The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF

Natan Doron makes the case for Gordon Brown to lead the IMF.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn stepped down today from his position as head of the IMF to focus on clearing his name after being charged with sexual offences in a US Court. The Telegraph have already put the boot into any suggestion that Gordon Brown should be the man to replace him.

Jeremy Warner, the economics editor of the Telegraph, led calls last night to oppose Brown’s candidacy. Warner previously admitted to having not read Gordon Brown’s book about the future of global macroeconomic policy, published at the tail end of last year. This is not a crime in itself but undermines his ability to contribute to the debate about the future of global markets. This is Warner’s main argument against Brown:

“A man who has spent his life pursuing “big government” is scarcely likely to rub along well with an administration committed to cutting the state back.”

To suggest firstly that Brown spent his political career pursuing ‘big government’ is a gross over-simplification of his achievements as chancellor; New Labour abandoned many of the traditional Labour economic orthodoxies and displayed flexibility and pragmatism to deliver GDP growth consistently above the Eurozone average between 1997 and 2006 and maintained UK unemployent at a simliar level of consistently below the Eurozone average too.


Furthermore, for Warner to argue that the IMF exists simply to cut back the state shows just how far removed he is from debates about global markets.

The arguments surrounding conditionality and the role of the IMF in structural adjustment loans which decimated many developing economies are at the heart of why the IMF needs to reform. It is fast becoming the new orthodoxy that the problems facing the world today call for greater global economic cooperation, something Brown has made the main argument of his narrative on the next steps for globalisation.

Brown has always seen eradicating poverty, creating jobs and solving the public health and environmental problems facing the world as a major priority. The 10 Downing Street website lists the 2005 Gleneagles agreement to deliver global cooperation on eradicating poverty and climate change as one of Brown’s greatest achievements.

While other New Labour big hitters have used their post-government publications to ditch the dirt on eachother, Brown devoted his book to arguing that only increased global cooperation can deliver increased welfare for the world’s poorest and avoid a decade of low growth and high unemployment. He has argued this case with increasing passion and eloquence in recent months.

Brown’s credentials for the job aside, Cameron and Osborne are displaying vindictiveness in their opposition to his candidacy. Alistair Campbell is right to point out that during the Blair years Labour did much to advocate on the behalf of British politicians for international jobs, whatever their party background. Their posturing on Brown and the IMF job, on the back of the royal wedding invite snub which extended also to Blair, shows the Tories top men to be extremely unstatesman-like. It is perhaps particularly grating that Gordon Brown is infinitely more respected than George Osborne in the field of economics.

We on the left should be leading the defence of Gordon Brown today because to undermine Brown is to undermine Labour’s record in government too. Those in the Labour tribe have called upon the current leadership to do more to stand up for our record in government and not lay the blame for the deficit at the door of increased public spending but at the door of bailing out the banks (necessarily).

Here is our chance to do just that and in the process remind people of Brown’s leadership and vision on the global stage that saw the kind of global economic cooperation the world now needs going forward into the 21st century.

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47 Responses to “The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF”

  1. Natan Doron

    My latest piece for @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron

  2. William J. C. Brown

    The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF http://t.co/8RLvURy

  3. Habeeb Yusuf

    RT @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron

  4. Dan Johnson

    RT @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron

  5. Dominic Minghella

    Only the cheap politics of spite would motivate a Cameron veto of Brown for IMF. Let's hope he's bigger than that. http://t.co/AZbkXJw

  6. Richard

    I’m not wholly convinced that political vindictiveness can be levied as Brown spent quite a bit of effort procrastinating on Tony Blair’s presidency of the EU. Also, if anyone could explain how Cathy Ashton was promoted over Tory candidates of significantly more experience, i’d be eager to learn.

    Fair enough, support & campaign for Brown but it’s a bit disingenuous to expect the Tories to act any differently from Labour. Kinnock was fine as EU commssioner (not my choice but the guy’s CVs fine) same goes for Mandy – but the Ashton thing deserves payback when even Labour folk had never heard of her.

  7. Amy Jeffrey

    RT @DMinghella Only the cheap politics of spite would motivate a Cameron veto of Brown for IMF. http://t.co/AZbkXJw

  8. Edward Samson

    To anyone thinking of recommending GB for any post of any significance I say the following
    “I will put an end to boom and bust”!!!

  9. Ed's Talking Balls

    Absolutely hilarious!

    If Brown’s leadership was so strong as you suggest, Labour wouldn’t have looked so rudderless under him as it did.

    If his stewardship of the economy was such a roaring success then he wouldn’t have run up colossal budget deficits and erroneously declared the end of boom and bust.

    The idea of having a recently defeated British politician in charge of an organisation which scrutinises nations’ economies (obviously including Britain’s, where his adversaries are in charge) is patently absurd. The man has proved that he is entirely partisan and stubborn, among his many flaws as a politician. He wouldn’t be able to resist criticising those who take a different view to him, irrespective of how rival policies work out.

    P.S. Do please continue to sing the praises of your ex-leader. Eulogising probably the most unpopular Prime Minister in history will serve to remind the electorate that Labour remains well and truly out of touch with popular opinion.

  10. Gordon is Bonkers

    The better Labour Chancellor was Darling by a mile. At least he lived in the real world and told the truth to the population, for which the forces of hell were unleashed on him by Brown and his cabal including the two Ed’s.

  11. Voice of reason

    Brown is about to find out that you need a reference to get a proper job-unlikely given his form thankfully

  12. billy marden

    I knew there would be figures somewhere that showed how strong growth was under the wing of Gordon Browns financial diligence (of course, you only get popular properganda if you scour the internet).

    Alas, It’s always the most modest, highest achievers, that fall victim to politics. Brown is no exception.

  13. billy marden

    I knew there would be figures somewhere that showed how strong growth was under the wing of Gordon Browns financial diligence (of course, you only get popular propaganda if you scour the Internet).

    Alas, It’s always the most modest, highest achievers, that fall victim to politics. Brown is no exception.

    (oops – didn’t spellcheck, now I’m going to get a lecture on the shame of my education – even though I was edumikated in a school of Thatch’)

  14. George Care

    RT @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron

  15. Ash

    “Brown’s credentials for the job aside, Cameron and Osborne are displaying vindictiveness in their opposition to his candidacy. Alistair Campbell is right to point out that during the Blair years Labour did much to advocate on the behalf of British politicians for international jobs, whatever their party background.”

    Cameron and Osborne just can’t afford to do that though, can they? If people start to cotton on that Gordon Brown is a globally respected politician and economist who played a pivotal role in averting a second Great Depression, they might start to wonder if the Tories have been just a teensy bit disingenuous in implying that our present pickle is largely the result of his reckless spending on schools and hospitals rather than, y’know, the most monumental private-sector, free-market cock-up in living memory.

    (Note: this is not to gloss over the fact that Brown shouldn’t have allowed that 3%-of-GDP deficit to open up in the mid-00s, or the fact that he should have done more to regulate the banks and to rebalance the economy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if he’d done things differently maybe the deficit would now be, say, £120 billion rather than £140-odd billion. But the more you look at the situation in countries where Gordon Brown *wasn’t* Prime Minister, the less plausible it is that he’s largely to blame for the situation in the UK.)

  16. Abominominable

    My favourite Capability Brown statistic is:

    In 13 years of Labour Government, unemployment was below 7% every year but one; In 18 years of Thatcher-Major, there was only one year when it was ever that low. So, just think how terrible the job market is now, then multiply that out for each year, every year, for two decades.

    I hope this statistic is true because I’ve certainly been repeating it a lot.

  17. William

    Is Natan Doron on planet earth?Brown was the worst PM since Lord North,destroyed both the UK economy and New Labour which,under Blair, won 3 times.Anybody can pump up the economy with a false property boom, but Brown’s knowledge of history excluded Anthony Barber.Anyway,he is bonkers, suffers from chronic depression,takes too many pills,and all of this is well documented on The Slog website.The Tories once had a leader with problems(Edward Heath), they ditched him,had a quick rethink under a leader unassociated with the previous regime,and were back in office for 18 years.Put Brown in charge of Scottish Labour and see if he can dislodge Salmond!

  18. Terry White

    Gordon Brown to take over the IMF? You’ve got to be stark, staring mad.
    You say ‘We on the left should be leading the defence of Gordon Brown today because to undermine Brown is to undermine Labour’s record in government too’. Well that is precisely Labour’s problem isn’t it, that yet again, as has always happened before, Labour have been turfed out of office having left Britain’s finances in a mess, only this time it is utterly catastrophic. Labour’s problem. On no account must it be allowed to become Britain’s problem.
    I say again, Gordon Brown to take over the helm at the IMF? Never!

  19. David

    Well argued article. Surely this is just about who would do the job well. Brown genuinely does know is stuff. He’s pretty clear on the economics he believes in – it’s about public investment stimulating private growth. It’s also about absolute support for the development of Africa. If that’s what the IMF want they should go for him. It shouldn’t be about personalities.

  20. ElaineS

    You one of Salmond’s bullying henchmen that lurk around the internet ready to put the boot in at any point where talk about Gordon Brown or Labour is going on William? Its the SNP henchmen that will ruin Scotland, talk about sectarianism,a lot of SNP followers remind me of Scottish Defence League in their over the top Scottishness.
    Totally agree with you Ash, the Tories in my opinion fear the thought of Gordon putting himself forward for the post. So many people seem to forget that world reknowned Economists such as Blanchflower and Krugman think highly of Gordon yet non economists like the Joe bloggs of the world seem to have opinions that are completely redundant because they haven’t a clue what is required for this post in the IMF. They just don’t like Gordon so shout their mouth of! One thing for sure Cameron,Osborne and Salmond cannot walk in the same economical shoes as Gordon.

  21. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron via @UKactivist

  22. Crouch End Labour

    RT @leftfootfwd: The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF: http://t.co/AZbkXJw by @NatanDoron

  23. Jon Tomes

    “Put Brown in charge of Scottish Labour and see if he can dislodge Salmond!”

    Ha ha ha ha ha snort (wipes tear from eye). Put Brown in charge of Scottish Labour and ensure Scottish independence!

    Wonder how well Labour will do at the next election if Scotland doesn’t provide them with their normal North-of-the border voting block? The best way to dislodge Salmond is to find (somewhere, somehow) a Scottish politician with great interest in social justice and Scotland combined with very little interest in London Labour’s childish partisan behaviour. However, if Labour could see that as a way forward, they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re now in.

    Oh, and to imagine Brown as capable of non-partisan international leadership is to imagine a flight of pigs gearing up on the runway. Laughable.

  24. Anon E Mouse

    This is bonkers. Why on earth is no one concerned about the content of the articles published on this fine blog.

    Gordon Brown is a thuggish, smearing bully – ask David Miliband, Alastair Darling or Peter Mandelson – and you want to force this despicable individual on simple workers elsewhere in the world? How creepy is that?

    As a finance minister he was worse than anyone I can think of. To sell our gold, not his, at a historic low was straight forwardly incompetent. To claim he’d ended boom and bust which encouraged people to borrow more and more money they couldn’t repay because they believed him is shameful.

    To set up PFI hospitals and schools which will cost our children’s children for decades is the just as bad.

    To reward bankers, city slickers and spivs with knighthoods and deregulation and allow tax fiddlers such as the Guardian Newspaper Group, to not pay their fair share is the same.

    If the author of this article ever wants to see the reelection of the Labour Party he would do well to never mention the name Gordon Brown again.

    If Cameron had any sense he’d recommend this clown for the job and keep reminding people again and again just how bad the least popular Prime Minister in history actually was…

  25. Shamik Das

    The mad comments from angry right-wingers on @NatanDoron's article continue apace…:P Read it: http://t.co/AZbkXJw

  26. Liz McShane

    Anon et al,

    Where you awake during the global financial crisis or in a semi coma?

  27. Captain Disco

    RT @shamikdas: The mad comments from angry right-wingers on @NatanDoron's article continue apace…:P Read it: http://t.co/AZbkXJw

  28. Anon E Mouse

    Liz McShane – His austerity plans which may or may not have worked were nothing to do with him and when a decent man proposed a budget that may or may not have worked then told the truth about Brown’s deceit over the economy, he had “The forces of hell unleashed against him” by Brown and his bullies.

    That man was Alistair Darling and his austerity measures were not that different from the government’s.

    But it isn’t about that Liz. The fact is Gordon Brown is a decisive character who is reviled by the population of this country. The only thing he achieved was an inability to balance the UK books since 2002 when we were in a boom. Oh and claiming he’d stopped the economic cycle and selling our gold off too cheaply.

    If Labour are serious about wanting to run this country again and the election of Ed Miliband over his brother would suggest they’re not, they need to pretend the awful Gordon Brown never existed and ensure he is never associated with the party again. Just as Labour did with Thatcher.

    It’s all very well for the party to wallow about, ineffectively screeching about the cuts but they look like a bunch of amateurs at the moment and any association with the most unpopular Prime Minister since records began is madness.

    You forgot to answer this Liz – “To reward bankers, city slickers and spivs with knighthoods and deregulation and allow tax fiddlers such as the Guardian Newspaper Group, to not pay their fair share is an outrage.” Or are you about to go into deficit denial as well?

    And do you really not know the difference between a global financial crisis and a countries’ structural deficit or have you been in a semi coma for the last decade?

    No offence Sweetie…

  29. Vincent

    Actually the main thrust of Warner’s article was:

    “Yet the deeper criticism of Mr Brown is simply that he is not up to the job.”

    I notice you don’t address this argument, as it’s blindingly obviously true. He built a bubble economy based on the self-servingly murky world of finance whilst hamstringing other private enterprise which high taxes and regulation. Hence when the banking crisis hit the UK was accordingly worse affected than other countries with a broader indutrial base. His arrogance to proclaim that he “ended boom and bust” was nauseating.

    In addition, even in the boom years he spent more than he earnt, meaning debt as a percentage of GDP went up from 30% to 50% (without inclusion of the off-balance sheet items like the disatrous PFI). I’ll remind you that these “devastating cuts” are scratching the surface of the deficit, not the debt.

    I don’t blame him for not spotting the timing of banking crisis, but instead for so poorly preparing the UK for a downturn, a cyclical economic inevitability, that the nation is having to repay his debt and will continue to do so for a generation.

    Though you’re right about one thing: his record is Labour’s record, and what a historically incompetent record it is too.

  30. Mr. Sensible

    The Tories’ opposition to Mr Brown is nothing more or less than politically motivated.

    Mr Mouse, of course the previous government should have done more on regulating the banks. But can you tell me what on Earth this government is doing about it? No real agreement to reduce bonuses, no deal on pay transparrency, and grose, not net, lending targets. No wonder Lord Oakeshott said in his parting shot from the Lib Dem front bench that the treasury couldn’t nigociate its way out of a paper bag.

    And so many people criticize the previous government in relation to our gold reserves that anyone would think the fortune telling industry was booming.

  31. Liz McShane

    Anon – As you say” The fact is Gordon Brown is a decisive character…”

    For once, I agree with you 100%!!!!

  32. Ed's Talking Balls

    All this praise for Gordon Brown is most amusing. As someone who has no desire to see Labour in power ever again, it is music to my ears. Keep up the good work!

  33. Jiesheng

    Please stop this age-old, Western hegemonic control over the IMF and the World Bank. Give the post to a non-Westerner.

  34. Anon E Mouse

    Liz Liz Liz – You know what I meant woman but well spotted… ;-}

    (It’s this blasted Mac keyboard I’m not used to!)

  35. Liz McShane

    Anon – am happy to correct you!

    What about the windfall Labour Govt got from selling off the 3G mobile spectrum?

  36. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – The clown said he’d ended boom and bust for goodness sake and as for the gold it was a historic low.

    One doesn’t need to look for a fortune teller – just understand what you’re doing and clearly he didn’t. As a Labour supporter why on earth are you defending the sell off of OUR property in such a costly way?

    What happened about boom and bust Mr.Sensible or letting the Guardian media group fleece the taxpayer in our country?

    And btw Brown DEREGULATED the banks – that was the problem.

    And not a single apology from the Labour Party yet. But there will be in the future…

  37. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – I’m not saying that everything Labour did was wrong but the main claim of ending a normal economic cycle by abolishing boom and bust was pretty important.

    But you’re doing what the left typically do in that you seize a small item, such as the the sale of 3G and argue it to death.

    What about the big stuff Liz? Like leaving the country broke and STILL denying it….

  38. Liz McShane

    Anon, I am not a deficit denier but yo fail to see/recognise/understand the impact that the global financial crisis had on The UK economy & that under Labour’s stewardship we averted a 1930s style depression (thankfully Osborne was not at the helm then. Also other key western/developed economies followed Labour’s initiative.

    Neither do I subscribe to the simplistic notion that macro economies are akin to a household budget – maybe that is why we will never agree on this matter.

    I see that you are mastering the Mac keyboard a bit better! Practice makes perfect!!!

  39. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Thank’s for the final compliment.

    I have not mentioned the global economic crisis – I’ve seen Inside Job and realise what happened but I’m on about the books not balancing since 2002 – which they didn’t.

    Well?

  40. Ash

    Anon –

    “And do you really not know the difference between a global financial crisis and a countries’ structural deficit”

    The two are hardly unrelated; the structural deficit is largely the result of the structural damage done to the financial and housing sectors of the UK economy during that crisis. It’s a favourite Tory trick to conflate the 2.5-3% of GDP structural deficit Gordon Brown was running pre-crisis with the structural deficit we have now, which is around three times that size.

    (Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying Brown’s deficit was so small it doesn’t matter. It does matter. But a bit of balance wouldn’t go amiss.)

  41. Νέα Νέμεσις Εργασίας

    Hilarious deficit denial from @leftfootfwd: "The case for Gordon Brown at the IMF" http://t.co/AZbkXJw

  42. 13eastie

    Everybody calm down.

    This is obviously a spoof.

  43. Peter

    I THINK GORDON BROWN IS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE IMF JOB EVEN AFTER HE LEFT OFFICE HE IS CAMPAIGNING TO ERADICATE POVERTY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES,HELP FAMILIES,GROWTH FOR PEOPLES JOBS TO BE SAVE IN THE RECESSION AND ALWAYS AFRICA TO BE ON BOARD IN LINE WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO HAVE GOOD INTERNET SERVICE.

  44. Ray North

    Gordon Brown’s biggest failure was an inability to control the banks – but this was the culture that abounded amongst New Labour at the time: let the banks and the entrepreneurs do what they want. In hindsight, when they asked for further deregulation, Labour should have sent them away with a flea in their ear.
    Blair and Mandelsohn have failed to acknowledge this failing, Brown, to his credit has. One of the strongest reasons in favour of his candidacy to be head of the IMF (as I state in my article on http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/05/should-gordon-brown-become-head-of-the-imf/), is that Gordon is far too clever a man to allow himself to make the same mistake twice. As a Politician he was deeply flawed, but as a economist and as a Chancellor his record is as good as any – he would make an excellent head of the IMF.

  45. Jojo

    It’s also hilarious when the left talk about ‘the global crisis’ as if it was a natural event, a storm with no cause. between Wall st and the City how much of the global Market is left out? Isn’t Anglo-Saxon economic crisis on a global scale? Gordo the gorilla turned a blind eye to the haemorraging of our manufacturing base, he leaned on the City to extend and pretend our way through this random storm. He allowed house inflation to run unchecked. As far as we know he still does not see that Britains have to formulate a creative response to a shift in economic power from West to East, he looked like an old sea captain who thought we should lash to the mast, boost GDP with stimulus and wait for bright weather to appear on the other side.

  46. Anon E Mouse

    Ray North – His record as chancellor is a shambles. Look at the debt in this country.

    Without exception every Labour government has left office with the country worse off than when they gained power. And without exception it’s always someone else’s fault – “The global crisis” The pound in your pocket” blah blah.

    All Gordon Brown will do is remind the public about Iraq etc etc – the man was the least popular Prime Minister ever (since records began – 1923 I think) and you want the public to be reminded of this fact whenever the IMF does something?

    Who’s side are you on Ray North? Do Labour activists really not get it to that degree?

    And even though I’d sack him for being too soft on crime Ken Clarke was a better chancellor btw…

  47. Ed's Talking Balls

    Ed Miliband would surely be furious with articles such as this.

    He is on record as saying that Labour needs to own up to its mistakes and learn lessons from the past, but here we have an article and several comments eulogising the architect of his party’s electoral defeat.

    Like I’ve said, this is fine by me. It suits me down to the ground. But I was under the impression that you wanted Labour to regain office at some point?

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