UK Politics

Jack Straw: Gordon Brown knew he could not do PM job

Gordon Brown and Jack Straw
Image caption In his memoirs, Mr Straw says Tony Blair encouraged him to stand for the Labour leadership

Gordon Brown knew he was not up to the job of prime minister, former cabinet minister Jack Straw has claimed.

Mr Straw, who ran the former PM's leadership campaign, said Mr Brown came to realise it was "a job that he couldn't properly do".

He admitted he discussed challenging Mr Brown with colleagues, including David Miliband, Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman.

But he "backed off" because he thought it might make Labour's situation worse.

Speaking on BBC Radio 3's Night Waves, Mr Straw said during Mr Brown's time in Number 10 - and as the 2010 general election approached - senior people in the cabinet talked about whether to challenge Mr Brown "all the time".

'Afraid to strike'

He said: "The tragedy was that we realised, but so did Gordon, that this job - for which he'd become obsessed and devoted his life - was a job that he couldn't properly do.

"He just lacked the fundamental qualities to do it."

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Media captionJack Straw on Gordon Brown as PM: 'a job that he couldn't properly do'

Mr Straw, who is one of the few ministers to have remained a member of the cabinet throughout Labour's time in government, said: "Of course I thought about whether I should stand at various moments.

"So did others. David Miliband, Alan Johnson, I talked to them. I talked to Harriet Harman.

"If you say we were ready to wound but afraid to strike, that's true. We backed off because although the situation was desperate we were never certain we wouldn't make it worse."

'Dark arts'

Pressed about the qualities Mr Brown was lacking as prime minister, Jack Straw said: "He didn't understand that if you're prime minister, you're faced with decisions which come in the door and the window all the time and that wasn't the case when he was running the British economy - where he had four big sets of decisions to make a year.

"He didn't properly understand the importance of how you bring together a team.

"And amongst his own people he had some very, very talented thoroughly decent people but he also always employed some people who were skilled in the dark arts and that undermined trust in him and his trust in others."

In his newly published memoirs, Mr Straw says Tony Blair encouraged him to stand for the Labour leadership, which would have meant standing against Gordon Brown.

"I'm clear that I could have been prime minister and a reasonably effective prime minister," Mr Straw said. "I thought about it. I would have been able to run government, I think, pretty well."

"The question was, did I want it enough? Others wanted it much more."

He said he thought Mr Brown was going to win the leadership so saw no point in standing.

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