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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Brown’

The World Has Been Turned Upside Down: The End of the Era of Robber Baron Capitalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 24th 2018

The world has been turned upside down in the last few weeks. Ten years after the banking crash showed that the economic assumptions which shaped most of our lives were bogus, along has come the collapse of Carillion, the biggest outsourcing company in the UK.

The taking of the public out of public services has been a long war of attrition which has been waged by all the mainstream Westminster parties. It hasn’t improved public services or benefitted the public. Instead, the winners from it have been the companies who have won such contracts, their directors and shareholders, who have made millions of pounds from the public purse.

The Public Private Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was born of John Major’s government, but came of age under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown: being seen as a way to engage in significant public investment while keeping it off of the government’s books. Of the 720 PFI-PPP schemes more than 75% of them were signed off under New Labour’s period in office. They liked the supposed efficiency the private sector aided, but in reality, were driven by undertaking public spending off the balance books and the dogma of thinking ‘private good, public bad’.

Most of us know that public sector monopolies can provide poor services insensitive to the needs and interests of the public. But the tales of PFI-PPP were of a new order of providing services which weren’t about the public, but creating a guaranteed income stream and scam to the vested interests of crony capitalism. Thus, PFI-PPP schemes involved grotesque inefficiencies and inflexibilities which were paid for by the public purse. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Brown: The Ghost in the Machine

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 14th 2017

Gordon Brown, like him or loath him, was a titan of a figure in British politics for close on two decades. Along now comes Brown’s attempt at putting his case and a call for understanding and redemption in his autobiography – ‘My Life, Our Times’.

It comes with much baggage for all who will read and encounter it, including from the author himself who goes through the pretense that he had to be reluctantly dragged into writing it, explaining himself: ‘For me, being conspicuously demonstrative is uncomfortable – to the point where it has taken me years, despite the urging of friends, to turn to writing this book.’

Gordon Brown’s life story could be gripping and compelling. It contains all the hallmarks of good drama. Here is a man gifted with rare talents and drive; who knew he wanted to serve. At an early age comes tragedy when he is deprived of eyesight in one eye. This does not stop the young Brown but only makes him more determined and resolute. Read the rest of this entry »

The Myth of the Great Leader: Gordon Brown, Jimmy Reid and Alex Salmond

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 1st 2016

The times they-are-a-changing. There is a tangible feeling in the air of discontent, anger and bewilderment. People feel let down and cheated by the multiple powers that be.

It isn’t surprising then that there is a palpable sense of national nostalgia depicted on TV – remakes fill the screens (Are You Being Served?, Porridge), while period dramas (Downton Abbey) or endless documentaries on World War Two and the Nazis are hugely popular.

The left aren’t immune to this either – having always had their own strand of radical nostalgia from primitive communism, to William Morris’s eco-utopia, the spirit of 1945, and the current vogue for ‘what would Keir Hardie say?’ Moreover, radical nostalgia now seems stronger than it ever has been on the left. It is conservative, about the past offering better prospects than the future, and denying the present and recent past. Jeremy Corbyn is a fitting embodiment of it: consistent and unchanging in his views since 1975, uncaring about electoral prospects, and without any evident self-criticism or original views.

The above view of the world is linked to one of the left’s great pillars – the Great Leader view of political change. Paradoxically, for a political tradition which is supposedly about collectivism, the left have bought into this individualist view of change. And of course, despite all the talk of equality, the left has been about brotherhood – so in Britain, the Great Leader has to be a man. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great British Economic Miracle is an Illusion

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 31st 2016

Something is wrong with the British economy.

George Osborne seems to be experiencing his own ‘Boom and Bust’. Just before Christmas he was singing the joys of the British economy on the mend.  Yet a few weeks later he changed his tone talking of the uncertain economic times.

He hasn’t had to look too far for his troubles – from the tax credits’ chaos where he had to do a U-turn, to this week’s judgement that the bedroom tax was illegal and discriminated against domestic violence victims and disabled people.

If that wasn’t bad enough there was his ‘deal’ with Google where Osborne reached an agreement that they pay £130 million in lieu of taxes over the last ten years. This is a paltry 3% corporate tax rate – the lowest in the developed world.

The ghost of a former Chancellor hangs over Osborne – Gordon Brown – the man who said he ‘abolished Boom and Bust’. The similarities are two-fold: political and economic. Both have positioned themselves as the heir apparent behind their more electorally appealing colleague, David Cameron for Osborne and Tony Blair for Brown. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is the Real Gordon Brown and Why It Matters?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 3rd 2013

Gordon Brown dominated Scottish politics for several decades. Now gone from the stage, he has only left memories and the issue of his legacy.

Brown is a fascinating figure – a very public person, but private; moral in his deliberations yet filled with caution; supposedly radical but profoundly conservative.

Kevin Toolis’s new play ‘Confessions of Gordon Brown’ (on at the Pleasance during the Festival) attempts to get inside the mind and psyche of Brown. This is a potent idea and something writers previously explored with Blair, perhaps most notably in ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’, where he is seen to be haunted by the ghosts of Iraqi war dead.

Toolis portrays Brown’s personal tragedy – as a man of idealism being lost in the compromises and challenges of politics. Yet to imagine Brown’s plight as primarily one of personal demons involves reducing the political down to just the individual, and issues of motivation and conscience. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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