Questions of character and judgement

Put on your tin hats. You can expect there to be a lot of flak flying over the question of character. The anti bullying charity will be put under media pressure to produce evidence or back down. Supporters of Gordon Brown will claim he is much misunderstood. There will be lots of heat but probably not much extra light as the various sides slug it out in the studios.

To me the more important question than the question of character is the question of judgement. One person’s sterling virtue seen in a leader can be another person’s weakness or undesirable trait. A character people love one day – like the widespread appreciation of Mr Blair in 1997 – can become a very different set of feelings for many ten years later. The change of mood is often affecrted by judgements or decisions leading figures make. Mr Blair’s Iraqi war changed the way people saw him. Mr Woods, the golfer, is seen differently today than a year ago because people have learnt something more about how he lived his life.

In the case of a Prime Minister the thing that matters most to most of us is what judgements he comes to, what decisions he takes that shape our country’s destiny. The public can live with a PM who turns most normal Parliamentary questions into an invitation to try to put down political opponents, if all the main calls he is making are correct. If he gets it wrong it grates more that he does not try to answer. The public can live with a man who either keeps himself to himself, or is very open about his background and family life – if he is getting the decisions right it doesn’t matter much which of the two approaches he adopts.Inconsistency on these issues can annoy if the country is not performing well.

So the questions to ask about our current PM remain the same today as before the current story about relations in Number 10. They include

1. Why did he tax pension funds, and why are so few private sector funds now open for new members?

2. Why did he sell gold at the bottom of the market?

3. Why did he get so little improved service for all the billions he gave to public services in the last ten years?

4. Why did he allow such a huge build up of public debt before the Crunch?

5. Why did he approve the Basel bank regulations and the decisions of his new Regulator, which encouraged banks to overextend their balance sheets?

6. Why has he presided over a higher rate of inflation than target on average? Why did he change the inflation target to CPI from the commonly used RPI?

7. Why did he put so much money at risk in state supported banks, when there were cheaper options available to get us through the crisis?

8. Why has he allowed large banking bonuses to be paid by state subsidised banks?

9. Why has the balance of payments been so weak on his watch?

10. Why has manufacturing output fallen under Labour? Why has the UK economy grown so little since 1997?

11. Why did the UK economy stay in recession for longer than other major economies , and why is it so far making such a weak recovery, if all the actions the PM took were right?

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54 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    For me, a great weakness for a man, is a pathological inability to admit fault. It is made worse by a series of denials of the obvious reality. I can forgive honest errors, they only become mistakes if you refuse to correct or acknowledge them.

    Thus, it was idiotic to claim in parliament that selling gold at the bottom was a good investment because the Euro has gone up. Why not simply say "I am sorry, mea culpa" This is the mark of a man and a leader. This is not a mark our current PM is burdened with.

  2. eddyh
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The answer to all the above questions is, "Because Gordon Brown could not run a p**s up in a brewery".

  3. Norman
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I think everyone knows the answers to the above questions. The main problem I see with the Prime Minister is that he is simply incapable of accepting that he could ever have been wrong about anything and anyone who suggests that everything is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds under his leadership has to be wrong.

    The only time I have heard anything like an emission of error was when he said that at some point in the future he will apologise to children sent to Australia 40 years ago. He didn't actually apologise, just said he might do so in the future. That sums the character of the man up for me.

  4. Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Good questions you can rely on the BBC not to ask.

  5. Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The same answer applies to all 11 questions.

    He is arrogant, incompetent and unfit for public office of any kind.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Because he is not a suitable person to be a Prime Minister.
    He is a Micromanager, rather than a stratagist who looks at the bigger picture, and any of his ideas are clouded by his own particular Political Dogma.

  7. Cedric Talbot
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Because, dear boy, he is a Socialist.
    A tax eater. A natural financial parasite.

    These people do not know, or care, how wealth is created. They have no understanding of how difficult it is to create a product or service that people wish to buy, or how hard it is to find and keep customers and ensure that they pay you. They have no feel for controlling costs or managing financial assets because they have never run a business and been accountable to shareholders, or even come close.

    Perhaps you can explain why we allow people like Brown having no relevant experience and no demonstrable qualifications to take charge of our national budget?

  8. gac
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It all stinks!

    Whether Mr Brown is actually a bully or just a dictatorial crap boss is almost beside the point! What we have here is the Labour black arts machine spinning into action to malign the person who had the temerity to say in public that the 'noble' Lord Mandelson was being economic with the truth – again!

    The fact that the BBC politics and news departments seem to be recipients of the Labour LTT propaganda messages only increases the bad smell.

  9. Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    On your second question, "why did he sell gold at the bottom", may I ask a more pertinent question:

    Why did Geoffrey Howe and his successors NOT sell gold in 1979-80, when their determination to beat inflation would have made holding the gold both a poor strategy and a poor signal?

    You cannot hindsight trade Brown's decision, without doing the same for these earlier mistakes. Which were way more costly. Is holding 2-3% of GDP in inert metal a clever idea?

    If you're curious, I have tried to trace this decision here:
    http://freethinkingeconomist.com/2010/02/21/brown

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      There is a lot to be said for an inert metal, actually. It doesn't depreciate. In times of inflation it keeps its value. Once upon a time it was the gold standard that made Sterling the world's major currency.
      And why sell it at all?
      Dare I suggest it was to pay for all the non jobs, quangocats, local government cabinets?

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Giles

      You may well be correct, you may be not, but the difference is Geoffry Howe is not standing for re-election.

      At the next election we are surely voting on the last Governments record, (and Gordon Brown has held a very, very influential role in the Government for the past 13 years), we are not voting on the performance of a Government that was in power 30 years ago.

      If we were to rake up all the sins of the past of all Governments with past members, then we get absolutely nowhere.

    • APL
      Posted February 23, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      Giles: “why did he sell gold at the bottom”

      Actually, a more pertinent question: Why did Brown trumpet to all and sundry that he would be selling gold at a particular point in time, thereby assuring that the price he could obtain would be depressed in anticipation of his cack handed sale.

      From your link: "Gold earns nothing".

      For a substantial holder of gold reserves, this is not true. Gold like any other security can be loaned out and return quite a nice little income if you are so inclined. It can be loaned out, often there is no need to move the gold either, if you are credit worthy, having gold to loan suggests you are, a certificate is sufficient.

      from your link: "storing [gold] costs money"

      An organization that owns the bank of England and real estate in the city of London is hardly likely to worry about the cost of storing any gold it might own, but even if it did, it could offset that cost against the income from loaning out its gold holding.

    • Andrew
      Posted February 23, 2010 at 2:38 am | Permalink

      Giles,

      I don't think you understand the role of gold plays the international financial system and foreign currency reserves of sovereign states.

      For example, at the time Brown sold the gold, Alan Greenspan said:

      "Gold still represents the ultimate form of payment in the world…Germany in 1944 could buy materials during the war only with gold. Fiat money paper [a technical term for legal tender] in extremis is accepted by nobody. Gold is always accepted."

      Today, when fiat currencies around the world, especially Sterling are under pressure, central banks have become net buyers of gold again to strengthen the reserves that back their currency. India, Russia and China have began to diversify some of their dollar investments into gold. Ultimately, fiat currencies are only backed by confidence in their governments…as Greenspan pointed out, gold is always accepted. Gold is the ultimate form of currency. As JP Morgan, the American banker and founded of the eponymous bank put it, "gold is money and nothing else".

      Not only did Gordon Brown sell at historical low (which could easily be ascertained by looking at any chart), the way he handled the sale was moronic and lacked any business sense, because he pre-announced the auctions, driving the price even further down.

      Brown's decision in today's prices has cost the country about $7 billion, and by removing gold from our foreign currency reserves, has made our currency weaker and more vulnerable.

      • James
        Posted February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        These replies are all silly.

        Andrew – the government pre-announced the sale because a) it reports its holdings every month, so could hardly pretend it wasn't selling, b) it pre-announces every sale – its government bonds, shares in companies it owns, housing etc. There's no reason pre-announcing should lower the price – things have a value, end of story.

        APL – The interest on gold is tiny, less than 0.1% at the moment.

        Mike – The money went, quite transparently, into US/Japanese/Euro government bonds.

        John needs to tell us whether he would, if made Chancellor or advising Osborne, a) buy more gold, b) sell more gold, c) do nothing. And if (c) will that be his policy for as long as he can foresee? Governments shouldn't be in the business of owning gold – Brown's privatisation was the correct move.

        Reply: Do nothing would be my advice.

        • APL
          Posted February 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          James: "APL – The interest on gold is tiny, less than 0.1% at the moment. "

          It is often suggested that gold is a libiality to store and guard. I was simply pointing out that the liability can be mitigated by loaning your gold holdings. Often, the gold doesn't even leave your vault.

  10. Javelin
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    (Substantial personal attacks on Mr Brown removed)
    I agree with you John that he should be judged by his decisions, but I think that his character does not make him fit to be PM because he is shaping Government and policy around his need to protect his feelings. He is centralising power, blaming others, making diplomatically aggressive put downs, (attacking-ed) enemies. This is all the sign of a weak man using power to flatter himself.

  11. Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    By the way, on question 6: having a free floating currency.

    4: he was a self-deceived numpty.

    10: the pound was strong. Also, I hope you are not a manufacturing-fetishist – all economic activity is worthwhile, isn't it? I always see this as an Old Labour mistake. .

  12. Albert M. Bankment
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    12. Why did they bail out depositors in the dodgy Icelandic banks, against Treasury and BoE advice and with no obligation to do so? Compare with the robust stance taken vis-a-vis depositors in BCCI. They took their chances with a racy bank, offering unsustainable rates, and suffered accordingly.

  13. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I think you need both judgement and character to lead a country, Brown has neither. Literally for years he has appeared short tempered, irritable, stressed, intolerant. The Blair/Brown feud became more obvious, cabinet colleagues left tightlipped, then a few ex colleagues starting breaking ranks openly e.g. Charles Clarke or covertly e.g. Mandelson. The man quite simply is a fraud and totally out of his depth and the country has suffered in my view permanently.
    Predictably Cameron is finessing himself into a hung Parliament offering the electorate his left of centre version of the Conservative Party rather than what the majority want. Nulabour have moved the electorate to the right, which he hasn't grasped. An outright attack on Brown combined with a commitment to outlaw PMs taking office without winning an election may help him secure a small majority.

  14. Brigham
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I am not suprised. (personal comments on PM removed-ed)I did hear one of his number 10 employees saying it was normal for a PM, because of the stress of the job, to push people hard. I must say that if a boss of mine pushed me, I would punch him on the nose. Perhaps that is what is needed to bring him to his senses.

  15. Donna W
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Good luck with getting answers to those questions.

    As you well know, he can't and won't ever answer them because it would demonstrate quite clearly that he has failed at everything he has done.

    No wonder he rages and (worse-ed). He daren't admit to himself that he is a failure.

  16. Mick Anderson
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Based only on the performances we see at PMQs, it's very easy to believe the allegations of bullying within Mr Browns clique.

    Having seen this sort of thing elsewhere, it is also difficult to believe that this culture (if accurately reported) is not a result of the attitude of the man at the very top.

    Perhaps if Mr Brown was more approachable, he would listen to advice from his subordinates. That might even lead him to make fewer mistakes in running the country.

  17. John Bracewell
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I agree the questions you raise are important but there is, it seems, no way of getting any answers. I can imagine PMQs for example if any of your questions were put, Brown would just go into one of his pre-prepared tirades of how it would be worse if the Conservatives were in government. His henchmen use the same technique in interviews and are allowed to get away with it by a supine media.
    So all that is left is Brown's character to attack, obfuscation, dithering, (misleading, personal attacks ed) smearing (Blair, colleagues and opponents) etc.
    It is totally unsatisfactory but the only hope is that his character is what puts people off another 5 years of him, but the opinion polls inexplicably are seemingly improving for Labour as his flawed personality becomes more apparent.
    Are there ways of obtaining answers or will it be just more claim and counter-claim? Maybe the election leaders' debates will help but only if the presenters of the shows are better than the Speaker at keeping Brown to the subject and actually giving an answer.

  18. Duyfken
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I wonder also of further significant sums to be added, now and in the future, to the public debt by reason of the "off balance-sheet" PFI schemes, and how large a total these provide.

  19. backofanenvelope
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Dennis Healey, I think it was, once said that politicians needed a hinterland. I think his was photography? John Major had cricket. Margaret Thatcher collected china ornaments. Harold Wilson played golf and Harold Macmillan shot innocent birds.

    But right from the beginning in 1997 it has been obvious this is a government of (poorly behaved people-ed). Their hinterland are the football terraces.

  20. Blank Xavier
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I may be wrong, but I suspect character has become the question because of television.

    Television it the medium through which our culture communicates with itself; and a communication medium modifies messages passed through it – they become *different messages*, depending on how you transmit them, for the content changes.

    Television, as a communication medium, requires that the message captivates the audience and keeps them paying attention. (Compare that to a book, for example; once you've bought a book, you own it; the content doesn't have to constantly captivate you).

    Because of this, television is unsuited to analytical, thoughtful, sustained analysis and investigation. It is too slow, too boring, too dull, compared to other messages which could be being transmitted.

    As a result, television – the medium through which our culture communciates with itself, about all of the major issues in our lives and country, such as our leadership – alters messages to be entertaining, amusing, diverting, dazzling, offensive, anything in fact which grabs attention.

    This leads to a focus on the character of the incumbent – for it permits stories which grab attention; "Brown throws phones at staff", "Brown takes anti-depressants", etc, etc.

    No careful analysis here, nor can there be, without television becoming entirely different to how it is.

    I concur with Mr.Redwood with regard to judgement over character; but this is an approach which cannot be communicated through television and so over the decades and generations during which our culture has become accustomed to television and the messages it transmits, we have become accustomed to dealing in the superficial, because analysis is absent.

  21. Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I do think that it is a little more than judgement. The Prime Minister represents the nation and has to lead and to act in our interests. So I have just read in the latest Spectator that the Germans can't stand Brown (join the club). Is this healthy for us if ever we need to get Merkel on our side? I don't think so.
    And what if we as a nation require that we are led in a direction we do not wish to go. I ask you – would we follow Brown? I don't think so.

    I agree that leaders to not have to liked – but to be a bully and to lash out and not accept responsibility (all of which clearly applies to Brown) is dangerous for us all and risky.

  22. Deborah
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Balance of payments? Gosh that's a distant memory.
    Do they still keep records? They certainly don't publicise that particular inconvenient truth nowadays.

  23. Gammidgy
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I do so hope that the Conservatives do not try to make political capital from the (word deleted) behaviour of the National Bullying Hotline. This charity's website appears to make much of its association with high profile Conservatives, but serious questions should be asked about the (word left out) basis of this organisation.

    (The contributor then implies allegations against the charity's conduct)
    The suggestion that Gordon Brown may be a less than charming employer is hardly new, but the new complaints would be more valid if we knew more about from whence they come.

  24. Citizen Responsible
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I recently voted in an online poll to choose from a list of our PM’s 10 worst financial blunders entitled “Gordon’s worst gaffe”. Lists such as the above are now becoming a regular feature of any comment on his performance along with new books detailing his alleged temper tantrums and other behavior deemed inappropriate for a Prime Minister and leader. Yet still we see Labour narrowing the gap in the opinion polls.

  25. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I have never liked Gordon Brown since his first budget when he introduced a tax on pension funds AND argued it was for our benefit. I have thought of him as a con man ever since (or if you do not like "con man" try "spin merchant").

    As for Blair, the first thing I recall him saying, round about 1997, was to the effect that he would always put his family first, for which he generally received a favourable response. I thought this was a very discouraging thing to hear from a prime minister, who in a moment of major crises one would hope would put the Nation first, even at the expense of his family.

  26. JimF
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    There is a similar answer to each of your questions. Brown was arrogant enough to assume the rectitude of a central tenet that his supervision had caused strong growth, in perpetuity, to replace boom and bust. Rather like Major, whose central tenet was that the ERM would solve our economic problems, Brown's central thesis failed. Had he realised that, tried to put things right and gone to the electrorate in an honest way, he would not be being personally castigated now. Rather, forgotten.

    In hindsight, would Major have been better to have thrown in the towel after the ERM debacle, and let a more right-wing leader look after things? Probably so. His stale tenure from 93-97 was, although economically benign, devoid of a central thesis except perhaps that keeping quiet and standing clear is the best thing Government can do. This staleness let Blair and Brown in, and the rest is history.

    Prime Ministers hang on for too long.

  27. Posted February 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Firstly you are right that political debate should about what Brown has achieved for the country – early growth half the world average, subsequent recession with us underperforming our competitiors, approaching blackouts, borrowing £500 million a day – not whether he, on the "plus" side cries on TV or (minus) gets angty & hits chairs. It is a sign of how purile most politicaL

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, it's a mark of how little really seperates the parties that there is no debate about Afghanistan, nationalised health and medicine, deficit spending, uber-taxation, europe, state meddling in every last aspect of our lives, AGW and the refusal to confront reality and build power stations, empty talk on crime. Since little substantive differentiates them, you end up with the purile.

      I used to laugh at the Americans when Clinton played the saxaphone and the candidates wives published cookie recipies. Now we have the PM pubically emoting and denying he bullies people against a back drop of accusations (of behaving badly with staff-ed)*

      As you say, purile to the nth degree.

  28. Posted February 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Firstly you are right that political debate should about what Brown has achieved for the country – early growth half the world average, subsequent recession with us underperforming our competitiors, approaching blackouts, borrowing £500 million a day – not whether he, on the “plus” side cries on TV or (minus) gets angty & hits chairs. It is a sign of how purile most political debate, refereed by our media, is.

    (Comment on Cabinet Secretary overtaken by events-ed)

    Thirdly it is interesting to see from its accounts that this seems to be one of the very few charities whoese words get reported which isn't a government funded Fakecharity. http://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/sponsor
    That this is so unusual that it is worth commenting on is itself worth commenting on & show how government PR has so largely co-opted the charity industry. It is also therefore worth commenting on the fact that it has come under particular attack from Labour for being "biased" because independent. This indicates the extent of the social malaise induced by big government using "charity" to advertise for more big government & regulation.

  29. Andrew Johnson
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Great list of analytical questions. Why aren't the Conservatives (your good self and a tiny handful excepted) asking them every day – on blogs, in newspapers, on the radio and TV – and then pressing for clear answers?
    Perhaps the party needs to appoint you as the party's senior election strategist PDQ.

  30. ed t
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    This is called keeping your eye on the ball. Very good. Please fwd to CHQ.

  31. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    We know why he changed the inflation target from RPI-X to CPI – because CPI is in fact the EU's HICP, Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices.
    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_expla

    It has occurred to me that because UK government ministers and officials are embarrassed by their failure to get us into the eurozone, they're more inclined to make other, often unnecessary, concessions in an attempt to show willing and partly compensate for that major failure.

  32. Kevin Peat
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Hear hear on those questions.

    Now the question of David Cameron's character and why his poll ratings are so low despite us having in office the worst Prime Minister in history.

    The reason is because the very last thing we want and the very last thing we need is another media magician. The fact is that we're wise to this art now, we're sick of it, we're wary of it, we're weary of it.

    The last thing we want is another false party of London centric place men headed by Blair Mk II.

    The election is not in the bag by a long shot.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 23, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Yes, it is. Indeed, there is no doubt who will win.

      A broadly leftist, high tax-and-spend, pro-state, social democratic party, that is pro-european and talks tough on crime whilst refusing to build sufficient jails; one that cannot reform welfare despite endless pronouncements, one that will probably preside over power cuts, one that will talk about cutting back the state but not seriously do so, one that will not abolish the anti-terror laws that actually oppress us. One that sees us as serfs to be taxed and ordered about not as the free citizens some of us still aspire to be Free, competent, self-reliant, prductive citizens that don't need to be infantised and patronised by whatever party happens to take office on about 25% of the actual vote.

      The only thing in doubt is what the name of the party will be.

      • APL
        Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        Stuart Fariney: "A broadly leftist, high tax-and-spend, pro-state, social democratic party, that is pro-european and talks tough on crime whilst refusing to build sufficient jails;"

        Good catch!

        Yes, we might elect another administration .. perhaps .. but the policies won't change.

        By the way to learn that Tory and Labour have been colluding to keep certain policy areas out of public discussion – is an outrage.

  33. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    No Prime Minister has the right to do anything they like to whom they like. Labour is rotten to the core. Brown is the perfect personification of the party of which he is leader and which will do anything to keep themselves in positions of power. It's about time that people stood up to him instead of allowing him to treat us all with contempt. I know that anyone who has the temerity to so do will face the full panoply of a co-ordinated smear campaign but it’s time to bring this ‘reign of terror’ to an end.

  34. Yarnesfromhorsham
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Any chance that Dave might get round to asking some of these questions? When will he find the net?

  35. Posted February 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Although you are right to question Gordon Brown's decisions, I think there are other aspects to being a good leader. One is being open and trustworthy. The second is being decisive.

    On the first the following counts against Gordon Brown.
    – Redfining the Golden Rule of balancing budgets over the course of a business cycle, or "Investment" to his own advantage. (The inflation definition is the same).
    – Introducing a income tax cut announcement in his final budget loudly, whilst not making it clear that this was to be funded by abolishing the lower 10% band.
    – Never answering a question straight. So fundamental questions on the economy are answered with an attack on Tory party policy.

    On decisiveness
    – To go missing when the going gets tough. Therefore let juniors take the flack for bad news.
    – On expenses, to come out with proposals after David Cameron, and then not to distinguish the tougher line for members of his own party.
    – To spend a million quid on preparing for a general election, then backing off at the last moment.
    – To constantly fill the daily news with new policy intiatives that never see the light of day.

  36. emil
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    12. Why don't senior Conservatives repeat these questions over and over again every time they appear on television ?

  37. Jmaes Clover
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I quite agree that the focus should be on Brown's record, rather than his character, though the two are connected. There have been many indications over the last decade that he is not a straight and charming man- Tom Bower's book give a good picture of his seething years as Chancellor. The very fact that we are constantly told that he is really a sweety tends to give the game away.
    The only problem is that his record is so long that it's difficult to know where to focus. Citizen R is right: there are endless lists on Blogs of his catastrophic failures, much longer than John's.
    Personally, I would emphasise
    1) his easy acceptance of debt rather than cautious prudemce (how ironic)
    and 2) his social engineering, especially in the area of Education, where he seems even more manipulative than Blair.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Why, indeed? Latching on to point 11, indicated below are real GDP quarterly growth statistics for Germany and UK over the last 3 years (%):
    Germany UK
    2007 Q1 0.3 0.8
    2007 Q2 0.3 0.7
    2007 Q3 0.8 0.5
    2007 Q4 0.1 0.5
    2008 Q1 1.6 0.7
    2008 Q2 -0.6 -0.1
    2008 Q3 -0.3 -1.0
    2008 Q4 -2.4 -1.8
    2009 Q1 -3.5 -2.5
    2009 Q2 0.4 -0.8
    2009 Q3 0.7 -0.2
    2009 Q4 0.0 0.1

    So the German economy had a bigger contraction (6.8%) than the UK (6.4%) over a shorter period (4 quarters vs 6). Although it is early days yet, it does appear that Germany is genuinely pulling out of recession whereas the UK might not be. Note that Q4 generally seems to be weak in Germany, possibly a seasonal effect.

    Germany is led by a Centre-Right government that is steadily reducing taxation and has limited its fiscal deficit.

  39. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    If you surround yourself with third rate staff and then order them about like flunkeys. If you bypass parliament because of your huge majority. If you bypass the cabinet by behind the scenes sessions on the sofa. If you depend on people who shout and yell swear words all the time and who live on the planet Zog.
    Then you are bound to make a lot of serious mistakes.

  40. Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    The answer to your 11 questions is easy.

    Cause Gordon is (unflattering word for no good at his job).

  41. Stewart Knight
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    The anti-bullying charity has already been put under pressure and been wholly misquoted by senior politicians in a most dishonest way.

    Pratt said she made public that had been complaints and people seeking advice in the past, no names or dates mentioned so no data protection to worry about, and she says the sole reason she made public the fact that there had been complaints was because Mandelson, instead of addressing the problem like he should have with Brown has put his head in the sand and tried to make political capital out of it. Seems fair enough given the senior positions of the people involved.

    Now she and the charity are demonised.

    Votes first seemingly before the people or workers, but of ciorse that is the norm like the economy and general honesty.

  42. David Price
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Definitely keep pressing the government for answers to these questions but good luck on getting any answers. Considering the governments past performance on providing any responses, especially in Parliament. Based on what I've seen on Parliament TV, I wouldn't hold my breath.

    I disagree with you about character though, character refelects attitude and determines how someone will act in the future and what judgement they will make, they are inextricably linked. In particular if you rely on other people to get things done anger, spitefulness and a climate of fear will not get you very far.

    How can someone think clearly when they are having temper tantrums and how can they get the best from their team, for the benefit of the country, if they maintain such a negative working atmosphere. There seems to be no spark of leadership there whatsoever and Brown and Labour simply have to go for the good of us all.

  43. Posted March 22, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  44. Posted April 3, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Can you provide more information on this? best regards

  45. Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I concur with Mr.Redwood with regard to judgement over character; but this is an approach which cannot be communicated through television and so over the decades and generations during which our culture has become accustomed to television and the messages it transmits, we have become accustomed to dealing in the superficial, because analysis is absent.

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    […] the myth of a declining manufacturing sector.  Book mark this one for the next time someone like John Redwood complains about […]

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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