Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The 'Gordon Brown Party' Conference and the difference between saying and doing

The crucial thing about Gordon Brown’s conference speech was the massive difference between what he seemed to say and what has been achieved in the last 10 yrs, during which he’s been a crucial, central figure of the Labour Government. For example Gordon Brown spoke warmly of action on climate change but UK emissions of carbon dioxide are higher now than ten yrs ago, income inequality is high and rising, childhood wellbeing is in a poor state according to UN figures. He spoke warmly about supporting our armed forces but they often lack protective equipment and vehicles, and are housed in often sub-standard accommodation. He stressed a commitment to the NHS but tens of thousands still die prematurely due to un-tackled hospital-acquired infections like C-difficile.

In the end what counts is not what politicians say but the action they have taken and the outcomes they have achieved. Lets assess Gordon Brown based on his record, which includes attaining a very tight grip on his party.

The Labour Party conference should be renamed the Gordon Brown Conference because it has been so very leader dominated (and at times election obsessed). I ask - where has the Labour Party gone? Presumably it is happy to be dominated and controlled by its leader, going along with what the leader wants, like the retention of Trident, or no referendum on the EU constitutional treaty, whether it really wants it or not, because it feels this is its best hope of retaining power. Is it not better to have a more broad-based leadership though?

Gordon Brown’s conference speech to some extent imitated fellow ‘conviction politician’ Margaret Thatcher, (or even Winston Churchill). It worked at pressing the right buttons with people. He scattered key words like Britain and British tens of times throughout his speech because he wanted to create a certain sort of appeal. Opinion poll figures after the speech seem to indicate that it has upped support for the Brown government. Are we really going to be fooled like this?

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