Under New Labour there were two governments: one official, one largely hidden. The other government belonged to Gordon Brown. Now Steve Richards has created a unique biography of that administration – and a brilliant and understanding portrait of a huge political figure, his personal weaknesses and immense strengths. In so doing Richards, easily one of our best commentators, uncovers the unfashionable truth that politics sometimes matters as much as personalities.
This book has been a long time coming, but it's well worth the wait. Steve Richards is quite simply one of the best in the business. His mix of criticism and compassion has produced the most intelligent take yet on the strange world of Gordon Brown and New Labour.
At the beginning of the financial crisis, in September 2008, Gordon Brown called an emergency press conference in which he declared, 'we will do whatever it takes to restore stability in the financial markets'.
He was to repeated the phrase ‘whatever it takes’ constantly in the following weeks.
As Shadow Chancellor Brown would do whatever it took to restore Labour's economic credibility. As leader-in-waiting he would do whatever it took to acquire the crown. As Prime Minister he would do whatever it took to buttress his enfeebled regime, going as far instigating a rapprochement with Peter Mandelson, a figure he had come to despise. Determined, wilful, multi-layered in his complexity, Brown would always do whatever it took to survive.
New Labour, as a political force, rootless and defensive in its origins, would similarly do whatever it took to retain support in what its founders regarded as a conservative country.
Written by one of the most influential political commentators in the UK, the Independent's chief political commentator, Steve Richards, this political expose examines Gordon Brown's wildly oscillating career and the ruthless and sometimes shallow pragmatism displayed by New Labour as a whole.