British Politics

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 121–145 | Cite as

Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, and the Great Financial Crisis: Leadership traits and policy responses

  • Stephen Benedict DysonEmail author
Original Article


Gordon Brown’s management of the Great Financial Crisis was one of the few successes of his premiership and was seen as a distinctly personal triumph. Yet, in the aftermath of the crisis, Brown’s leadership led to a damaging split on economic policy with his Chancellor, Alistair Darling. To explain the role of Brown and Darling in the crisis and its aftermath, this article uses quantitative content analysis of speech to develop leadership trait profiles of both men. Both leaders score high in proactive beliefs; Brown especially had great faith in his ability to shape economic matters. Brown scores consistently higher than Darling in the use of power imagery, whilst the Chancellor maintained a significantly more complex worldview than the Prime Minister. Although many factors contributed to the turmoil and ultimate demise of the Brown government, the personality of the Prime Minister, and the clash of policy beliefs and decision-making style with his Chancellor, played a key role. This indicates that explanations of economic crises should include analysis of the policy preferences and decision-making styles of the leaders who manage them. Further, studies of the leadership styles of political leaders, which usually focus solely on the predominant leader, should instead examine interactions and conflicts amongst the several personalities at the top of a government.


Great Financial Crisis leadership styles Prime Minister Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown Alistair Darling 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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