Today, Gordon Brown gave his last conference speech as Leader of the Labour party. It will not be enough to save his party from defeat, and it is not quite enough to get rid of him in advance of the general election, now widely considered likely to fall on May 6 2010. I’m sure Mick Fealty will be covering some of the angles on his excellent Slugger O’Toole, and I think you could do a lot worse than checking DizzyThinks as well.
His speech was not bad. it had rhetorical flourishes, but it had sometimes too many of them. It had intelligent, human touches, but it perhaps had too many of those as well, in differing styles. It felt like a speech written by his Cabinet, a mush of styles, a mush of objectives, with no real narrative running through it. It was delivered well, it carried the auditorium.
Just unpicking the bits I reckon we’ll be able to use against him, in order of attackability:
- Punishments for the 50,000 worst behaved families
- ‘Gulags for Slags’ – homes for young unmarried mothers (not my term, but it is catching on)
- ID cards not to be compulsory
- Increasing National Insurance
- Guaranteed increases in National Minimum Wage
- A guarantee that our armed forces will always be well equipped
- Drink ASBO extensions
- No commitment on a TV debate as promised
- Suggesting Tony Blair started the Peace Process in Northern Ireland
- Claiming the tories would substantially cut the NHS
I reckon that’s three attack ads right there if we want them. The whole return to the ASBO culture, which he sees as a way to look tough, looks to me like another extension of the macho culture which seems to permeate his government, The plan for places for young unmarried mothers to work and live is, let’s face it, a plan for workhouses. The plan for many more hostels for the homeless is somewhat admirable but could very easily come down to an expensive plan for poorhouses. Not progressive.
His attacks on families are distinctly authoritarian – @MarkReckons thought it bordered close on Stalinism, and I have some difficulty in disagreeing with him.
Increases in National Insurance will hit the poor a damn lot more than it’ll hurt the rich, and is nowhere near an equalising policy, whilst the plan to increase the National Minimum Wage are pure politics, in a time when a bit of respite could really help employers.
Brown’s commitment to the Armed forces is a joke, a disgrace and an absolute shocker, and should give Liam Fox MP something nice and meaty to get into for his star turn at conference. Brown is disgracing himself and the whole country by sending our boys and girls into harm’s way without the best equipment.
And, memo to the Labour Party: We Love the NHS didn’t win you a single point in an opinion poll. People trust the Conservatives with the health service, because they realise that the Conservatives have nothing to gain by dismantling it. Give over.