As usual Andrew Rawnsley's piece in the Observer yesterday is good reading. It asks how public services can be made more accountable.
What I want to focus on though is something that is covered almost as an aside in Rawnsley's piece as he discusses the history of Labour's attempts at public service reform. It is this:
Another problem was that his (Blair's) idea of devolution was limited to handing down power to head teachers or hospital managers. Choice remains an empty word for many parents, pupils and patients. Then there was the huge obstacle of his chancellor. Gordon Brown constantly and often very effectively used his power at the Treasury to sabotage the reforms pursued by his next-door neighbour. It never struck me that the Mr Brown of those years really had a theory of his own about how to reform public services. He simply knew what he didn't like. What he didn't like was anything proposed by his rival. As a senior member of the current cabinet says: "Gordon wasn't necessarily against reform, he was just against any reform proposed by Tony. It was about authorship as much as anything." As a result, reform happened in a compromised and cramped way.
I have heard and read this description of the dynamic between Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Brown many times before. The thing is though, why the hell did anyone (including Blair) put up with this? And how the hell can Brown reconcile this sort of petulant, childish, pathetic behaviour with all the rhetoric he spouts about his moral compass and doing the right thing. It seems to be just accepted by their colleagues, commentators, civil servants etc. that Brown had a massive strop for 10 years and during that time tried to block much of what Blair was trying to achieve, not through ideological differences (which would have an honourable motive) but through sheer petty jealousy that it wasn't him making the decisions.
The more I hear about Gordon Brown's real behaviour (as opposed to the image he tries to project) the more sickened I am. The man has no moral compass or scruples as far as I can tell, he is only motivated by the pursuit and retention of power.
I for one am very pleased that in a few months time he will be consigned to the political history bin. It cannot come soon enough. The man is unfit for office.