.

    What a difference not being in government makes, he can afford an honest appraisal of himself! What a difference in presentation, the genuine and charming smile and humour at how JC voted against him was nothing like the rictus forced on him by the NuLabour spinners.

    But also how different in outlook now. When he took office as PM he appeared to have no clear idea what to do. Boom and bust was over, no real need to be radical …. So very unlike JC who from the start has enthused his supporters with a clear vision for change and had the courage to force that vision through the party machine against the odds.

    I’ve always had a lot of time for Brown and I did a quick search to try to find the original full interview. What stopped me in my tracks was a Guardian article from 2015 about Brown urging Labour members not to support Corbyn for leader! Incisive, intelligent and coherent speakers can still lack judgement.

  2. Andrew Dickie -

    Richard, I couldn’t agree with you more on what you say about Brown, both his strengths and weaknesses (though I think you’re a little harsh about his 2015 advice not to vote for Corbyn: after all, two of his Cabinet members, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper were also in the running, and it would have taken extraordinary prescience to predict Corbyn’s future performance. He won because people were sick of the “same old, same old”, sensed Corbyn’s humanity and radicalism and were willing to take a chance, and certainly now feel vindicated in their choice)

    However, two comments, supportive of your take on Brown.

    The first concerns the warmth and relaxation in the clip Peter has posted – can’t comment, as it won’t play on my mobile, so will have to watch on my laptop. Well, that was exactly the experience of my former Spiritual Director, Fr. Patrick Phelan, who attended a talk given by Gordon Brown at the Edinburgh Festival, in 2014, I think. Fr. Patrick was astonished at Brown’s ease, humour, relaxed mode of delivery and intelligence. Quite won over.

    Alas, I fear the taunting and negative Downing Street press management actually unbalanced Brown, so that getting to No. 10 seemed sufficient “all passion spent”, made him forget the reasons he’d wanted to become PM, and – worse – to duck the 2007 Election he should have gone for, and would almost certainly have won, and might have won again in 2012, saving the UK from a decade of politically motivated, and unnecessary austerity.

    Remember, Brown warned Cameron in the 2010 Election Debates that even the emergency £6bn cut would knock the UK economy, then recovering, off course, and was right – it did.

    If only he could have avoided, in your memorable phrase “the rictus forced on him by the NuLabour spinners”.

    But he was too stressed by his desire to be PM to allow the real GB to come to the fore, which brings me to the second point in support – his intelligence and command of the issues, in addition to his new-found ease and warmth, all demonstrated in this magisterial performance at Bretto Woods, in 2011.

    It’s 54 minutes long, but if you have time to watch it, do, and weep that he was no longer in charge of the UK, and its economy in 2011 – the children had broken out of the nursery, and taken over the house!

    1. Richard Bond -

      Andrew – thanks for the link, I watched the first few minutes and it reminded me a lot of his bravura performance in lead up to the Scottish Independence Referendum. I will watch the whole speech (and probably weep) at leisure.

      I could catalogue what I consider to be a series of failures of judgement on Gordon Brown’s part, but the only one I cannot forgive was that during his time as chancellor and PM inequality of income and wealth increased dramatically. He did well in helping to lift a lot of people out of absolute poverty but no Labour government should increase the wealth of the already wealthy.

      I do wonder what he might have been had John Smith lived.

      1. Peter May -

        Delighted to see both have sympathy with Brown – there is no suggestion he was anywhere near perfect – but brother, was he a lot nearer than any coalition government or onwards…

  3. Ivan Horrocks -

    Peter, thanks for posting yet another really interesting clip which I’d not picked up elsewhere.

    Andrew, Richard. Agree with you on the post NuLabour Brown, and indeed on some of the in government Brown (i.e. as Chancellor). But I’ve often wondered to what extent the situation with him and Blair shaped and impacted his demenour and actions once he became PM. Of course, their dislike of each other and impact on policy was well known throughout the period of the New Labour governments. But I’d never appreciated the extent and depth of the direness of the working relationship, and of each man’s resentment/distaste of the other, until I read Tom Bower’s book, ‘Broken Vows. Tony Blair. The Tragedy of Power.’

    I know some people take issue with the accuracy of Bower’s books, but to be honest, if even half of what Bower reports is true about the Blair/Brown relationship – and of course, of members of their respective teams – and the impact on so many aspects of what New Labour tried to do while in government, then I find it very difficult to imagine how Brown as PM could move on and become the person he now is after working under that particular shadow for so long. And when I say that I speak as someone who had high hopes for Brown as PM – most of which were dashed.

    Anyway, I’ll close by saying that if you haven’t already read Tom Bower’s book on Blair it’s worth a read. I have to say, however, that nothing in it will ever be as bad as what we have to come if Johnson wins a majority on Thursday. Sadly, I’ve little doubt that he will now that’s it’s clear that neither Swinson or Corbyn will come out and unambiguosly call on their respective supporters to vote tactically on polling day.

  4. Andrew Dickie -

    Ivan, good to hear from you again – was surprised not to hear you comment on issues of education raised here on Progessive Pulse, unless I missed them.

    Anyway, further to your comments on the hate/hate relationship between Blair and Brown, I’ve long been of the opinion that Brown let Blair sucker him into letting Blair go first, to the detriment of the Labour Party and the country.

    Brown would have beaten Major in 1997, been his own man, and would surely have been far better than he turned out to be in 2007.

    And the UK would have been spared the effects of Blair’s messianic complex. I cannot see Gordon Brown would have supported the ill-judged invasion of Iraq, for example.

    But we are where we are, alas I.e up s**t creek, not only without a paddle, but with a corrupt bully in charge!

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