Confessions of a PM - set for Fringe debut

Iain Grieve portrays Gordon Brown
Iain Grieve portrays Gordon Brown

HE is a revered figure in Kirkcaldy, but a new play argues that he was also “our greatest failure at being Prime Minister in 200 years.”

‘The Confessions of Gordon Brown’ is unlikely to be required viewing in the household of its subject.

But its author insists he has attempted to pen a sympathetic portrait of someone who he regards as a “great man, a very capable man and a very moral man”, but a man who could not rise to the challenge of holding the highest office in the land - a position which he had long craved.

Kevin Toolis is an Edinburgh-born journalist who worked for a string of national titles at Westminster and is also a published author.

He said:“Brown’s failure was a failure of leadership.

“There will never be a shortage of people who believe they have the right to rule others.

“But possessing the right attributes to be a leader is a rare combination both of arbitrary physical traits and extraordinary psychological skills

“Despite his vast economic expertise, he (Mr Brown) could not persuade the British people that their future was brighter under his command.”

Mr Toolis interviewed political colleagues of Mr Brown and spin doctors who worked with him during his research for the play.

The latter, he believes, are one of the key drivers in presenting our politicians as what he describes as “digital media creations.”

But he added: “Somewhere beneath these screens of power is a man, or woman, who has doubts and fears like the rest of us, but none of these weaknesses are ever shown to the people.

“Image is not everything but it counts for a lot.

“In office, Brown struggled with himself and the pace of decision-making required of the office of British Prime Minister.

“The workload crushed him but he was unable to delegate.

“Ultimately, his character, his fateful indecisiveness, corroded his powers as leader and he was beset by endless rebellions and reversals.”

Mr Toolis contends that the question of who wields power is particularly important in Scotland, where another dominant politician - Alex Salmond - is leading the drive toward independence.

“Who we choose as leader remains a crucial question for all of us,” he said.

Mr Brown is played by Ian Grieve, a well-respected stage actor and director and the play will have preview performances in London next week.

The world premiere will be staged at the Edinburgh Festival at the end of August, before a run in the perhaps less than welcoming surrounding of the Labour Party conference in Brighton one month later.