Francis Beckett

Just after Gordon Brown left office, I spoke to his aide Wilf Stevenson, who was helpful when I wrote my instant biography, suggesting Brown might co-operate with a rather fuller version. 


Wilf suggested writing direct to Gordon.  "We have to work out what we're going to do" he said.

I did what Wilf suggested, and haven't heard a thing.

Brown may feel - and I'd have some symnpathy with this view - that it would not be very dignified to follow Blair's "it's all Gordon's fault" book with aniother saying "It's all Tony's fault."  He's said to be working on a book defending Labour's economic record, a difficult and worthy task if ever I heard one.

On the radio this morning, Anthony Howard seemed to be encouraging Gordon to write his memoirs.  Unlike Blair, said Howard, Brown is a good writer.

This isn't quite right.  He was once. His James Maxton biography was a good piece of work.  But politics took that ability from him. Politics has a tendency to destroy good writing, because the good writer wants to be as clear as possible, and the politician needs to muddy the waters a bit.

Today - as Deborah Mattinson wrote in her entertaining book about her years with Brown - he has the political obsessive’s faith in slogans.  A gloriously funny passage in her book Talking to a Brick Wall describes Mattinson’s  doomed attempts to talk him out of this. “’So’ he would ask ‘which do they like best? Is it Investing in Britain’s Potential or Investing in Opportunity for All?’”

He will not do well if he writes his own biography. He needs to put his trust in a writer who, despite everything, still rather likes him.

Modesty forbids me to suggest names.