My dear Q,
The plot to remove the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown from office is dead. And the media is being accused of practically over hyping the situation. One MP even complained about the BBC broadcasting live from Westminster and in front of 10 Downing Street since last Friday hoping for further instability in the government.
A die-hard Labour supporter backed the views of some Labour parliamentarians, saying that the media are “making ordinary situation look extra ordinary. This is irresponsible reporting”, the Labour supporter told journalists outside Westminster on Monday
“I appreciate having a free press, but the importance of responsible reporting from the media cannot be over emphasized either” the Labour supporter told journalists.
On Monday, I told you that by the middle of this week, we would know if Britain is going to have a new Prime Minister and whether we will be going to the polls this autumn. On both counts, the answer is a big NO!
But how come the Prime Minister survived to fight another day after such ferocious attacks from within the Labour camp and from outside?
Well Old Boy, there were no Casca to make the first move … one furious junior MP, with a majority fewer than 300 in the last election told his constituents that, “No one had the guts to knife the Prime Minister”. He said “it’s all talk, talk, and talk and no balls”.
The coup was badly planned and worst still, poorly executed over the weekend. And on Monday, the Parliamentarians of the Labour Party came out of a collective nervous breakdown precipitated by relentless onslaught by the media over expenses, to reluctantly back Gordon Brown as their leader and Prime Minister but called for drastic changes on how he governs the country.
I must say that even if Gordon Brown stays on till the next general election which he must call for before the ending of June 2010, history will not be kind to him, because the governing Labour party has suffered its worst results in a national election since the Liberals were wiped out in 1918 and a far worse collapse than the Conservative ever endured, even at their lowest ebb.
This devastating result has been compounded with news that the fascist group, the British National Party (BNP), had won its first two seats in the European Parliament through the back-door last week Thursday.
The arrival of the fascist party on the grand political stage is not an endorsement of their policy by millions of British people, indeed, they have made it to the European Parliament because the share of the Labour party’s vote collapsed and went to other parties, thereby helping the BNP under a proportional system to be elected.
When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister some two years ago, no-one doubted his formidable intellect and iron determination to govern differently from Tony Blair. Indeed, this serious-minded Scot was the prefect tonic for a British public jaded after a decade of celebrity politics under Tony Blair.
Within a week, Brown’s popularity ratings had gone up to over 70 percent and, he confided to his close friends that he was thinking of calling a snap election that would have buried the Conservatives for years in the opposition.
Election fever gripped Britain and there was excitement in the air. But in the end, Gordon Brown’s famous cautious side won out, and he decided not to risk everything after waiting for 13 years for the Premiership. That was the first sign of his indecisiveness and poor judgement when it comes to political leadership.
In those early days however, he was the darling of the British press. The rightwing Spectator newspaper, one of Tony Blair’s hardest critics saw Gordon Brown as an up-right and decent God fearing politician. “The sense of liberation (in Brown) … is palpable,” wrote its editor, Mathew d’Ancona, who had accompanied Brown on a visit to the United States. “Every morning he clearly awakes and thinks… “I am prime minister!”
D’Ancona concluded; “This PM’s greatest triumph to date has been to persuade the world that he is not an exhausted traveller, limping and grey after 10 years as Tony Blair’s Minister of Finance, but a man at the very start of a journey.”
Throughout the summer and early autumn of 2007, when it came to writing or reporting about Gordon Brown and his government, the common currency was that “the right man is now occupying 10 Downing Street”. “Brown could be the first Labour leader since Clement Attlee to recast British society,” wrote Neal Lawson of the leftwing pressure group Compass in one of the leading British newspapers. “Brown’s performances at prime minister’s questions “have been masterly”, wrote Alice Thomson in the Daily Telegraph. “Brown is wrong footing Cameron,” wrote Fraser Nelson in the same paper. “Brown could be a great PM,” wrote Peter Osborne in the Daily Mail.
But one newspaper, the Economist, took a slightly different stance when Gordon Brown moved into 10 Downing Street in June 2007. And just few days ago, the Economist reminded its readers of that stance in its leader’s page. “When Gordon Brown moved into 10 Downing Street, this newspaper remarked that he had the making of both a disappointing Prime Minister and a fine one. Sadly, he has proved to be the first”, the paper observed.
This observation gives weight to the new currency; that Gordon Brown’s Premiership has been a failure so far and that the Labour party is heading for annihilation whenever the election is called and, if Gordon Brown remains as Prime Minister.
In public bars, on radio and television talk shows, the mention of the name Gordon Brown produces instant cheap laugh.
One well-connected Labour figure and a friend of the Prime Minster told journalists that “Gordon Brown has been a “catastrophic leader”. And his critics today compare him as a leader to John Major, Anthony Eden, and Richard Nixon: political bywords for incompetence, poor judgement and bitter failure.
“He is teetering on the brink of being the worst Prime Minister of my life time”, says the veteran political writer and novelist Robert Harris.
So what went wrong? There are two schools of thought. One is that its purely bad luck; the arrival of the credit crunch train just as he was settling down into his new job as Prime Minister, brought hard economic pains and his goodwill was eroded by rising unemployment and home repossession, closing down of businesses and a worried public that places the blame on the former Finance Minister’s door, when he became Prime Minister.
But, Mr Gordon Brown deserves credit for convening the G20 meeting in London, and for Britain pioneering bank rescues and useful budgetary stimulus
For the past few weeks, the British people have been distracted by the chicanery, some real, much imagined, of MPs of all parties in maximising their parliamentary allowances. The national furore over the often tawdry misuse of public funds has obscured the underlying forces shaping the future of British politics. And the Prime Minister has become the chief victim of the national furore.
The great paradox of this Prime Minister’s career is that of a politician who spent a lifetime in the ruthless pursuit of the highest office only to arrive without any strategy or purpose for his premiership.
Another school of thought points directly to the character of the Prime Minister.
One senior Labour figure and a close friend of Tony Blair, Charlie Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, writing in the Times newspaper recently said that “Gordon Brown faces a wholly new political situation from the one he inherited in 2007. It requires humility and the ability to change fundamentally in the eyes of a public fed up with and distrusting of the political class. It requires leadership different in type and culture from that which has gone before: more openness; a greater willingness to rely on wider range of people; more explanation-as well as being focused on and frank about the economy”.
Well Old Boy, I know of another country that desperately needs this same kind of leadership, even more than Britain … but let’s leave sleeping dogs as they are … we don’t want to be bitten.
Lord Falconer, said that what Britain needs is a leader who can be the “driver and agent of a very big change”, in the country. “This needs highly developed leadership skills. Gordon has not displayed those skills”, the former Lord Chancellor concluded in his article published in the Times newspaper.
Those who know Gordon Brown say that he sometimes makes changes, but that he never really alters. His strengths and flaws are too firmly set. Indeed, this view was confirmed recently when the Prime Minister himself reminded an audience of his “inner core”, of those Scottish “values” and the ever present “moral compass”.
The First Secretary of State (Deputy Prime Minister), Lord Mandelson, the key figure shoring up Gordon Brown’s leadership, but once a bitter enemy, only 18 months ago described Gordon Brown as “insecure, self-conscious … angry”, according to a leaked email.
It’s almost a physical discomfort to watch him,” (on television) says David Runciman, a politics lecturer at Cambridge. The Prime Minister “is an almost pathological version of a closed- off politician. That kind of personality is clearly very good at politicking behind the scenes. Chancellors (Minister of Finance to you &I) are meant to be closed off. They keep secrets from us, go into purdah-it’s the least democratic office of state. But the relentless exposure of being Prime Minister makes that sort of closed-off politician vulnerable.
During a recent series of TV interviews, the strain was etched deep into his face. Once the camera stopped rolling the Prime Minister’s temper erupted against journalists whom he believed had questioned his integrity. He ripped off his microphone twice, threw it down, and walked out, saying: “I need a break.” It was Lord Mandelson, the First Secretary of State , who over the years has been the subject of many of Mr Brown’s tantrums, who tried to placate him, saying, “Gordon, calm down, calm down. It’s a weekend. You can have a rest”.
Friends and family who know the Prime Minister very well says off camera, in private or semi-private situations, he can be a good company-even now. They say, he can laugh about politics and its cruelties and ironies. He is not grand. He is a serious, introspective man who finds the showbiz side of politics trying. He talks with an appealing Scottish directness and informality.
But in his public pronouncements he seems to suppress this side of himself.
In a London Review of Books and articles published in 2006, David Runciman foresaw the dangers of taking this approach in 10 Downing Street. Modern politics, he suggested, favoured leaders such as Blair and Cameron who appeared comfortable in (their) own skin”: Gordon Brown, with his old-fashioned notion of keeping his public and private selves separate, would come across as “someone who is always holding something back”,
“a man who was happy to conceal the true state of his feeling”. In the era of confessional web chat and tearful celebrity interviews, Runciman implied, Gordon Brown’s reined-in-public persona would not be acceptable to voters if he became Prime Minister.
Well, he became Prime Minister and today because of his flaws political observers here in Britain have written-off the Labour party predicting a wipe-out in next year’s general election.
What I can tell you from my small corner here in Chiswick, in West London, is that Labour politicians are stuck in limbo, like the uncommitted at the gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, pursued by wasps and eaten by maggots as punishment of thinking of their own self-interest. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” Read the words above the door that leads to political oblivion.
And like Tony Blair said during his final statement in Parliament on the 27th of June 2007, “well, that’s it, good bye”!
Winston Ojukutu-Macaulay Jnr