Having commented in previous posts on Gordon Brown's inability to answer questions in interviews (HERE & HERE) and his tendency to pack far too much information into his speeches (e.g. HERE), I suppose I should give him points for slight improvement on both counts in his encounter with Piers Morgan.
But, about half-way through the interview, he reverted to type when asked about the delicate matter of his relationship with Tony Blair after the Labour party leadership became vacant on the death of John Smith in 1994 (and after Blair had become leader and won three general elections).
A thin slice of meat
Although it was arguably the most revealing part of the whole show, this short sequence of less than four minutes (see below) doesn't seem to have attracted much attention - perhaps because it was such a thin slice of meat that some deft editing had sandwiched between the early banter about student days, wine women and song, etc. and the later harrowing sequence about the death of Brown's infant daughter.
Or maybe it wasn't picked up on because it merely repeated what everyone had already known (or at least suspected) for well over a decade.
After much laughing and giggling in the first half hour, Gordon's smiles suddenly disappear for a good three minutes before he managed another one - which only comes when Morgan turns to the "big rows" alleged to have taken place between him and Tony Blair - that had the effect of restoring the jocularity in time for the last 40 seconds before the commercial break to be conveniently rounded off in an amiable mood of good humour.
The Dirty Dozen
But, in a mere 3 minutes and 40 seconds, Brown had managed to make 12 points that confirm the worst fears of anyone who might worry about the character of a man who so resented the success of his charismatic colleague that he spent the best part of 16 years sulking about it:
1. Brown did believe that he, rather than Blair, would be and should have been the next Labour leader after John Smith.
2. He was angry that Blair won, but "got over it pretty quickly" (er- 14 years later?)
3. He found it painful.
4. There was no deal between him and Blair at the Islington restaurant (but actually there was a deal that had been agreed elsewhere).
5. Blair had agreed to stand down and support Brown "w- when that was the case".
6. It was up to Blair to decide when to deliver on the deal.
7. He "has to remember" that Blair had won a general election (er- 3 actually) whereas he hadn't.
8. They did have fights that caused tension.
9. It's good to be open and honest that there were disagreements about certain things (!?).
10. In spite of all that, they "managed" to "get things sorted out".
After 3 minutes, we get Brown's first smile, which prompts Morgan to switch to a lighter mood, during which we learn:
11. Brown never actually threw anything at Blair.
12. He had been been tempted to do so.
(Historical/comparative footnote: you can watch some action replays of Mrs Thatcher in a chat show in 1983 here).
Look Tony, you might not know this, but John has died, we have got to sort this out.
It would appear that within minutes of John Smiths death, the succession to the leadership was on Browns mind - before Blair may have even know he had died.
No wonder he was bitter when it went to Blair!
Yes, but the big question is: does he really believe that the party would have won a landslide victory in 1997, let alone two more victories if he, rather than Blair had been leader?
I very much doubt that they would have done. What's more, I'd been recommending Blair, rather than Smith, to succeed Kinnock - mainly on the grounds that I'd already been so impressed by his speaking & communication skills.
There's another post on why, 6 years ago, I thought Labour would be unwise to replace Blair with Brown here: http://bit.ly/7j53iq
And, when Blair did finally go, the smartest thing Brown could have done would have been to pass the torch to the next generation (Milibands, etc.) on the grounds that he wanted to spend more time with his (very young) family, which would have been perfectly understandable, given that one of his children has a very nasty illness.
That way, he would have gone down in history as a thoroughly admirable/honorable chap who was willing to put country before party and family before personal ambition - after which he could have graduated to become a much respected elder statesman - rather than being remembered as a ditherer who seriously damaged his his party by failing to call an early election that they'd almost certainly have won.
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