Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gordon Brown: The Big Fightback (Postponed)

The Prime Minister has told the Scottish CBI that the current economic downturn is “the first, great financial crisis of the global age”, and that “Britain cannot insulate itself” from said crisis, being part of said joined-up globe. There is an upside, though, to do with ‘long-term resilience and underlying strengths’ in the British economy. I like the sound of that, as Brown surely hopes we all will, but while I was born at night it wasn't last night.
Brown also had a catchy line about freeing Britain from the ‘dictatorship of oil’, a cause that George Bush was espousing for the US a few years back too, having been frustrated in previous efforts to shore up said dictatorship. But Brown’s vision has a lot to do with our being energy-efficient in the home, and helping subsidise the electric car. These are tough sells in a downturn, so I wish him good luck on that one.
The PM also stuck up for the Union, since he was in Glasgow, but sadly he’s a Scot in an age when the loudest Scots voices in politics say otherwise. Good luck there, too.
All this, by the way, forms part of Brown’s ‘relaunch.’
Steve Richards of the Independent is sounding rather more in sorrow than anger about Brown, saying ‘These days it is the fashion to rubbish his tenure at the Treasury, but even his harshest critics must acknowledge the political skills that accompanied the policies.’ Wait, though: this is how Richards talks up the Brown legacy: ‘Over a lengthy period he managed to put up taxes, redistribute some cash, increase public spending, and remain popular.’ I’m a great admirer of Richards’ columns but I’m sure that come the morning after, he would want to think again about that crowded, confused sentence. All I hear is a summary of how Brown sold his most inept moves to Labour's most lemming-like voters. It's exactly how and when he made his moves on tax-hikes, redistribution and public sector handouts (so making himself the darling of so many voters who think themselves the Soul of Labour) that is the key; and the reason why he's been rubbished ever since.
Richards also laments the falling-off in Brown from his Treasury days of obsessive policy ground-laying; but you don’t get that luxury as PM, which is the job Brown thought he wanted and was made for. And again we must ask – just run that Treasury Legacy past us one more time?
Still, Brown can be reassured by the latest, newly incoherent and choleric attempt to murder him made by Charles Clarke in the New Statesman. I admire Clarke too, and liked him a lot as Home Secretary. But since he and fellow Blairites couldn’t find anyone to Stop Gordon in 2007 and so lined up behind Brown instead, all this ongoing acrimony is a waste of space.

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