Thursday, 24 September 2009

Brown's Brighton challenge

So it gets serious now. The election campaign starts next week. Of course, David Cameron will get an easy ride. See Alistair Campbell's take on the media on his blog today. In my LabourList column this week I put it like this:
David Cameron has the easiest job in the world. He could read his conference the entire works of Marcel Proust and the media would characterise it as charismatic and visionary. They will marvel at the sight of a bipedal standing without support. He could bounce on one foot while singing the frog song and it would excite comparison with the best of The X-Factor compared with Strictly’s finest moments. You get the picture.
Gordon Brown has an enormous challenge, however. As I write, the finishing touches are being applied to his speech. It really needs to be top draw. Again, referring to my LabourList piece:
He has to convince that he has the ideas, and determination to continue. He doesn’t want to win just in order not to lose. He has to have a notion that connects his personal philosophy with a better Britain. He has to acknowledge mistakes, ditch the political baggage, and free himself for the good fight. He has to speak to the nation and say we’re better than to give up in an economic storm, things aren’t so bad that we have to turn to the first travelling salesman who passes through town, the years ahead are tough - and when things are tough you see the best in us.

And now is not the time to give up on social justice. Now is the time to advance it: less inequality, less environmental destruction, greater opportunity for all, a world united in facing up to its enormous collective problems, and a politics that is more open, democratic, and involving. If there is one lesson from financial calamity, it is that we must build a different way of doing things.
The Prime Minister has a piece in Prospect this month and was interviewed in the New Statesman. The Prospect piece has some good flourishes- especially the notion of caring society with better childcare and long-term care. It does feel rather muddled though; clear messages do not emerge. The New Statesman interview touches on how personalised politics has become:
“I think people have got to take responsibility for the statements that they make, and I have not tried to personalise politics in that way.” He adds: “It’s not the way I was brought up to behave and it not the way I behave.”
Indeed. Whatever happens in this election campaign, one only hopes that the tone and atmosphere is fitting for the scale of the problems we face and the fundamental differences between the parties. I think we all know that I'm going to be disappointed....

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