The Deal's off | Media | The Guardian
Given unprecedented access to Gordon Brown's close friends and Indeed, the Queen liked him — and was once even heard to say: 'He's such a charmer. . His response to the difficulties he encountered was just to work harder. . Sue Nye, worried about the Prime Minister's distant relationship with his. The Queen doesn't like him, so he wasn't invited. And Tony Blair and Gordon Brown aren't, although that only rephrases the snub question in. The premiership of Gordon Brown began on 27 June when Brown accepted the Queen's The Government took majority shareholdings in Northern Rock and Royal Bank of Scotland, both of which experienced financial difficulties. .. I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and.
But his greatest sin in royal eyes was to boast that he had saved the monarchy during the episode on which that film was based: Nobody at the palace disputed that Blair had provided wise counsel at a time when the Royal Family had fallen dangerously out of touch with the public mood. But crowing about it as he did in his book was seen as an unforgivable lapse of judgment. Margaret Thatcher was the first prime minister of the Queen's own sex and the closest to her age but that did not mean they bonded Thus when the Blairs weren't invited to Prince William's wedding it was widely seen as revenge.
The only other ex-premier not on the guest list was Gordon Brown. The palace insisted it wasn't a state occasion and tried to draw a distinction between ex-PMs who were members of the Order of the Garter and those who weren't but few believed them. Brown got on better with the Queen adhering scrupulously to protocol but he as chancellor ordered the scrapping of royal yacht Britannia.
The decommissioning ceremony in was the only time the Queen has ever shed tears in public. For most of her reign her relations with her prime ministers has been much better. Her first was Winston Churchill. At first the year-old monarch was intimidated by the year-old war hero. But he took it upon himself to instruct her in the way of politics and her constitutional role and by the time he left office three years later they had formed a strong bond, discussing horse-racing as well as affairs of state.
She remained friendly with Anthony Eden after his resignation over the Suez crisis but was closer to Harold Macmillan. Privately lonely the latter adored the Queen and when he resigned due to ill health she came to his hospital room for their final audience.
In another, a point lead shrivelled to three. In a third, the Tories had closed an eight-point gap since the start of the conference season to get neck and neck. The "crunch meeting" took place at Number 10 on Friday 5 October. Early that morning, in a phone conversation with a close Cabinet ally, Brown was "still going for it" but sounded anxious about what he was going to hear from his pollsters.
The inner court gathered in a ground floor room at Number 10 with a view of Downing Street through its bow-fronted window. Ed Balls was the only absentee. Stan Greenberg put his laptop down on the table and fired it up.
Sue Nye then brought in the Prime Minister. Brown sat opposite the pollster, who positioned the laptop between them so that the Prime Minister could squint into the screen. Everyone else stood about, shifting nervously.
Alexander and Livermore, who had already been shown the polling, looked grim.
Tony Blair And Gordon Brown Attend Lunch With The Queen (CAPTION COMPETITION)
Greenberg presented a gloomy analysis of fieldwork from key marginal seats. Labour had lost ground to the Tories whose promise on inheritance tax appeared to be responsible for much of the dramatic swing to them, especially in marginal seats in the Midlands and the south. The "balance of risk" was that Labour would achieve "a small win".
Looking across at Brown, Greenberg said: If the campaign didn't go well, it could be worse: Brown looked at the pollster: Alexander shifted towards the antis.
Brown walked out saying he was late for a meeting on Burma.
Rage, despair, indecision. Inside Gordon Brown's Number 10 | Politics | The Guardian
Once he was gone, they had a franker debate. They could say in his absence what they could not say in his presence: But to nearly all in the room it was already obvious that "Gordon had gone cold on the whole idea". The inner circle reconvened that afternoon, this time in Brown's office. No one expressed a clear view. No one wanted responsibility for the decision. Everyone avoided his gaze. Less than a fortnight since the triumphalist conference and his ill-judged tease about seeing the Queen, he was going to have to retreat.
He asked Balls to walk with him in the garden to discuss how they might limit the damage. By breakfast-time on Saturday, Brown had absolutely concluded that he would not risk it. The next question was how to announce his climbdown to the world. By Saturday morning, senior members of the Cabinet were in the loop and word of the cancellation of the election was reaching political journalists. One troubled member of the Cabinet observed to me that morning: Brown's court started to devour itself as members of the inner circle attempted to dump culpability for the farrago on each other.
To try to distance Brown and Balls from the debacle, Damian McBride spent Saturday afternoon on the phone to journalists of Sunday newspapers. Several reporters were successfully persuaded that they were at fault for pushing Brown towards an election and then getting last-minute cold feet. As McBride rubbished other members of the Prime Minister's inner circle to reporters, he was caught in the act by Livermore who yelled at the spin doctor: Many relationships in the Brown court were permanently poisoned by this calamitous episode.
Alexander and Miliband would never again trust Balls and McBride. A disenchanted Livermore, who was least skilful in deflecting blame for a debacle that had many authors, left Number 10 six months later.
The fratricidal spinning and the interview fiasco added tactical foolishness to strategic stupidity. Brown was supposed to be the great chess player of politics, the man who always thought a dozen moves ahead.
The legend was exploded that weekend when the supposed grandmaster checkmated himself. Days later, Alistair Darling rose to deliver a pre-election financial package when there was no longer an election. On the Saturday that Brown called it off, the two men agreed that they should pull the inheritance tax cut hastily cobbled together in imitation of the Tories. In the words of a Treasury minister: A dismayed Darling was told by his officials that it was too late: The Chancellor's wife confided to friends: When he addressed MPs, Darling made the announcement on inheritance tax with not a drop of conviction.
The most he would subsequently say in defence of it was that it had "some merit" — damning with the faintest of praise what was supposed to be the centrepiece of his first big occasion as Chancellor. Sitting beside him in the Commons, the true author had a glint in his eye, but it was swiftly apparent that Brown had again been too tactical for his own good. Rather than trump his opponents with this manoeuvre, it looked as though Labour was lamely playing catch-up.
Both the mini-Budget and the accompanying spending review were all too obviously cobbled together on the back of a now redundant campaign leaflet.
Darling, who received a highly negative press for his first important outing as Chancellor, became angry with Brown for forcing him to do it, cross with himself for not standing up to the Prime Minister and determined to be stronger in future.
The PBR was both a significant political error which reduced confidence in the Government's decision-making and a financial misjudgment. Expensive games were played with inheritance tax rather than taking measures to prepare for the economic storm already being signalled by the markets.
After the debacle of the phantom election, what the Government most needed was to be calm, solid and purposeful. This episode instead made it look frantic, hollow and rudderless. Brown, the master of events a month before, had now put himself at the mercy of them. Alistair Darling was at his home in Edinburgh on the morning of Saturday 10 November, when the phone rang.
His Private Secretary broke it to him that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs had somehow lost two computer discs containing the confidential personal and banking information of more than 20 million people. The Chancellor swore to himself. Darling instantly grasped that this was "really very, very bad" for a Government still reeling from the double debacles of the phantom election and the Pre-Budget Report.Gordon Brown US Congress Speech BBC news 6 O'Clock
Gordon Brown was so enraged that he leapt across the room. Grabbing a startled Kelly by the lapels of his jacket, Brown snarled: It is a short walk from Number 11 to Number 10, but a giant leap for one man. The Brown team had been adept at destabilising, guerrilla warfare against Blair. When they were the insurgents, they could pick the issues where they wanted a fight and ignore others.
This left them underequipped for the different demands of being responsible for an entire government and having to battle on many fronts at once.
As Chancellor, Brown had often been able to do his Macavity trick of disappearing in a crisis.
As Prime Minister, he could no longer play the mysterious cat. There is no hiding place at Number He was on a steep learning curve. But since experience was supposed to be the reason he got the job, inexperience was not an alibi Brown could ever use. He sounded surprised to make the discovery that "hundreds of things pass your desk every week".
He did not excel at multi-tasking. His preference and his forte were to concentrate on one big thing at a time. He had largely been able to do that at the Treasury, where he could focus on the four or five major events of a Chancellor's year.
Prime Ministers can get hit by four or five major events in a month, even a week. Torrential volumes of business flow through Downing Street, much of it demanding instant attention.
Civil servants at the Treasury had adapted to and covered for Brown's chaotic and intermittently intense way of making decisions. Officials at Number 10 and the Cabinet Office were at a loss how to deal with his working habits. Confronted with difficult decisions, one senior civil servant found: But quite often the options just get worse.
Geoff Hoon summarises it well: The difference is that Tony broadly let you get on with it. He wasn't much interested unless something went wrong. In contrast, Gordon wants to interfere in every-thing.
He's temperamentally incapable of delegating responsibility.
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So he drives himself demented. Nor was he good at masking it from opponents, who could tell that he was "just overwhelmed by the pressures of being Prime Minister," says Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader and Treasury spokesman. Even the basic housekeeping wasn't being done. Letters from important people, including MPs, went unanswered. An aide to one senior minister lamented that when they called Number 10 "no-one answers the phone". There were cases of foreign embassies not being told whether a visiting leader was going to be granted a meeting with the Prime Minister and dates being muddled up.
The Foreign Office was excited, but could not get Brown interested and there was a gratuitous snub to the "very offended" French. Routine decisions took weeks to process. Cabinet ministers and their senior officials began to speak with extraordinary vehemence about what one called "the sheer dysfunctionality" of Number They did not know the half of it.
On the account of one civil servant: Gordon Brown's morale sank lower. We're still the same people who were very popular two months ago and now we're besieged. One of his most senior and longest serving aides says: He went to ground. He was a lonely figure.
He was consumed with remorse and guilt for the mistakes he made over the phantom election. He became even more temperamental about his coverage in the media, obsessively monitoring the press headlines and the prominence he was getting in television news bulletins. If his speeches and initiatives were ignored or got less coverage than David Cameron, he would "lash out" at those around him.
A dark pall descended on the whole building. An official noted that "he surrounded himself with people who amplified his weaknesses rather than compensated for them.
There was no camaraderie. It was a quite depressive, introverted, dysfunctional coterie. One veteran of his court says: He was in a permanent state of rage," observes one civil servant. He never had a nice word to say to anybody.
He became notorious within the building for shouting at the duty clerks, bawling at the superbly professional staff who manned the Number 10 switchboard and blowing up at the affectionately regarded "Garden Girls", so called because the room from which they provide Downing Street's secretarial services overlooks the garden.
When one of the secretaries was not typing fast enough for an angrily impatient Prime Minister, he turfed the stunned garden girl out of her chair and took over the keyboard himself. Jenny Percival wrote in The Guardian  that Brown's critics accused him of "vote-buying" to ensure he won the vote on this issue. Brown stood before the House and said, "yes". Cameron quoted from a letter written by Labour's Chief Whip Geoff Hoon to Keith Vaz —the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee—in which Hoon expressed deep thanks for Vaz's support and closed the letter with the line, "I trust that you will be appropriately rewarded".
How Bush and Blair plotted in secret to stop Brown - Telegraph
He was subsequently accused by his political opponents as being indecisive. Cameron accused Brown of "bottling" the election because of opinion polls, which Brown denied. The " 10p tax rate cut " as it was commonly referred to, was sharply criticised by Frank Field and several other backbenchers. Field also said that Brown did not seem to be enjoying his job.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson believed that Field was motivated primarily by a personal dislike of Brown,  and Field later apologised, saying that he had regretted allowing his campaign to become personal.
This event was dubbed the "Lancashire Plot"; two backbenchers from North West England urged Brown to step down and a third questioned his chances of holding on to the Labour Party leadership. Several MPs said that if Brown did not recover in the polls by earlyhe should call for a leadership contest. McDonagh, a junior government whip, was sacked from her role on 12 September. McDonagh did not state that she wanted Brown deposed, but she implored the Labour Party to hold a leadership election.