Brown Out


Gordon Brown has now been prime minister of Great Britain for two years, but it looks as if he will lose his job at the coming general election, which has to happen by next summer; current polls are pointing to a Conservative Party victory. In 2007 Brown finally realized his ambition when Tony Blair, who had led the Labour Party to three successive victories, stepped down from office, resigned his seat in Parliament, and left British politics with extraordinary rapidity.

The relationship between those two outstanding figures in their party has been an extended psychodrama likely to attract biographers and historians. Once, as young members of Parliament, they had been friends. In 1994 John Smith, the leader of the party, suddenly died. Blair and Brown were both contenders and met to discuss plans in a London restaurant, a meeting that has become the stuff of political legend, and would form the basis of an entertaining though speculative TV play. The outcome was apparently that Blair, as the younger and more attractive candidate, and a family man more likely to appeal to the voters, would have the first shot, but that he would stand down after one parliament and make way for Brown. (At that time Brown was a bachelor and was rumored to be gay, but a few years later he married and started a family of his own.)

In 1997 the Labour Party swept to power and Blair became prime minister. His aim was to detach the Labour party from its socialist baggage while keeping...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Bernard Bergonzi is the author of A Study in Greene, among many other books of literary criticism.