31 December 2017

My Life, Our Times

My Life, Our Times
Soon after Gordon Brown lost the 2010 UK general election, he wrote Beyond the Crash, his analysis of the causes of the global financial crisis. (A side note: in Thailand, the financial crash is called the 'hamburger crisis', as payback for the 1997 'tom yum goong crisis'.) My Life, Our Times, published last month, is Brown's personal memoir of his time as Chancellor and Prime Minister, though he also devotes plenty of space to the crisis and recovery: "In this book, I write of the greatest test that I faced as prime minister: the gravest financial crisis of our lifetime, and one which could have rapidly gone critical in the form of a sweeping global depression."

Tellingly, there was only a single reference to Tony Blair in Beyond the Crash. In My Life, Our Times, Brown is more forthcoming about their longstanding rivalry, accusing Blair of breaking a promise to resign during his second term as Prime Minister. In his own memoir, A Journey, Blair argued that Brown's Scottishness would be an obstacle to public acceptance, which was odd given that Blair was also a Scot. Brown highlights the double standard: "We could not, he said, have two leaders in a row from Scotland. I reminded him that he too was Scottish... The only difference seemed to me that people knew I was Scottish and assumed he was not."

Brown concedes that he and Blair had disagreements: "Inevitably there were heated words exchanged between us privately." But My Life, Our Times focuses more on policies (tax, the NHS, the euro, Iraq, Afghanistan) than personalities. The 'TB/GB' rows described by Andrew Rawnsley in Servants of the People and The End of the Party are omitted.

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