David Smith (no Labourite
he) on Gordon Brown:
It is hard to find too much to criticise in the macroeconomic record of the
past 10 years. Any chancellor who leaves office having presided over growth
in every single quarter can be proud (Kenneth Clarke did so too, but over
four years, not 10). But unless the economy takes a dive in the next few weeks,
that will be Brown’s achievement. Continuous growth has been accompanied
by low levels of both inflation and unemployment.
Ten years at Number 11, with positive growth in every quarter? Brown has a
lot to be proud of – and that’s before you even start thinking about his
leadership of the international financial community. His chairmanship of the
IMFC (essentially the IMF’s board’s board) has been excellent, his constant
pushing on development issues has been salutary, and his willingness to spend
political capital on innovative ideas such as the IFF has been very impressive.
I’m sure that he’s more than ready to move next door. But he surely will go
down in history as one of the great finance ministers of the modern era.
On the other hand? Ridiculous levels of debt in the UK economy, which might
well prove to be unsustainable. A failure to make government spending more effective.
Fiscal indiscipline after the first few years. But in the grand scheme of things,
the positive surely outweighs the negative.