Stewart Wood worked with Gordon Brown in late 2007, when as a new Labour party leaders, and therefore a new but unelected Prime Minister, he dithered about calling a General Election, and then decided against. The financial crisis evaporated his poll lead, and he never recovered politically from that.
Wood posted a series of tweets reflecting on that moment through the lens of the difficulties Theresa May is having with her equivalent election, which are worth sharing so they don’t get lost in the Twitter firehose.
Five years on from Brown’s decision not to call with an election, Brown’s spin doctor Damian McBride wrote up the day-by-day inside story (in the Telegraph) of how an apparently inevitable decision to go to the polls became a decision not to.
On the other hand, we all should be grateful that Brown was Prime Minister in 2008; he held his nerve, and used his knowledge of economics and history, to make sure that the British banking system didn’t collapse, and helped stiffen the resolve of the world’s leaders at the height of the crisis. People forget that we were hours away from a collapse of the banking system.
As Aditya Chakrabortty wrote:
What sticks out about that period is how Brown and Alistair Darling were not only acting without a roadmap, they were driving with Cameron and Osborne right on their bumper telling them to do a U-turn. The diagnosis that British banks were dangerously low on capital was correct – but it was the opposite of what most bankers were saying.
Had Brown called an election, and not won, the thought of Cameron trying to make those decisions is frankly terrifying.
The image at the top of the post shows Brown arriving at No. 10 as new Prime Minister in 2007.