Gordon Brown and legitimacy

Does anyone get sick of hearing the claim that Gordon Brown’s position as prime minister is illegitimate because he wasn’t directly elected? The story goes that because he never contested an election as prime minister, but took over in a “coronation” after the 2005 general election which wasn’t a “real” Labour leadership contest, he is somehow less of a leader than Tony Blair or John Major.

This is nonsense. In the 2005 election, the electorate knew that Tony Blair would stand down after a year or two, and that Gordon Brown was his likely successor. The only question was when Blair would stand down. As for the leadership contest, there was one; it is just that the “heavyweight” Labour MPs, who had aspirations for ministerial office in the likely event of Brown winning, did not stand against him. So, the Labour government was elected by an electorate with their eyes open. It is not as if they elected Blair, only for him to be deposed in some sort of palace coup, as Thatcher was in 1990.

I have long said that someone who craves a position of leadership, or feels entitled to one, is not fit for it, and this is my position with regard to Gordon Brown. However, the public knew he was going to be prime minister if they voted for Blair, and got him.

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