Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keith Hann Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keith Hann Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Keith Hann

Two quotations keep running through my head. The first is from Wodehouse: "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine." The other is by Churchill: "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".

He was speaking of Russia, of course, but it also seems a perfect description of that archetypal aggrieved Scot (and alleged Stalinist) who believes that he is finally about to become our Prime Minister.

Finding myself unexpectedly under-employed at the weekend, I devoted it to reading a big, thick biography of Gordon Brown. I hoped it would explain what drives this obsessive and unusually secretive politician. It didn't. I also wanted to understand why so many Labour colleagues, former civil servants and media commentators are queueing up to make disobliging remarks about him, emphasising his unsuitability for the high office he has yearned to occupy for well over a decade.

Tory columnists write gloomily about the impending "Brown terror". But what on earth could he do to us as Prime Minister that has been beyond him in the last 10 years, during which he has exercised almost complete control of every aspect of domestic policy?

So what, exactly, has he done? First and foremost, kept the United Kingdom economy vaguely on track and avoided the crisis that has been the hallmark of every previous Labour Government. Given the Bank of England its independence. Single-handedly created an enormous crisis in the private pensions sector through his pounds 5bn per annum raid on their funds, which has also adversely affected the performance of the stock market. And vastly complicated the tax and benefits system, at least until last week's belated nod towards simplification.

He has raised huge sums in additional taxes and spent them on the public services, while doing his utmost to block their reform. …

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