Gordon Brown: A true great?

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.

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