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Brown takes reins as U.K. prime minister

Stephen Beard Jun 27, 2007

Brown takes reins as U.K. prime minister

Stephen Beard Jun 27, 2007


Scott Jagow: After a decade of Tony Blair, Britain has a new prime minister. Today, Blair handed the reigns to Gordon Brown.

Brown was Blair’s finance chief. He’s been highly praised for the way he ran the British economy. But Brown has always coveted the prime minister’s job.So now that he’s moved into number 10 Downing Street, how will he run the country?Our man in London, Stephen Beard, reports.

Stephen Beard: For the first time in a decade, the prime minister posing outside number 10 Downing Street is not Tony Blair. He certainly isn’t . . .

[Sound: Crowded street, shouting]

The cameramen had to shout at Brown, telling him to wave and smile.

Unlike Blair, Brown is an awkward performer. But, says analyst Howard Wealden, Brown has a much better grasp of economics than all his recent predecessors.

Howard Wealden: The new prime minister is, of course, a man who has more experience of finance, industry, business than any other probably over the last 50 years.

And, says David Frost of the Chambers of Commerce, Brown’s been generally popular with British business.

David Frost: We’ve had a good period of stability — business wanted that. They wanted an end to boom and bust, they’ve got that. And it’s enabled them to plan.

The voters are less happy. As finance chief, Brown poured record sums of taxpayers’ money into the National Health Service, or NHS, and into education. But people say these public services are not much better than before.

As prime minister, Brown says he’s got the message:

Gordon Brown: I’ve heard the need for change. Change in our NHS. Change in our schools.

But, says Howard Wealden, just as Gordon Brown leaves the Treasury and takes over the top job, Britain’s economic prospects are darkening, interest rates rising ominously.

Wealden: We are entering a very difficult period now. The future will be very different from the past. Now, we’ve got to see whether he can handle it.

In his first speech as prime minister, Gordon Brown quoted his old school motto: “I will try my utmost.” Compare that modest pledge with the soaring rhetoric of Tony Blair on the day he won power:

Tony Blair: A new dawn has broken, has it not?

Today, the more modest-looking Brown era began.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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