‘US believed Brown had abysmal track record’

Last Updated: Friday, December 3, 2010 - 20:52

London: Former British prime minister Gordon
Brown was written off by the US embassy here for having an
"abysmal track record" that led him from "political disaster
to disaster," according to classified cables released by the
whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

According to extracts of the embassy cables published by
The Guardian today, the US mission here wrote off Brown within
a year of his taking over as the prime minister from Tony
Blair.

Rober Tuttle, the then US ambassador, blamed Brown for
presiding over a "post-Blair rudderlessness" which prompted
senior Labour figures to complain of their despair to the
embassy.

The diplomatic cables confirm that US President Barack
Obama`s allies were irritated by Brown`s intense manner: he
interrupted a Thanksgiving call to the current President`s
ambassador to lobby for a Tobin tax on financial transactions
in the face of US opposition, the report said.

"Prime minister Brown continues to press hard ... despite
being fully aware of US opposition to the tax," former
ambassador Louis Susman wrote in December last year.

The US embassy sent many cables in July 2008 after
Labour`s "terrible" by-election defeat to the Scottish
National party in Glasgow East.

Tuttle wrote in a cable on July 31, 2008, a week after
the by-election: "As Gordon Brown lurches from political
disaster to disaster, Westminster is abuzz with speculation
about whether he will be replaced as prime minister and Labour
party leader, and, if so, by whom ... A terrible by-election
defeat ... has left the Labour party reeling and fuelled
fears among MPs that Brown`s leadership of the party, and
his premiership, may now be beyond repair."

The ambassador wrote pen portraits of several Labour
figures who might succeed Brown. They included David
Miliband but not his brother Ed, who is now party leader.

Tuttle concluded: "We don`t see a clear tipping point on
the horizon but given Brown`s abysmal track record over the
last year, that day could come when Labour MPs return from
vacations in late August/early September."

Nick Brown, one of the former prime minister`s key aides,
briefed the US embassy on by-election defeat and admitted that
it had been a "terrible" blow, but insisted his namesake
would see off his Labour opponents.

"Nick Brown said the prime minister and his allies would
be able `to slap down`" any threat, political counsellor Rick
Mills wrote.

The embassy`s view of Brown improved in the autumn of
2008 when he led the way in recapitalising banks after the
collapse of Lehman Brothers.

In a cable on October 15, 2008, the acting minister
counsellor Kathleen Doherty wrote: "After a year of plummeting
poll numbers and questions about his ability to lead, Gordon
Brown is suddenly riding high."

Within months, however, the embassy described Labour as a
"sinking ship". In a cable on April 24, 2009, the political
counsellor Greg Berry said Labour was in such a poor state
that none of Brown`s possible challengers would want to
strike.

"We assess it unlikely that any Labour politician with
his or her eye on the future would want to take on the sinking
ship that is the current Labour party at this time of
crisis," Berry wrote. "It is more likely that Labour will go
down in the next election and then will begin the
process of rebuilding."

Later, on May 6, 2009, Berry reported "A wounded, but
still standing, Gordon Brown remains at the helm of his party
and is likely to do so until the voters speak in the next
election, increasingly likely now to be postponed until the
latest date possible next spring ... The man who has nursed
his dream and grievance of being prime minister
since 1994 is not going to walk out of Downing Street now."

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 3, 2010 - 20:52

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