Gordon Brown

In the days when Tony Blair still considered it in his interests to make sly digs at Gordon Brown - in 2001 he called him the best Chancellor of the century - he once called him 'my Lloyd George'. This has a pretty obvious double meaning. No doubt, if challenged, Blair would have said he meant it in the 'reforming Chancellor' and 'joint pillar of the administration' sense, and not so much in the 'drive me out of office and split the party for a generation' sense.

Gordon does seem to have decided that he does not want to take Lloyd George as his model. He would prefer to succeed into office peacefully. Which leaves him with two obvious models: Anthony Eden and RAB Butler.

Eden had been Churchill's obvious heir for fifteen years when he finally became Prime Minister. Perhaps it came too late for him. Presumably Brown would seek to avoid making a huge mistake in his first few months in office, and being forced to resign almost immediately. Though Eden, presumably, did not do this deliberately. A man who had been Foreign Secretary for much of the preceeding 20 years was blindsided by a foreign affairs crisis. Brown certainly seems to be creating a comparable economic crisis.

RAB, of course, never made it at all. The only plausible rival to Eden in '54 he lost out to Macmillan 18 months later and to Douglas Home in '63. By '65 he had missed his chance. If the economy is looking weak when Blair finally quits, this could end up being Brown's fate too.

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