On the Record

New Prime Minister Brown Pledges Change for Britain

Philip H. Gordon

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RAY SUAREZ: For more on the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, we turn to: Ed Pilkington, New York bureau chief for the British newspaper the Guardian; and Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former director for European affairs on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

Ed Pilkington, as chancellor of the exchequer for a whole decade, what kind of leader was Gordon Brown? And does it give us any insight into what kind of prime minister he’ll be?

ED PILKINGTON, The Guardian: I think he’s widely regarded, in fact, almost universally regarded to have been an extremely successful chancellor. He kept a very tight rein on the budget. He was also very tough on his colleagues in the amount of money that he handed out to different departments.

And he was probably seminal in preventing Britain entering the euro, the common currency across Europe, which, in turn, has led to a very buoyant economy in the U.K. So altogether, he was tough, he was tight with the purse strings, and he was determined. And I think that’s going to be the theme that continues through his prime ministership.

RAY SUAREZ: Phil Gordon, it’s a job roughly analogous to secretary of the treasury, but is it good training for the top job?

PHILIP GORDON, Brookings Institution: Well, it is, because you need a solid economy to do everything else you want to do, whether you’re Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. You want to improve the National Health Service, and transportation, and education, and you can only do that with economic growth. And certainly 10 years running a very successful economy is a pretty good basis for moving forward to the things he wants to do now.

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