Gordon Brown and the role of compounded crisis in the pathology of leadership decline

Michael Foley

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16 Citations (SciVal)


Gordon Brown's premiership has become indelibly associated with a crisis of manifold complexity. The aggregate effects of what has been, in effect, a proliferation of crises, has been to revive the more formalistic and traditional categories of leadership decline in terms of a return to cabinet government and constitutional balances. The purpose of this article is not to deny the diagnostic and explanatory utility of these categories, but to question the extent to which they can amount to a comprehensive and exclusive register of the politically degenerative properties surrounding a leadership under severe pressure. The analysis examines the different types of crisis that Brown has had to confront, and gives close attention to the way these crises have impacted upon his own personal crisis of adaptation to the demands of contemporary leadership politics. Brown's conspicuous problems with the style and repertoire of his leadership fomented an altogether richer form of pathology than that which could be attributed solely to the effects of contemporary economic, international and social issues. By the same token, the dynamics of his decline revealed a different dimension to the more conventional sources of understanding surrounding the erosion of leadership authority in the British system of government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-513
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Politics
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Gordon Brown
  • leadership decline
  • crisis politics
  • prime minister
  • presidentialism
  • Tony Blair


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