This week’s spat over who gets to be Prime Minister, and when, has revealed a lot about the character of Gordon Brown.
We’ve discovered that Gordon Brown is not a leader. When the time comes to stand up and take charge of events, he is nowhere to be seen.
Brown is a man who supposedly has a burning ambition to be Prime Minister. The problem is he is also the kind of man who likes to wait for the perfect moment – a moment which, as we all know, almost never arrives. This week, he had a golden opportunity. He could, if he chose, have forced Blair’s resignation and, in all likelihood, would have become Britain’s next Prime Minister.
But now just wasn’t the right time for Gordon Brown, a man for whom the grass is always greener in the future.
A series of local government elections are coming up in a year’s time, and everyone knows that Labour are going to take a bit of a beating. Brown would much prefer to remain tucked up safely in the Treasury, while Blair takes the heat for Labour’s defeat. Then, and only then, Gordon imagines that he can step in and offer the party a new vision for the future, allowing them to take on the next General Election with confidence.
The problem is that he has failed to understand what leadership is actually about.
Good leaders want to be in charge now – they genuinely want to lead. They get to take all the plaudits when things go well, but equally, they must be able to stand up and be counted during the tough times – they must rally their troops, and show them the way forward when the road ahead seems difficult.
If Brown had accepted this week’s opportunity to become Prime Minister, he could have taken on the challenge of leading Labour into next year’s elections. There would have been no guarantees of success, but he would have at least tried, and had the opportunity to show the world that he had the self-belief to lead one of the world’s most powerful countries. Instead, by refusing to take up the challenge of being Prime Minister, he has told the world that the Labour Party has no chance of success in next year’s elections.
The events of this week bode ill for Britain under a future Brown Premiership. If Brown is a man who prefers to shirk a difficult challenge than accept it, how will Britain fare when faced by an international crisis? We live in a complicated and dangerous world, and plenty of tough and often unpopular decisions will need to be taken to protect our security.
But, instead of standing up and being counted, all I can imagine is that Britain under Brown will take the cowardly option, never stepping forward out of the shadows.