Gordon Brown delivers veiled swipe at Tony Blair

Gordon Brown issued a thinly veiled swipe at Tony Blair today as he hit out at politicians who fail to keep promises to step down from office after two terms.

The former prime minister grinned as he delivered the verdict during his first substantial Parliamentary appearance since quitting as Labour leader in May.



Mr Brown's fury at his predecessor's decision not to step down for him ahead of the 2005 general election has been documented in a number of high-profile Labour memoirs.



And today he appeared to seize an unexpected chance to make clear his own view during a two-hour evidence session to the international development select committee.



It came as Tory MP Pauline Latham challenged him over what action he had taken over African leaders who served more than the two terms they promised.



"People make it clear, as I have, to some of these leaders that if they say something and then are not in a position to deliver it then their authority is affected by that," he said.



"But I think it is very difficult for us to impose a rule on African countries that we do not apply ourselves," a smiling Mr Brown told the committee.



He did not refer directly to Mr Blair - citing instead the example of Michael Bloomberg who had proved an excellent mayor of New York despite serving beyond his self-imposed two-term limit.



But few observers were in any doubt to whom his comments were directed as he continued: "It is difficult for us to say, when sometimes in our countries people serve long terms, that there should be a limit on the terms. The real issue is keeping promises."



Mr Brown also hit back at criticism of his failure - apart from one short intervention in a late-night defence debate - to speak in the Commons chamber since losing power at the general election.



The ex-premier asked to give evidence to the committee - the same forum at which Mr Blair also first appeared after leaving Number 10 - rather than being invited.



Tory committee member Chris White questioned why he had delayed for so long and not chosen to speak out about international development in the House.



The former Labour leader hit out at the "unfortunate" diversion from the subject and insisted that "most former prime ministers have rarely spoken in the House at all".



He said he had decided to concentrate on his work as a constituency MP and international engagements but also took "a very big interest" in major political issues.



"I am here because I think I have a perspective on this that is of use to this committee. And I think it would be unfortunate if you were to suggest that there was only one way of making your views known in this House."















Mr Brown also expressed serious doubts about the coalition Government's prospect of meeting the United Nations goal of devoting 0.7% of GDP to overseas aid.

Spending plans show that figure being reached by the target date of 2013 but Mr Brown accused ministers of relying on a "one off" payment to the World Bank to get there.



He engaged in a hostile spat over the promise with Mrs Latham - which eventually required the intervention of committee chairman Malcolm Bruce.



It began when Mr Brown told the MPs: "As I understand it, the way to get to that target is a one-off payment to the World Bank and I don't think that will actually work.



"The most likely outcome, as I see it at the moment, is that we will not meet that target and there is an obligation on this committee ... to make sure this target is reached."



Mrs Latham reacted angrily to the former chancellor - insisting the Government was committed to reaching the target despite a difficult economic situation "which you are only too well aware of".



She pointed to rising payments to the World Bank under Labour and told Mr Brown he had no evidence to deny that sustained investment from the UK would continue beyond 2013.



"Let's see. I hope that's the case," he said - pointing out that less money was required to meet the target than if the UK economy was growing rapidly.



"It would have been nice if we had been left with that situation," she retorted.



In a two-hour plus session, Mr Brown also backed the idea of a global banking levy to help boost funding for Africa and avoid a "lost decade" in which the continent's potential was wasted.



He said private sector short-termism was to blame for a lack of investment in Africa and called on firms to show more imagination.



The former premier said he would soon publish a book, with other authors, on how the UN's Millennium Development Goals could still be met.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?