Monday, February 16, 2009

Lemon Pie

Who got the best deal in The Deal? And how, if at all, did the characters' approaches reflect what we have been reading about so far?

My quiz question about the pie drew conflicting responses. Some of you said that by offering Brown free rein over economic and social policy, Blair was expanding the pie. One of you said it was Brown, not Blair, who was expanding the pie.

On the other hand, some of you pointed out that Blair walked away with the entire pie. He got everything he wanted and then some: not only the leadership but also Brown's public support. Blair took the pie and sold Brown a lemon.

On the subject of interests versus positions, you had some very thought-provoking answers. What were the real interests of Blair and Brown vis-à-vis their positions? Obviously both men wanted to become leader after John Smith died. Several of you pointed out that both men had the interests of the entire Labour Party at heart, but that Brown seemed to keep those interests closer to his heart than Blair did to his.

On that subject, one of the comments that stood out was this one, mainly because of the way it ties in with the theme of implementation: "Brown was advancing the Party's interests, and at the same time increasing his own chances of becoming the leader of the party in the future." Yes, under Blair the Labour Party won the 1997 election, the 2001 election, and the 2005 election. Then, two years into his third term, Blair stepped aside and Brown took over.

So stepping away from the film and into real life, let's remember that the deal outlined in the film seems to have held together. For all of Blair's alleged prevarications and back-tracking, Brown got what he wanted. He got it late, to be sure, and he had to fight hard for it. Moreover, before becoming PM he managed to hold on to his job as Chancellor for ten years, to make himself indispensable (as indispensable as anybody can be in politics) and to prevent any other potential successors from edging him out.

Brown wanted to be Prime Minister, and now he is. He just happens to be Prime Minister at a time when the UK is facing what one of his Cabinet colleagues calls "the worst recession in 100 years" and when the opposition Conservatives have pushed their opinion-poll lead over Labour to 16 points.


  1. "Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it."

  2. I think the post script makes Blair look even worse. Especially when you put it into context with the conversation in the movie where Brown tells him that a politician has a max life span as PM of 6 years (after that people get bored/restless). Had Blair went with their ideology Brown would not be stuck in this position right now.

  3. A lot has been made about the "deal" itself but there are no losers here--taking the #2 job for ten years and then becoming PM anyway is nothing to be dissapointed with. Brown wanted the big job and he got it eventually. I hope it's everything he wished for...