One Year On: The Decline and Fall of GordonBrown
and Peter Kerr
Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry CV7 4AL,UK.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston,Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.E-mail: email@example.com
The ﬁrst 12 months of Gordon Brown’s tenure as prime minister have witnessed anunprecedented collapse in his political fortunes. Examining the reasons for thisdecline, this paper sets out to achieve three reasonably modest ambitions. Firstly,the principal aim is to provide a detailed summary of Brown’s record throughouthis ﬁrst year at the helm. Secondly, utilising evidence drawn from poll data andmedia commentaries during the period June 2007–June 2008, it argues that Brown’sproblems cannot be explained by the type of factors that normally help elucidategovernment unpopularity, such as economic instability, party disunity, voterweariness, or indeed, signiﬁcant policy failure. Thirdly, the paper sets out tosuggest, in a manner which is candidly reﬂective rather than theoretically rigorous,that Brown’s unpopularity owes more to his failure to measure up on two keyaspects of contemporary political leadership in Britain; namely, what we term hereas the twin values of ‘Westminsterism’ and ‘modernality’. Whereas the former,stemming from the historically constructed conﬁnes of the Westminster Model,demands strong, decisive, and resolute decision making; the latter, which has itsroots in the more recent discourse of party modernisation, demands the need for amedia-savvy, ‘celebrity’ persona and a ceaseless drive for modernisation.
Gordon Brown; Westminsterism; modernality; New Labour
Gordon Brown’s ﬁrst year as prime minister has been nothing if not eventful.Twelve months after entering No. 10, in June 2007, it is fair to say that thingshave not gone quite according to plan. After an initial season of promise, inwhich Brown’s measured handling of a series of crises had led to an upswingfor Labour in the polls, a subsequent succession of tactical misjudgements,mishandlings, and mistakes, have led the Prime Minister to the brink of what,in the circumstances of New Labour’s prior electoral success, could be a highly
2008 Palgrave Macmillan 1746-918x/08www.palgrave-journals.com/bp