The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Did Brown Do Enough?

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 30, 2009 @ 06:32

The man even told a few good jokes. Well, good in a political context...

The man even told a few good jokes. Well, good in a political context...

The switch in the Sun’s support to the Tories has got to be one of the most underwhelming and entirely predictable stories of the year. They have spent years now bashing the Labour Party, and all we’re seeing is a cynical, and successful, operation to divert attention from Brown.

Why would they do that? Well… there was the small matter of his speech yesterday: a thunderous hour-long affair which went down well with the conference. Then again, the previous day they had lapped up one of Mandelson’s most entertaining speeches, filled with political handbagging and extremely camp gestures. Nobody does it better!

So the fact that they liked Brown’s speech was no surprise. And, to be fair, it was a decent speech. It certainly did the job of rallying the troops, putting a little fire in their belly. That’s what Labour needed if it’s going to survive this next seven months in the run up to the election. Seven months which are bound to be the most difficult they’ve ever faced, if the polls are to be believed.

The most striking aspect of it to me, though, was the fact that Brown seems to have thrown all caution to the wind. The list of pledges was long: a new National Care Service, more free childcare, a fund for industry, more spending on benefits and international aid… as well as moves on electoral reform, the House of Lords, ID cards and the right of recall for MPs.

There was one thing missing from his speech though. A price tag. There was some vague promise about how it would all be costed, but I can’t possibly see how some of these things, particularly the pledges of personal care for those who need it most, can be met without very large sums of money.

And so, it seems, Brown has decided to gamble the election on one very last spin of the roulette wheel. There was a little talk of cuts and savings, but it’s clear Brown is going to Carry On Borrowing. The plan appears to be to offer a vision of a future, a vision that was indeed rosy and utopian, and hope enough people buy into the idea, rather than get swallowed up by the sometimes depressing rhetoric of both the Tories and the Lib Dems about the dark days of frugality ahead.

So the speech scored very highly for boldness and policy. There was a small amount of grandstanding about past success: but I think Labour have finally learned that elections are not just about the government’s record. They are essentially about the future, and Brown did a decent job of articulating his new agenda in that way he does best: a canny oratorical mix of assertion, delusion and haste.

Overall, I would say he has just about done enough. Brown will be the man fighting the next election for Labour, and Labour will go down to defeat.

But, perhaps, after this week, it won’t be quite so historic…

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