Martin Bright

Gordon Brown’s Legacy Revisted

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No one outside Downing Street can imagine how tense it must be getting in the bunker as the economic situation worsens and the period Gordon Brown has to turn things around shortens.

My suspicion is that it is getting very tense indeed. I was informed on Friday that  No 10 was not happy with some of the things I have been writing on The Bright Stuff. We already know that people around the Prime Minster were concerned at the suggestion that they were studying footage of Obama's apologies. Officials have been unable to identify the person who was asking for this footage I am told. All very mysterious. But then again, would you put your hand up?

Now they are unhappy at the suggestion that discussions of the "legacy" are off-limits. I can only say that I can't help it if senior people come out of meetings and tell me they can't discuss the subject. Maybe it's all in their imagination. Perhaps the Prime Minister is perfectly happy to discuss his legacy, it's just people are just too scared to raise it with him.

If  Brendan Carlin's Mail on Sunday article is anything to go by, there's every reason to be frightened. It seems Brown's legendary temper had been turned on Harriet Harman for her suspected disloyalty.

Carlin, one of the lobby's most experienced hacks, writes: "The Mail on Sunday understands his anger boiled over at a private meeting in No10, with Mr Brown shouting: ‘Who the hell does that woman think she is?’ Sources say Mr Brown swore more than once during heated exchanges with aides on how to silence Miss Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader."

There is talk of sacking the troublesome Harman, but this is a difficult one, as she was actually elected to her post.

Meanwhile over at the Observer Andrew Rawnsley observes that Brown's people have been burning the midnight oil (and whatever you burn at dawn) to help the Prime Minister with his speech to Congress this week. This paragraph is fascinating:

"When they first knew they had landed this big gig for Mr Brown in Washington, Number 10 got terribly excited. Now, as the deadline to the speech approaches, they are feeling increasingly anxious. The prime minister knows this is a very important speech for his reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. Over the last week, he has spent more working hours labouring over his address to Congress than he has devoted to anything else. His most senior aides and closest allies in the cabinet have been in and out of his office from very early in the morning - a seven o'clock summons has been typical - to help the prime minister prepare for his glittering moment on Capitol Hill."

Rawnsley advice is as follows: "I recommend that the prime minister watches Obama's address to Congress. That succeeded because he gave a candid account of what went wrong during the bubble years and that allowed him to be persuasive about how it can be put right. How does Gordon Brown follow that? He could do a lot worse than copy it."

Not that Brown ever requests such material of course..