Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brown and Eden

As it’s crowing season here at the Reptile, let me cast my mind back to the summer of 2006.  I wrote a piece about Suez and, with the failure of Anthony Eden in mind wrote the following:

As for lessons we can take today from Suez, the most interesting can be drawn by analogy, by examining the character of Eden, the instigator and principal fall guy of the debacle. Eden was the gilded heir of a long-term leader: unparalleled leader in his field, a renowned expert on foreign affairs. Yet he had been made to wait too long for the top job, long enough that his strengths had calcified into potential weaknesses: an over-strong certainty of his own infallibility. By the time he finally succeeded to the leadership it was to be cataclysmic failure in his specific area of expertise that was to bring him down. Something for Gordon to ponder as he squats over the Treasury, biting his nails and brooding over the ultimate prize so far denied to him.

As the economic news gets worse and worse, along with Labour’s electoral prospects, Brown’s thoughts must be turning towards the question of his historical legacy.  I suspect it will be seen as a parallel with Eden – that Brown was never temperamentally suited to the leadership, that his apparent greatest strength was actually his downfall and that crown princes don’t make good kings.  Brown and Eden will be forever linked in the history books as representing respectively Britain’s largest foreign policy blunder and her largest economic blunder of modern times.  Happy days…

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