Sunday, May 06, 2007

Brown - any better?

Some people say that Gordon Brown wont be any different to Blair, he's a neoliberal who voted for the war and as Chancellor he has been in charge of pushing private companies deeper and deeper still into the public sector - but this ignores the little things, the nuances, that make up more significant changes.

First of all it's worth asking is he more popular than Blair? Is it a good electoral move to elect Brown as leader? Well polls seem to regard Brown as a touch too dour and unlovable for the electorate and many Labour MPs do seem to have itchy feet about him, itches they certainly would not be having if he was a sure fire seat winner.

But what's the big deal about style and charm anyway? We don't want Justin Timberlake and Billy Piper as PM and Deputy. Or do we?

Part of this, to my mind, is that Brown has sensibly kept his mouth shut for the last ten years. He's been a bit more chatty in the last year, so he's not a total unknown, but he's been careful not be too associated with unpopular policies in the public's mind. That doesn't mean he does not support the Iraq war or ID cards, but he's not seen as an enthusiast for them and therefore is in a position to ditch any controversial policy without losing face - something Blair could not possibly do.

In fact for Labour this is possibly Brown's key advantage, an opportunity to strip away the bits of Blair's legacy that are too unpalatable for the electorate without actually having to take a fundamentally different direction. It would also be a vote winner if Brown took one or two carefully chosen policies and denounced them or turned them on their head in order to say "Look at me I'm not the same!".

Bombing Israel for instance.

Secondly, one of the biggest changes a Brown government could make is a change of personnel at the top. John Reid has declared that he will not be a Minister in a Brown administration... what's not to like about that? It also looks like Hilary Benn has the unofficial endorsement of Brown for the deputy position and anyone who thinks that is the same thing as having Presscott in the number two slot is living in a very unnuanced world indeed.

There's bound to be some ministers left in place but the introduction of new bodies, some possibly verging on competence, might be seen to work and the more changes there are the longer a honeymoon period Brown will get. A return for Jack Straw might be in the offing and Ed Balls as Chancellor is a possibility... we'll see.

When all is said and done the better fist of it Brown makes the worse it will be for the Tories, but personally I think the worst thing for the minor parties would be if it looks like a close run thing. If the main point on the agenda at the next general election is whether we have a Tory government or not (and whoever wins we will have a Tory government) it will squeeze the "others" because people will not feel safe to vote Respect or Green or Socialist Party.

So good luck Brown - try not to fuck the country up too much old chap./b>

1 comment:

Derek Wall said...

Gordon Brown - the neo-liberal's neo-liberal