I have a lot of respect for those journalists and politicians who read Andrew Rawnsley's book sub-titled The Rise and Fall of New Labour. Don't get me wrong, it's brilliant, but at 25 squids for the hardback and 679 pages you need a couple of free days to read it properly. It's taken me two months.
I know that to some extent it's old news now but I found it fascinating in its assessment of the contrast, and sheer, bitter enmity between Blair and Brown. Even if it's only 50% right it is a damning indictment.
There is a lesson in the necessary humility of leadership for all of us there. Can you climb to the top of the political tree without treading on any fingers? That way lies taking up a cross, methinks.
Rawnsley also makes it clear that the New Labour project was not a catastrophic failure as some might say. They achieved much, no-one saw the bank crisis coming, they probably over-spent, with the benefit of hindsight, and the expenses scandal would have damned whoever was in power. Cameron was politically astute not to be trimmed with his wisteria whereas Brown was taken to the cleaners.
This quote floats out of the final pages:
The attempt to fashion a big tent which would appeal to voters and interests with opposed aspirations always threatened to end in disappointment among both the traditionalists and the modernisers.
I hope the current lot are paying attention.