Saturday, May 12, 2007


Gordon has Time to Persuade us we Need Him

I have to confess to agreeing with Simon Hoggart regarding Blair's endorsement of Gordon Brown. The practised fluency for which he is so famed seemed totally absent on an occasion so vital for Gordon and each word of the less than lyrical encomium seemed to have been extracted with the ease of wisdom teeth. Blair really has made his long good bye seem like his finger-nails have had to be prised off the doors of Number 10.

Looking to the future Martin Kettle wonders if Brown is the kind of change the nation now needs and thinks it needs. The first thing about this that occurs to me is that the six weeks of the non contest (about as long as the recent endless cricket World Cup) we now face represent a rich opportunity for Gordon to use to his advantage. His left-wing opponent(s) are the merest off stage distraction; he can occupy centre stage as de facto PM to persuade us that we need him. If he succeeds he can step into Downing St with ease and confidence but if he fails we might have already got fed up with him by the end of June.

He has already begun to give some policy indications. On Iraq he has not plunged into any disavowals and wisely intends to move slowly, but I expect him to gradually place substantial distance between himself and his predecessor's political nemesis. On the real meat of his prime ministerial programme I would suggest he remains truest to his redistributive instincts. Kettle quotes:

'an excellent letter in the New Statesman(which) points out this week, Labour's tax and benefit changes since 1997 have raised incomes for the poorest 20% of British families by 12% and have cut them for the top 10% of families by about 5%. Though the very rich have pulled away, here as in other countries, Labour has done a lot of solid redistribution that it must find a more confident way of celebrating.'

Awareness of growing inequality in the UK is growing and focusing on Labour's raison d'etre might just be the means whereby he can start rebuilding the electoral coalition Cameron is right now so successfully dismantling.

Isn't a less than whole-hearted endorsement from Blair precisely what Brown wanted? Hasn't he been making sure for a long time now that no-one will call him Blair's poodle? Wasn't that spare autocue deliberately placed in the way of the camera by Brown's spin doctors in order to show that he doesn't go in for spin-doctoring?
Can just about accept that Gordon did not want to appear TOO flattered by Tony but don't really accept your theory re the autocue- I think that was good old genuine incompetence.
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