My Life, Our Times
Vintage, $22.99 pb, 512 pp, 9781784707460
It is a cliché to note that Gordon Brown is an enigma as far as contemporary British politics is concerned. A fundamentally decent man of high moral standing, Brown forged with Tony Blair arguably the most successful political partnership the United Kingdom has known. Between them they won three elections (two of them landslides) on a platform of ‘modernising’ Britain, deploying a mantra of fiscal prudence combined with social justice aimed at improving the position of the least well off. More generally, Brown and Blair presented an intelligent, humane, and competent common front that makes the efforts of many of today’s politicians seem, by degrees, naïve, irritating, or supercilious. Blair’s reputation took a dive with the reckless decision to back George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, but Brown had little to do with that decision. On the contrary, many of the positives of Labour’s new tenure in office can be directly attributed to Brown’s determination to improve welfare conditions. Yet his stocks seem just as low as Blair’s. Why?