Saturday, 19 April 2008

Gordon Brown: creating a truly global society

The Prime Minister's Kennedy memorial lecture has been getting quite a bit of attention and not without justification. It is one of the most formidable speeches given by a British politician for quite some time. In it he articulates a vision of a global society where reformed international institutions work to alleviate poverty, combat environmental degradation, defeat international terrorism, and work to eliminate treatable disease. As an articulation of liberal interventionism it has been compared to Tony Blair's Chicago lecture in 1999. But it is even better than that.

This is the second intellectually impressive speech that Brown has given in recent months. The other was his discussion of liberty and Britishness. Where that speech left the policy thinking strangely incomplete, the Kennedy memorial lecture proposes formidable solutions: a new IMF to concentrate on early warning of financial turbulence, a World Bank constitutionally established to tackle poverty and climate change, a UN with resources and a mandate to state-build, stronger regional cooperation such as in the EU and the African Union, and a new fair global trade deal amongst other suggestions.

Historically grounded, inspirational, purposeful, and visionary, the Brown that we hear in this speech is a different Brown to the media image that is becoming established. Whatever the criticism aimed at the Prime Minister, if the voice we heard yesterday is heard again and again then a political recovery is very possible indeed.

Postscript: Given that the Prime Minister mentions the frontierless power of the internet in his speech, you would have thought that it would be available as a video or podcast on the Number 10 website, no? Time to raise the game Number 10 web geeks....

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