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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Should Brown be next Labour leader?
Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown
Do you think Gordon Brown would make a good Labour leader?

Gordon Brown has used his keynote speech at Brighton to emphasise his commitment to the party's constitution pledge of "putting power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many, not just the few".

Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to succeed Tony Blair before the next general election but some activists have called for the prime minister to hand over the leadership sooner rather than later.

Should Gordon Brown be the next Labour leader? Should he follow Tony Blair's "new Labour" policies? What do you think of his speech?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The choice of the future leader of one of the oldest democracies in the world should not be left to two career politicians
John Bell, London
Is there anyone else out there who feels strongly that the choice of the future leader of one of the oldest democracies in the world should not be left to two career politicians? I hear Brown talking about increased prosperity and a fairer share for all. I, for one, would like to know where Brown fits into the whole debate about the environment, global warming, over population, over use of fossil fuels. I can't begin to imagine what sort of future he imagines for his child if he thinks just in terms of more of the same and carry on as usual.
John Bell, London

We need a real socialist alternative to Blair and Brown, or the party will never rediscover its roots as the party of the people. Keir Hardie must be turning in his grave at the slow desecration of his dream. Or maybe it DID die with John Smith.
Chris Page, Letchworth, UK

I can't believe all these predictions of economic doom just round the corner. Sure things aren't going that well but it's not a disaster and with the Bank of England in charge (not Gordon) I doubt there's a recession round the corner. Independence for the BofE was a good move. Everything else G. Brown has done was awful.
Adam, London

Brown will almost undoubtedly succeed Blair
Barnaby Walker, Exeter, Devon
When will people realise that Blair and Brown are not opponents, but essentially similar political animals? One of the great PR tricks of the New Labour spin machine has been to present Brown as a decent, left-wing successor to Blair: he's not. Brown will almost undoubtedly succeed Blair, but I'm afraid that people who believe this will mark a return to decent socialist policies are mistaken. Expect more of the same pro business, pro-privatisation rubbish that is so damaging to the economically vulnerable.
Barnaby Walker, Exeter, Devon

There are better politicians out there who have a wider understanding of the political spectrum. I hope he gets a hard fight for the leadership. The man has always struck me as somebody who sulks if he doesn't get his own way.
Paul Robinson, Grimsby, England

Personally I don't think that Gordon brown is ready to be Prime Minister yet, he should be tested as say Foreign Secretary so we can see what he is like on the international scene. And another thing who says he is going to be Prime Minister anyway? Isn't there a small matter of an election?
E Stewart, London, England

There is no credible alternative to a Labour government
Chris McKenna, Bradford, UK
What is the alternative? The Conservatives still do not look like a threat to Labour domination, nor do the Lib Dems. Who's left? There is no credible alternative to a Labour government, and there is no credible replacement to Tony Blair other than Mr Brown.
Chris McKenna, Bradford, UK

We've done a poll in our office, in an investment bank full of economists and bankers. Who thinks Gordon Brown is good for our economy? 0. Who thinks Gordon Brown understands economics or his role in the Treasury? 0. Who knows his opinion on any other topic, say Iraq, health, defence, law and order, which he would be responsible for were he leader? 0. Who wants Gordon Brown as our Prime Minister? 0. Enough said.
Fiona, The City, UK

Brown and the unions are doing a very intricate dance. Love or loathe Tony Blair, he has been his own man and held the unions in an appropriate position - Brown's "economic miracle" would be nothing if the unions obtain their "partnership" role. But this is undoubtedly what he will do following the next election, in the hope that the Tories will continue to implode and the Liberals fail to make a breakthrough.
Peter, London

How can he talk of a 'share owning democracy' when he hit the pensions funds with a windfall tax? Shares will never recover with Brown in charge.
Paul Johnson, Sheffield

If the prime minister elects the chancellor to lead the party, then there is substance and we would follow
EW
Yes, I think the Chancellor possesses the right mix of attributes for the continuity of the high quality leadership put in place by the Prime Minister Tony Blair. In addition, The "New Labour" Party policies are good components that enhance the Labour Government's approaches and achievements to economic and social democracy. These policies anticipate change and so they are formulated in preparedness to meet the challenges that change in operational environment brings with it. For instance - changes in Global markets. I think the labour government takes credit in the way it operates as it aims to provide ground for a progressive competitive nation. Also, because, if the prime minister elects the chancellor to lead the party, then there is substance and we would follow.
EW

Just what we need, another Labour conference that focuses on two people - Blair and Brown. When will they start talking about the issues, not just nationally but internationally? Why they call it a conference, I don't know. Why don't they just pair up with Ant and Dec and go for a Saturday double bill.
Neil Hemming, Chichester, England

People talk about Charles Kennedy being unelectable at the moment, but in my view, Gordon Brown is even worse. No personality, no ability to 'take people with him' on his ideas, and I highly doubt has an original idea in his head.
Stephen, Kent

We desperately need a new Thatcher to cut the public sector down to size
Ian Brown, Derby, UK
Gordon Brown will be an absolute disaster for the country. He has already squandered the Thatcher legacy which produced the period of prosperity for which he has been taking the credit. In truth he has created the impression of a prosperous Britain by fostering a prolonged consumer boom coupled with high employment in the unproductive public sector. In the process he has been steadily eroding Britain's competitiveness. We desperately need a new Thatcher to cut the public sector down to size and subject the survivors to the same pension realities as the real workers.
Ian Brown, Derby, UK

I think Brown will not make a very good leader mainly because he is New Labour and therefore by definition a Thatcher with better dress sense and nicer teeth. I am surprised at some of the view expressed (positive and negative) that he is a closet socialist - he isn't! As a public sector worker I am also somewhat incensed by Ian Brown's comments re public sector workers. We are productive and maybe the point is that 'real workers' pensions should be brought into line with ours. After all that way, fellow hard workers may end up with a decent pension - something that Mr Ian Brown has no doubt already got sewn up for himself.
Paul, London

Ian Brown of Derby is spot on, we will be paying for Gordon Brown's consumer boom for many years to come regardless of who is the next Labour leader or the next Chancellor. With respect to who should be the next Prime Minister, this should be decided by a General Election, not by political horse trading within the Labour Party.
Ian, Baildon UK

Yes he should step up to challenge. The UK economy is set for a very rough ride in the coming few years. It will be interesting to see him explain away the failing economy.
Cliff Gurdin, Leeds

He should step up as the party leader for the next general election not before. The people voted for Blair last time not Brown!
Paul, Reading

I can't think of a better person at this point in time to lead the Labour Party after Tony Blair, and I feel he would be a good future PM.
Mike Royston, Southend on Sea, Essex

I don't blame Gordon Brown for seeking to play down his socialist credentials a bit - he needs to do so in order to (a) win the leadership and (b) win the election. But once he has done that, I would not be surprised to see a more authentic "Real Labour" agenda emerge.
Paul Linford, Belper, Derbyshire

He has not proved himself, being tucked away in the Treasury
Patricia, Henley, UK
No. He has not proved himself, being tucked away in the Treasury, ruining our economy and failing to speak out on any matter whatsoever. The man has no interests other than his own promotion. I loathe the Labour Party, but if he becomes leader he'll be my Prime Minister and that directly affects me. He's a dangerous illogical socialist in a suit who thinks he's more intelligent than everyone else, but he just isn't.
Patricia, Henley, UK

Brown's very words that he wants asset-owning, share-owning etc "for all" says it all. If everyone has it regardless of their abilities it has been forced by a policy of equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity which only produces equality at the lowest level. If everyone has it - however useless - it will be worth nothing.
David Johnson, Belfast, UK

It will be interesting to see if Gordon Brown continues to develop this government's army of ministers. Take education - there used to be a Minister of Education and that was that. Now we've got a Secretary of State for Education, then a Schools Minister; a Higher Education Minister, etc - how long before we have a Minister for Handing Out Geography textbooks (target: 5% faster by 2007) and a Minister for Skipping In The Playground (target: 10% more children - sorry, kids - participating by 2008)...
David, London, UK

While I consider Mr Brown to be an excellent politician and a good, compassionate person, I really cannot tolerate the "king making" approach to a party leadership. Surely in this day and age a party leader should be elected by its membership - after all, this is supposed to be a democracy
Pauline Fothergill, Halifax, United Kingdom

Of course Brown will be the next leader. No one else has a chance since his record is the "least worst". Would he make a good leader? Well that depends on your definition of good. Better than Blair? For the sake of my sanity I hope so. Whatever happens I hope Labour remain in power for one more term so another party isn't burdened with Brown and co's mistakes
Richard, Bath, UK

A brilliant Chancellor, but without the skills for the top job
Jim, Harrow, Middlesex
A brilliant Chancellor, but without the skills for the top job. My young adult children don't rate him at all. He will disappoint both labour left-wingers and the majority of the country.
Jim, Harrow, Middlesex

Part of the job description for the Labour leader is to win elections, a task at which Tony Blair has excelled, because he is a great performer and hence eminently electable. Whatever Gordon Brown's strengths, electability isn't one of them. He lacks personality, never mind charisma, and presence, never mind projection. Margaret Thatcher, whether you loved or loathed her, had this election-winning ability. Blair has it: Brown doesn't. So the choice for the Labour party is: do you choose a leader to get elected or one who will fall at the next electoral fence?
Colin, Cirencester England

I cannot think of anyone I would rather see there. With the economy starting to unravel and a large spending deficit looming plus his forecasted growth being way in excess of true growth Blair is timing his step down to perfection! The perfect justice is that Brown is likely to take the reins just as the effects of his spending spree start to bite. I wonder how long he will last?
John Fitzgerald, Boston, Lincolnshire

Democracy at its best. The Labour party get elected on the lowest proportion of those who could be bothered to vote. Then they replace the leader who people voted for with somebody they didn't.
Tony, UK

He definitely should be leader, or should I say "take the can". He should reap what he has sown.
S, Kent

Gordon Brown may be a good chancellor and indeed a good politician but to be leader is something else. He has no charisma and no obvious good communication skills. I doubt he would enhance Britain's foreign relations. If I were a Tory, I'd be rubbing my hands with glee.
Niall, Guildford

A chancellor whose only policy was to tax heavily and spend heavily, despite his promises not to in 1997. As Prime Minister, he will have to preside over his legacy of profligate spending on an unproductive and unreformed public sector, one million manufacturing jobs lost, record consumer debt and a contracting private sector. Our low inflation is imported from China and growth funded by consumers. To revive the private sector he won't be deregulating and streamlining as that would be an admission in the failure of Blair and Brown's policies. I hope he enjoys every day of his tenure as PM because it won't be for long.
Mike, London, UK

A socialist career politician, Gordon Browns success is simply that as a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not mess up the economy. But credit where it is due. This is a low inflationary, low interest rate world that even Flash Gordon could not mess up. Or could he? Remember pensions after his windfall tax? Remember IR35 and IT skills shortages? Remember family tax credit and the billions overpaid to people the vast majority of who are already excellent at scrounging? Gordon Brown for Prime Minister? The last person to leave please turn-off the lights!
Richard B, Chelmsford, Essex

The political leadership of this country should be decided through a through vote
David, London, UK
The next Labour leader should be chosen through a democratic vote of the party membership. Should Gordon Brown win, then all well and good. The political leadership of this country should be decided through a through vote, not coronation.
David, London, UK

Of course it's got to be Gordon Brown! There's simply no-one to touch him in the Labour movement for an overall grasp of exactly what a Labour government should be doing. His turn at the Treasury has been the most successful for decades: all post-war governments have sought sustainable long term growth with low inflation, and none were able to deliver it until 1997. That stability helps generate the wealth to improve public services.
David Boothroyd, London, UK

When you consider the size of the public service workforce that this government has allowed to develop, the false claims of "a safe pair of hands" is laid bare. We have an economy where school leavers finance their own unemployment by being encouraged to go to university and we have a state where the average house price is seven times the average salary. It is totally untenable so Gordon Brown should become Labour leader so that he can explain his folly.
Bob, Glasgow

Yes. His priorities should be to make state pensions contributory like the rest of us. Reduce the cost of government beginning with Prescott's mad plan to knock down houses worth 100k to rebuild them at a cost of 150k.
Rob, London, UK

Who knows? He has held the chancellor post for all of the time Labour has been in power. This role is pretty secretive and is well protected. I think we would need to see how he would deal with a more exposed and high profile job before passing judgement on how well he would govern the country.
Christian Matthews, Liverpool, UK

Yes. He's all they've got. However, I do not envy his successor as chancellor who will have to carry the can for his spending binge.
Rob, London, UK

I hope he tosses out the presidential style of "right thing to do, by me" and allows his ministers to do their own work. I at least hope this current group of ministers are binned, they are useless. I also hope he brings in a leaner civil service, but somehow that doesn't seem to be his style.
Salik Rafiq, Blackburn

He's the obvious choice, as there doesn't seem to be anyone else of sufficient calibre. However, his claim to be a 'firm Blairite' rings hollow - I forecast that within a year (and with union backing), he will swing New Labour back to their old ways and it will be bye-bye Labour. And not before time.
Andy, Manchester, England

Of course he should! He's been the most popular politician in the Labour Party for 20 years (apart from the late John Smith). Whether he wins a General Election is another question - I hope he does.
Greg Orford, London

Best of a bad bunch, I suppose.
Craig, Sheffield

I don't think he's personally popular enough to lead Labour to a fourth victory
John, Leeds, UK
I really can't see anyone else getting a look-in. If the sceptics are right and the economy really is going to start crumbling soon, then Blair will probably hand over the reins soon and let Brown clean up his own mess. That said, Gordon Brown's just lucky that he will be able to become PM without having to win an election - something I think he'd find extremely difficult. I don't think he's personally popular enough to lead Labour to a fourth victory.
John, Leeds, UK

I would like to see a labour leadership battle for a change
Paul Doherty, Sileby, Nr Loughborough

It is going to hurt when the crunch happens. Personally I cannot wait for it - Labour supports will be hit the hardest and it is their fault. Only our good Tory friends will get us out of the mess these people have created.
Scott Mills, London

If his record as Chancellor is anything to go by, he'd make a great PM. Gordon stands head and shoulders over anyone else in the Labour Party, the other parties have nobody who comes close, and they know it.
Andy, Basingstoke

This just underlines what we all know, that New Labour was in fact, and will continue to be, the New Conservatives.
Steve, London, UK

Who is Gordon Brown? I can't remember ever hearing or seeing him. (Is it that bloke who was organising something in Africa a while back?) Whoever he is: is someone we never see the right person to be the next prime minister?
John, UK

Brown may be scripted to be the next leader, but I rather doubt he'll have much luck holding onto the job. All the ex-Blairites will hate him, and the rebels will seize the opportunity for revolt; I predict the reign of Brown will be short, stormy and a prelude to a Tory government.
Dr Dan Holdsworth, Manchester, UK

A man of considerable intelligence and compassion
Martin, London
Yes. A man of considerable intelligence and compassion. Rare qualities in people generally, let alone politicians.
Martin, London

A socialist, career politician who has served alongside Tony Blair long enough to actually believe his own hype. Gordon Brown's radical ideologies in a fourth term for the Crazy Gang will be one of the biggest threats this country has faced since the last world war!
Rupert Jenner, London, UK

It is a shame that both major parties have such an uninspiring field of candidates. I don't believe Brown would make a good Prime Minister, he is the best option when you think of the laughable (and potentially very worrying) alternatives: Blunkett, Clarke or Reid in No 10 would be disastrous. Brown will likely become leader anyway, and of the Tories have any sense they'll elect Clarke, and Clarke will probably beat Brown to No 10 in a few years.
Al, Essex, UK

He's an old-style socialist dressed in New Labour clothes
Rob, Thatcham, UK
No! He's an old-style socialist dressed in New Labour clothes - even though I am no fan of Tony Blair, I hope he hangs on as long as possible!
Rob, Thatcham, UK

Blair has his eyes set on head of the UN or similar, so he will go when that move is best served.
Lee, Winchester

Sure, why not but preferably with Labour in opposition.
Graham, Oldham

Seems like it's been all scripted. I'm sure Blair and Brown have had it worked out in detail for some time. The rest of Labour's leadership are backing it to save their jobs in a Brown government. When the change in leadership does happen it will be sudden and quick.
Martin Parkes, Hemel Hempstead

He would be a terrible PM. He's the man that has created a lop-sided illusory economy based in little more than cheap-import fudged inflation statistics, loose lending-fuelled house price mania and mind-boggling consumer debt - an economy failing fast. He's second only to Tony Blair in believing his own fantasies.
David, London, UK

He sounds too Blairite to be a good Labour leader. He needs to pursue a devoutly socialist agenda. Increased democracy, increased workers' rights. But not state-owned industry, people-owned industry.
Jack White, Glasgow, Scotland

An arrogant man who has made a mess of our long term financial stability. His only success has been fooling so many into believing in him. The cracks are beginning to show. The answer to the question? Yes! He's just what the opposition needs!
Ed, Manchester

Yes. Then when the wise people of this great nation re-elect Labour he will have to take responsibility for the economic depression we will be in.
Pete, Essex





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