Monday, January 09, 2006

Smoke and Mirrors?

A curious episode is discused by Robert Peston in the Daily Telegraph (9th January 2006) about Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor and heir-apparent to become Prime Minister when Tony Blair resigns. It seems the Alan Greenspan's, US Federal Chairman, address in St Bryce’s family church, where Brown’s father was Minister for many years and which young Gordon attended, was not all it seemed.

I, like many others, naively, it seems, took the address by Greenspan, an eminent economist , to be associated with Adam Smith – it was called the ‘annual Adam Smith lecture’ . According to Peston it was actually a tactical move planned by Gordon Brown months ahead to be part of the crowning of Brown with the mantle of Adam Smith, after Brown became Prime Minister.

Unfortunately, Tony Blair had a different time-table and when he made it explicit that he was not retiring just yet, he mucked-up Gordon’s plan. Hence, the Greenspan lecture in political terms was downgraded to, well a lecture, mainly on Adam Smith and not about Gordon’s suitability as a PM.

Greenspan managed to give a hint of his previously intended role as crowner of the new ‘king’ of financial rectitude:

"Kirkcaldy - the birthplace, in 1723, of Adam Smith and, by extension, of modern economics - is also, of course, where your Chancellor of the Exchequer was reared. I am led to ponder to what extent the Chancellor’s renowned economic and financial skills are the result of exposure to the subliminal intellect-enhancing emanations of this area."

Knowing Gordon Brown for many years as a decent, intelligent and honourable person, and, I might add from his years of awaiting his political coronation as a Labour Prime Minister, a most accomplished player of the long-game of an ambitious and talented politician, I am not sure how much credence to give to Robert Peston and the thesis presented in his book, “Brown’s Britain”, Short Books (try Amazon).

His book appears to be well-informed, though I am judging from what amounts to the author’s review of his own book, and Blair’s role in the murky waters has some credence, though I confess to being more sympathetic to Blair’s New Labour policies than to Brown’s Old Labour associations. I have never met Blair, but know Brown well enough to converse when our paths (rarely now) cross, and would prefer to listen to him on Adam Smith than Blair.

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