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In a crisis, power usually returns to the centre. But the leading figures of the coming post-Brown era are still talking about dispersing it

By Richard Reeves   March 2009

Never let a good crisis go to waste,” insists Rahm Emmanuel, the hardbitten chief of staff to Barack Obama. Certainly, economic disaster and political disequilibrium create the space for new thinking. They make and break reputations too.

Gordon Brown is trying to bring the British economy down gently. A little like the passengers of Flight 1549 approaching the waters of the Hudson, voters are anxiously wondering if the captain can land safely. In private, even senior government figures now admit that Britain’s economy may shrink by 4 per cent in 2009—a downturn twice as deep as official projections. Latest polls,…

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