LETTER from THE EDITOR

Share
Never underestimate a Presbyterian reformer. Gordon Brown has already made the setting of interest-rate policy more open than in any other Western country, and, as we reported yesterday, he's hostile to the traditional Budget culture. He wants a more open and less frantic Budget process - less of a secretive huddle of special interest groups trying to cut up the national cake, and more of a national discussion about investment and macro-economics; in other words, how to get a bigger slice of the global cake.

Some will dismiss this as the typical posturing of a newcomer. Treasury friends tell me it's all nonsense, and that Budget culture will overtake Broon, not the other way about. I doubt it. It may not be the case that clothes maketh the man, but they revealeth him - witness, in this case, Brown's famously dour collection of blue suits, and his curt refusal to wear silly clothing at City speeches. He is his own man, a son of the manse, not the Mansion House.

In this, he's very like the late John Smith. I interviewed Smith while he was contesting the Labour leadership, and he gave me a table-hammering exposition of the case for radical reform of the Lords. Taken aback, I expressed some surprise at his passion on the subject. Smith coloured. He didn't generally talk about these things, he said, but I would understand. I was a fellow Scot. It was all those ... those Anglican bishops and Lord Chancellors and so on. I looked blank. Well, he said, they were just sitting around, in wigs and stockings ... "You know, Andrew," Smith finally blurted, "it's all those men dressing up in women's clothing. We're just not having that sort of thing." A true reformer's voice.

As I say, my advice to the Treasury is: don't underestimate the Church of Scotland.

Good advice, too, for Tony Blair. I picked it up at a party in the middle of the week from Norman Tebbit, who believes Blair should think very carefully before threatening his rebel MPs with removal of the whip. "Never corner a rat," is how Lord T put it, before pausing and adding thoughtfully, "unless, of course, you've got a ruddy great stick in your hand and you're going to bash its head in."

I have been in Ireland (getting away from the rain, you see) talking politics. This column being a place where an editor can indulge in private self-doubt, here are a few thoughts on voting reform, which I and this newspaper (un-coincidentally) support. The shift of power on Thursday from Bruton to Ahern was in some respects exemplary - better-humoured and more relaxed than changes of government here. But part of the reason is clearly the time it takes - the horse-trading and haggling.

Here is a shortened list of what three independent TDs demanded of Bertie Ahern in a dozen private meetings as a price for their votes: new industry to replace the closed Pretty Polly factory in Killarney; the upgrading of piers in South Kerry, and the N81 road, too; a new secondary school for Kilcoole; and a new district veterinary office in County Wicklow. Well, you may say, how else are the good people of Kerry to impress their views on national government - and aren't there some backwaters in the British Isles which would benefit from pork-barrel politics here? But it's a rum way of doing business. I feel it fair to share doubts about reform, you see, as well as my certainties.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Around 150 dogs have been rescued  

Charity isn't a thing of the past — we should be proud about how much we give

Alice Jones
 

Scottish referendum's swings and turnabouts: two years on the long road to poll position

John Curtice
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week