Indian peers ask Gordon Brown to put his foot down

May 25th, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, May 25 (IANS) Two distinguished Indian-born peers belonging to the ruling Labour Party Sunday urged beleaguered British Premier Gordon Brown to stamp his authority with a “put up or shut up” message to disgruntled party members. The separate warnings from steel tycoon Lord Swraj Paul and economist Lord Meghnad Desai are significant as they represent two factions in the Labour Party.

While Lord Paul, chairman of the Caparo Group of industries, is a strong supporter and funder of Brown, London School of Economics professor Lord Desai has been considered a supporter of Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair.

Brown has been under increasing pressure to step down and make way for a Labour leadership contest after the party suffered humiliating losses in recent by-elections in Labour strongholds.

In a statement to the Sunday Telegraph, a newspaper that is sympathetic to the opposition Conservative Party, Lord Paul said the prime minister is “too gentle” and should “make his stamp”.

“There is no doubt that it’s very unfortunate. It should give the prime minister the determination to make sure that he gets on with the job,” he says. “He has a very clear agenda, now he needs to get it going fast.

“These kinds of things give you a message - we have got to get on with the job. I think he’s the best man for the job but he needs to get on with it.”

Comparing the business of governance with that of running a company, Paul said: “I have run businesses in my life, and when a new CEO comes in doesn’t he start from day number one?

“In my view, whenever there is a change of leadership the new leader has to make his stamp. Now, the gentleman leader takes a bit longer. The tough one will start from day one. Gordon has to exert his authority further.

“When a new person comes in he has to establish himself. Gordon doesn’t like to put his authority on people too quickly and this is a signal for him that he has to put his foot down, be a bit firmer.

“I think he’s too gentle. If a new CEO takes over he needs to really put his foot down from the first day. You have to create confidence in the people. I feel he should have really been much tougher from the beginning.”

Paul, a member of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said the British economy “is in difficult shape”, but that Brown is the “right man to look after it”.

Lord Desai urged Brown to issue a “put up or shut up” ultimatum to his critics, and predicted no one would launch a challenge.

“Either we require a changed, improved Gordon Brown to lead us, and we still hope for that, or somebody has to say, ‘Please for the sake of the party that you love, move over’, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he told the BBC.

“He should say to the party: ‘Put up or shut up. I am your leader, if anybody wants to challenge me, here I am, try it.’ Nobody’s going to do it and that will establish his authority,” Lord Desai added.

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