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17 May 2011

Gordon Brown rallies support for his IMF bid

Cameron is powerless to veto his old rival’s appointment.

By George Eaton

Gordon Brown had started to campaign to become the next head of the IMF even before Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s career imploded on Sunday. His article in the current edition of Newsweek (written before DSK’s downfall), is a transparent job application:

The IMF showed a few months ago that if the world worked together, up to 50 million new jobs could be created – millions of them in Europe and America – and 100 million people could be taken out of poverty. This November, at the next G20 summit, under the leadership of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama, we have the chance to take control of the huge and historic changes confronting us. It is not our fate to be at the mercy of financial chaos, decline and recession: there is an alternative. Securing it will not be easy, but, as I have said before, it is in the space between the possible and the perfect that campaigners for justice must always be.

Today’s Financial Times reports that Brown has told friends that he still has a chance of winning the top job and that “he’s not taking no for an answer”. So, is Brown worth a flutter?

As a European, he is eligible for the post (by tradition, the head of the World Bank is an American, while the head of the IMF is a European), and although David Cameron is free to state his opposition to Brown’s appointment, he is powerless to veto it. In addition, the former PM can point to the fact that he sat on the IMF policy committe for ten years and that his rescue of the UK economy was imitated across the world.

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But, as things stands, he’s unlikely to get the nod. Should the IMF appoint another European, it is most likely to opt for Christine Lagarde, the politically astute French finance minister, who would be the first woman to hold the post.

Alternatively, as France has held the top job for 26 of the past 33 years, the job could go to Germany’s Axel Weber, who resigned as president of the Bundesbank in February and has the backing of Angela Merkel. Then there is possibility that the IMF will break with history and appoint a non-European. On either count, Brown is not the man to beat.

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