Brown 'lurches from disaster to disaster', said ambassador

A scathing assessment of Gordon Brown's "abysmal track record" by American officials based in London has been revealed in the latest leaks of US diplomatic cables.

The US embassy portrayed Mr Brown as lurching from "political disaster to disaster" and leading a "rudderless" party only a year after he succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 2007.

Diplomatic messages published on the WikiLeaks website also show that Barack Obama's allies were irritated by Mr Brown's intense manner. He interrupted a Thanksgiving call to the current ambassador Louis Susman to lobby for a global tax on financial transactions in the face of US opposition. "Prime Minister Brown continues to press hard ... despite being fully aware of US opposition to the tax," he wrote a year ago.

Although they highlighted his pivotal role in the global financial crisis, the Americans appeared to treat some of Mr Brown's initiatives, such as food summits, global disarmament and a UK national security council, with indifference. Mr Susman said Mr Brown was using the proposed transaction tax "for domestic political gain but also for reasons of 'social justice'.... The Prime Minister's position is largely being driven by domestic politics, as a way to be seen as 'punishing the banks'."

Robert Tuttle, who was George Bush's last ambassador to London, told Washington that Labour missed Mr Blair's "charisma" after his departure. "For a party that still contains a large element who feel more comfortable in opposition ... self-questioning contributes to a feeling of post-Blair rudderlessness. Even though Blair ended up unpopular, he was the sun around which the party orbited. Brown's earnest and praiseworthy vision excites no opposition and yet it seems to excite no great enthusiasm either."

A series of messages were sent when Mr Brown was plunged into his first leadership crisis by Labour's humiliating defeat by the Scottish National Party at the Glasgow East by-election in July 2008. The ambassador wrote: "As Gordon Brown lurches from political disaster to disaster, Westminster is abuzz with speculation about whether he will be replaced as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader, and, if so, by whom ... A terrible by-election defeat ... has left the Labour Party reeling and fuelled fears among MPs that Brown's leadership may now be beyond repair."

Mr Tuttle later added: "We don't see a clear tipping point on the horizon – but given Brown's abysmal track record over the last year, that day could come when Labour MPs return from vacations in August/September."

US diplomats reported back about the rules for replacing a Labour leader and Mr Brown's likely successors. They included David Miliband – but not his brother Ed, now the party leader. At one Labour conference, the "frisson of excitement whenever the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, appeared was palpable," officials said.

The embassy's view of Mr Brown improved in the autumn of 2008 when he led the way in recapitalising banks after Lehman Brothers collapsed. "After a year of plummeting poll numbers and questions about his ability to lead, Gordon Brown is suddenly riding high," Washington was told.

But, by the spring of 2009, US officials described Labour as a "sinking ship". One cable said: "We assess it unlikely that any Labour politician with his or her eye on the future would want to take on the sinking ship that is the current Labour Party at this time of crisis. It is more likely that Labour will go down in the next election – and then will begin the process of rebuilding."

A month later, the London embassy reported: "A wounded, but still standing, Gordon Brown remains at the helm of his party and is likely to do so until the voters speak in the next election ... The man who has nursed his dream – and grievance – of being Prime Minister since 1994 is not going to walk out of Downing Street now."

America's view of...

Alan Johnson "Pushes all the right personal buttons... but his lack of killer instinct makes him more suitable as a deputy rather than Prime Minister."

Ed Balls "His public speaking is derided as 'dull', his slightly awkward manner as 'charmless', and he has enemies in the party."

Shriti Vadera (fomer business minister) "Private secretary told us Vadera would regularly scream, 'Get me a cup of coffee' with a string of expletives."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Life and Style
love + sex
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
books
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Fay Weldon suggested authors should tailor their work for Kindle readers
books
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers