John Penrose MP...
PUBLISHED: 14:50 16 July 2007 | UPDATED: 11:18 24 May 2010
Poor Gordon Brown. He finally got the job he's wanted since he was six. He's been waiting to walk through the door of number 10 Downing
Poor Gordon Brown. He finally got the job he's wanted since he was six. He's been waiting to walk through the door of number 10 Downing Street for years and years. The bunting was out. The cake was baked. The cabinet reshuffle plans were carefully laid. This was his chance to show us all how he'd make his mark. How he'd be different from Tony Blair.But what happened instead? Terrorists and floods. The carefully calculated impact of his first set of Prime Ministerial announcements was buried under pictures of a burning jeep in Glasgow and soaking carpets in Hull. As it happens, his plans weren't half bad. They were rather sensible suggestions to make Parliament better at checking what the Government's up to. They've had a fair spread of cross-party agreement and support. But the weather and Osama Bin Laden didn't agree, and they wrenched the agenda away from him anyway.And that's why it's different being Prime Minister. You're always at the mercy of what Harold Macmillan memorably described as 'events, dear boy, events'. In almost any other job there are boundaries. At the Treasury you're responsible for money and finance. At Health it's the NHS. But if you're Prime Minister there's nowhere to hide. You can be asked about anything.The pace of the job is different too. At the Treasury, Gordon will have had months to ponder each carefully-considered strategic move. But anything to do with emergencies, whether its escaped prisoners, strikes, fires or floods, is different. You've got less time, and less information to underpin a decision. More of it is gut instinct. Get it right, like Tony Blair when Diana died, and you're a hero. Get it wrong, like Eden in Suez, and you're in trouble. Gordon Brown has had years to prepare. We're about to find out if he's ready.