on 17 February 2016
This to me has another title = My Scotland, Our Britain. I thought it would be a light entertaining read, but it was hard going. Sig, Brown expresses himself convolutely. Who are the Scots, he asks. Yes, who are they? The mayor/provost may be Don Enzo Fiorepazzo etc, while the luminaries might be Capaldi, Nardini, Benedetti etc. I am not addicted to coffee because I never encountered it nella Scozia, nor did I encounter aubergines, Schwarzbrot, or courgettes. Ad ogni modo Sig. Browns interpretation of Scozia is reflective and balanced. But it lacks some vital parameters e.g. Where are the ships, where are the manicured putting greens, where is Doon the watter, where is an idiosyncratic Sprache, and what is the current economic framework, etc.?
on 3 August 2006
This is an authoritative and sympathetic portrait. Brown's contribution to the triumph of New Labour surely will be judged as massive. The author shows how unlike Blair or Mandelson he was able to successfully bridge old and new Labour. He was a party man, steeped in Labour history, who recognised that the new individualism and assertiveness created by Thatcherism required a new ideological approach.
His creation of the Treasury as a powerful governmental instrument of social policy and reform was underpinned by his ethical Christian socialism. This is turn is founded on a genuine sense of equality and a passionate hatred of the corrosive effects of unemployment, compassion plus the work ethic you might say. This Christian, ethical approach to the fundamentals is the key to how he was able to re-think Labour ideology while retaining a radical edge and the continuing support of the party.
For me the most enduring and endearing image in the book is the younger pre-MP Brown, surrounded by an air of general personal disorganisation, carrying around with him a plastic carrier bag full of press cuttings and statistics into which he would delve to clinch an argument. There is an unworldliness about this formidable intellectual which is one of the many paradoxes of this most politically and economically assured of Chancellors.
I recommend this book as an objective "work in progress" of one of the greats of contemporary politics. How he will perform as premier is the great next question. On the evidence of this book, he remains Labour's, and perhaps the nation's, best hope.