Hat tip for political prophecy to Michael Gove who, in October 2007, provided the best analysis of what makes Gordon tick yet delivered by a senior Tory, and one which is even more impressive in the light of the McBride Affair In a speech to the Bow Group, Gove dissected the (then newish) PM’s flaws to devastating effect, comparing Brown’s shortcomings to those of leaders past such as Lloyd George, LBJ and Mitterrand. Idealism, sincere initially, falls victim to the methods used to win and retain power:
“…in order to win power, in order to hold it, in order to manage affairs, in order to woo public opinion, that idealism is progressively diluted, twisted or sacrificed. Such a leader can appear impressive, even after the idealism has dissipated, for as long as the trappings of power allow him to occupy a position at the centre of events.
But, with the idealism which once animated him now bent out of shape by the exercise of power, the occupancy of office becomes increasingly an end in itself. And behind the manoeuvres which holding on to office requires, there is increasingly less to show – a vacuum where once there was a vision.”
At the heart of this, Gove argued, was a pathological instinct to centralise and cling to power, trusting only an inner circle of devoted loyalists:
“He is profoundly uncomfortable with anything which occurs on any terms but his own. Because acquiring power has involved a sacrifice of so much, in terms of youthful idealism, the surrender of any power is an acutely painful exercise to contemplate.
If we look for one second at the nature and structure of his Government – the fabled big tent – then we can see that he is a ringmaster particularly fond of the whip.