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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the dream job turned sour [Paperback]

Colin Hughes
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010

- In opposition he was the strategic driving force behind New Labour.

- In government he was one of Britain's most intellectually assured chancellors.

- Within his own party, he seemed an unchallengeable power.

- Everything in his background prepared him for the premiership.

And yet, when Gordon Brown entered Number 10, early hopes for a Labour revival were swiftly dashed. Gordon stumbled. Prevaricated. The 'new dawn' promise clouded over. What went wrong? Was it events? Or Gordon himself ? Policy - or the man?

Throughout his career, Gordon Brown's fortunes and failures have been comprehensively tracked and carefully scrutinised by the top journalists at the Guardian and the Observer, and this book draws together their writing for the first time, building up a chronicle of Brown's trials, blow by blow. Along the way, it attempts to solve what will come to be recognised as one of the biggest political conundrums of our times: How did Gordon Brown let the New Labour supremacy slip away?


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Guardian Books (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852652194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852652190
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Searing analysis of Gordon Brown's leadership to coincide with the run-up to the next general election

From the Back Cover

In opposition he was the strategic driving force behind New Labour.

In government he was one of Britain's most intellectually assured chancellors.

Within his own party, he seemed an unchallengeable power.

Everything in his background prepared him for the premiership.

And yet, when Gordon Brown entered Number 10, early hopes for a Labour revival were swiftly dashed. Gordon stumbled. Prevaricated. The 'new dawn' promise clouded over. What went wrong? Was it events? Or Gordon himself ? Policy - or the man?

Throughout his career, Gordon Brown's fortunes and failures have been comprehensively tracked and carefully scrutinised by the top journalists at the Guardian and the Observer, and this book draws together their writing for the first time, building up a chronicle of Brown's trials, blow by blow. Along the way, it attempts to solve what will come to be recognised as one of the biggest political conundrums of our times: How did Gordon Brown let the New Labour supremacy slip away?


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Browned Off 13 Feb 2011
By Neutral VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Harold Wilson once said "A week is a long time in politics." In Gordon Brown's case every week of his premiership was too long, as this collection of articles from the New Labour-friendly pages of the Observer and Guardian demonstrates. Brown's premiership started optimistically, echoing the Blairite policies of New Labour while dismantling some of its practices. He immediately revoked the Order in Council which had allowed special advisers (notably Powell and Campbell) to give orders to civil servants. It was immediately clear that Brown did not share Blair's penchant for strutting the world stage. Within days Labour had a four percent lead over the Conservatives as Labour benefited from the "Brown Bounce" a mixture of relief that Blair had gone and support for the new man at number 10.

Brown's underlying problem was his personality, or rather lack of a balanced personality. Ed Balls made a light-hearted observation about the difference between Gordon Brown and Stalin. "One is a ruthless and determined dictator who brooks no opposition and the other was the leader of the Soviet Union." Unfortunately, many a true word is spoken in jest. Within two years a Tory MP, Stephen Crabb, asked "a seemingly innocent question about what Brown intended to do about bullying in the workplace," then added, 'Given the reliable reports of a senior Whitehall boss throwing around mobile phones and printers and swearing at switchboard operators.' " Members of the Westminster village knew to whom Crabb referred.

Neil Kinnock said, " Gordon has a perfect face for radio." Brown's attempted counter by appearing on You Tube to make governmental announcements, was a disaster, especially as he smiled as inappropriately as an undertaker at a funeral.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely one-sided. 18 May 2010
Format:Paperback
Given it's based on articles published by the Observer and the Guardian, it's about as impartial and independent as the Labour press secretary.

The book follows Gordon Brown from his instatement as PM, to late 2009, during a time in which he survived numerous plots.

Initially, the left wing media sucks up unbelievably to Brown, never digs into troublesome areas, never really questions his economic performance, and generally uses straw man arguments to dispel the PM of any wrongdoing. As an example, only once is the question of the ridiculous levels of debts built up during the Labour years brought up, and that is in one line. Blink, and it's gone. The bank crisis, however, is a continuous target - no doubt because it serves as a more convenient scapegoat for the left.

As we get further into the time line, however, even socialists have to concede that all is not well in number 10. Dithering, backtracking, the election that never was, the expenses scandal, and stories of ill temper start to gain traction, though critical articles are usually followed by unrealistic gloss, and half-hearted attacks on the Tories.

This pattern of acknowledgement furthermore is indirectly observed, by articles continuously becoming more factual, skipping the adjectives, and turning their wrath towards right leaning newspapers, rather than the politicians.

What I found most amusing is that socialists continuously claim the right is the side of spin - and despite this, produces article and article leaving out factual information for pure rhetoric, nicely summed up in this book. And the editor has left the best (or worst) for last - the tellingly named article "In defence of Gordon Brown".

As an indicator as to why it's so important to get information from a broad range of newspapers, this book clearly shows why.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Collective Look at Gordon Brown - the Politician 16 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Reproduction of previous articles from The Guardian over a number of years. Well-written journalism from the paper as expected. Good to have these many articles published together, which map-out the sad, sad story of "What went Wrong with Gordon Brown". A sad story both politically and personally. It appears that we were warned what was occurring and what to expect. Nothing much was done as the stories continued to develop - but party politics is a funny old game. Readers will find much to support the stories given in Tom Bower's book "Gordon Brown, Prime Minister' and more recently in Andrew Rawnsley's 'End of the Party'. Yes, Gordon's dream job did turn sour and makes for a sad story for many involved. Recommended reading for all those interested in [and concerned with] current affairs and politics - not just Labour politics.
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30 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The answer is in the question. 19 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback
OK, OK, so this book is from the Guardian stable, and so you expect a few typos. But, honestly, surely the title of a book should be right? Are the Guardian proof writers too busy saving us from ourselves not to be able to press F7 in Word?

Because the title of the book, of course, was meant to be "What Went Wrong? ... Gordon Brown!"

Weak jokes aside, this is quite a good read, as a bunch of loons (aka looters - hat tip to Ayn Rand & Atlas Shrugged) initially revel in Red Brown acceding to the top of the pile. And then the inevitable disasters happen. One by one the Guardian hacks start to turn against him.

What's amazing about this particular process is that the journos seem genuinely surprised by Our Glorious Leader's demise, as if they really believed Red Brown would be somehow better than his despised predecessor.

If ignorance is bliss the Guardian / Observer hacks (Simon Hoggart aside) must be in nirvana. Seamus Milne is especially hilarious, at least until the penny drops and you realise he is serious. Then he is not funny at all, not even in a "Christ-lock-this-loon-up" kind of way.

Haven't got to the end yet but then again, neither has Red Brown, or this country. If I time it right all three could happen at the same time. Hopefully shortly. Let's start over.
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