A missed opportunity for R&R
To a seminar tonight for the launch of Anthony Seldon's latest prime ministerial book "Brown At Ten".
His co-author Guy Lodge told us of Gordon Brown's "best-ever joke", on the flight to Belfast to announce a deal on the devolution of policing and justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Mindful of Tony Blair's much derided remark about "soundbites" and the "hand of history", Brown suggested saying instead: "I don't feel the hand of history on my shoulders, but I do feel Peter Robinson's hand in my pocket, and Gerry Adams' hand on my balls."
Lord Robert Skidelsky in the audience revealed that he'd advised Ed Balls in 2005 that Gordon Brown should not accept a move from Chancellor to the Foreign Office (as was widely suggested at the time), but instead go to the backbenches for while to think and recharge his batteries in preparation for assuming the leadership.
Ed Balls, says Lord Skidelsky, agreed with this advice. In the end of course, Brown stayed at the Treasury, and it would have been much harder from him to resign from there and become an ordinary MP again.
How Brown's premiership might have been so much more successful had he preceded it with a year or two of rest and reflection.