September, 29th 2009


– Liz Mair

I recently called this one of the most brutal (early) takedowns I've ever seen.

But this is brutal, too. As some of you will be aware, today, Gordon Brown spoke to the Labour Party faithful in Brighton, and did an appallingly bad job by just about every account going-- of which this, written by my friend Alex Massie, is probably the most scathing I've read yet today.  Hard to excerpt, because the whole thing is so bloody good:

Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour party conference this afternoon was, in its way, breathtaking. Breathtakingly shameless, mendacious, confused, contradictory, delusional, dishonest and irresponsible that is. It was also the speech of a Prime Minister resigned to defeat.


The Prime Minister takes the electorate for fools. But voters appreciate the appalling fiscal position the next government is going to inherit. They know that urgent action is required. But Brown pretended - as politicians are wont to do - that he could promise cakes for all and that everyone would still lose weight. Despite dozens of spending commitments - rhetorical commitments anyway - the deficit will be halvd in four years. The only thing missing was the promise of a free pony to every seven year old girl in Britain.


And, like all desperate politicians, he tried to wrap himself in the flag: Labour is the only properly patriotic party. Shameless and, in this instance, a leaf pilfered from the GOP playbook.

Indeed, this was a speech that might be best seen as a left-wing version of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Like Romney, Brown flip-flopped on a dozen policies he'd previously favoured leaving him in the curious position of, in effect, running against his own past. This, it must be said, is a tactic that rarely convinces.

There was, of course, the usual headline-grabbing nonsense: workhouses for single mothers and a National Family intervention Agency that, given how our bureacracy works, is a guaranteed disaster. But imagine the outcry if a Tory politician called for "Gulags for Slags" or "Wormwood Scrubs for Scrubbers"? Family breakdown is a real issue, but this was a gimmick designed for the sake of gimmickry, not any serious attempt to address a problem. Because addressing it would require a total rethink of tax and welfare policy and, consequently, demand another U-turn.

In other words, this was not in fact a serious speech by a serious politician in serious times. Quite the opposite in fact. It was yet another missed opportunity by a failed Prime Minister whose time is up. We know it and he must know it too. Given the chance to be straight with the electorate, Brown chose to be crooked and, worse still, absurd.

I didn't really think that Brown could fail to meet my exceedingly low expectations but, by god, he did.

Good grief, Gordo! [intro]


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