former prime minister

Jim Pickard

It is, of course, entirely co-incidental that Gordon Brown has announced his plans for the future today: just hours after Tony Blair, the yin to his yang, published his autobiography. (Which is apparently flying off the shelves).

Brown will be doing lots of charity stuff – for free – including education work for Africa. The rather sober note struck by Mr Brown is surely not a deliberate attempt to remind the public that he, unlike some, is not a jet-setting millionaire?

He says he will be doing public speaking in the USA, but this will be to fund his charitable work. He has set up something called the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown to pay for staffing costs.

(Incidentally, we asked Ed Balls if his old mentor could come back to the shadow cabinet doing international development; not in a million years was the gist of his response.)

Here is the Press Association:

Gordon Brown announced his plans for the coming months today, including working to increase global access to education and boosting internet use in Africa. The former prime minister will join the Global Campaign for Education’s High Level Panel on Education for All and will work to secure economic justice in  Read more >>

Jim Pickard

This morning’s papers, blogs, radio and TV will be full of insights into the Blair biography and what it can tell us about the mind of the prime minister who won three terms for Labour.

Key lines include: 1] He believes that Gordon Brown abandoned the principles of New Labour, which led to this summer’s electoral defeat; 2] if he had sacked GB it would have destabilised the government and made matters worse; 3] he can’t regret the decision to go to war in Iraq, although it leaves him with nightmares.

Unfortunately it also reveals that he is a lousy writer. Reading through the chapter on Northern Ireland, you can’t help but be struck by the clunky way in which he strings sentences together. The impression is of a motivational speaker and part-time preacher trying to sound both philosophical and matey at the same time. And that grates.

The best political autobiographies make you feel that you are in the room with the writer, hearing verbatim conversations and watching history unfold one-to-one. This one doesn’t. It will be astonishing if Random House recoup their £4.6m book advance. Read more >>