A Fairer Future for Brown?

They Want To Be Together

A Future Fair for All, a phrase which echoes the thinking behind some of Labour’s big public policy schemes, seems a decent slogan in these straitened times – not least thanks to the conviction Gordon Brown brought to its delivery at the University of Warwick a few hours ago. He lo0ked confident – even upbeat – as he asked voters to take a second look at his party – his team, as he emphasised – and what he characterised as the dangerous one-man band of David Cameron’s Conservatives. It’s a message with potential resonance – the many above the few, optimism over pessimism, positive prudence versus aggressive cuts. The question, as always, is how willing the electorate are to buy anything from Gordon Brown.

The Brighton and Hove polls performed by Kindle Research offer some good news in this regard; so, too, did the hostility to the Tories – rather than mere disappointment with the Government – on show during Thursday’s Teeside Question Time. But the real question is what’s happening in swing seats – in Dudley, where two swing seats are currently being covered with “I’ve never voted Conservative before but …” posters, or Nuneaton, from where if we’re lucky Laura Kuenssberg might Tweet shortly. This is still difficult to tell.

I’m more Bob Piper than Steve Richards on the issue of James Purnell’s resignation, but, as John Harris points out in today’s Guardian, it doesn’t lo0k good for Labour when big, young names like him throw in the towel. The Tories are just losing their Nicholas Wintertons, after all. So it’s not the scepticism of the Spectator Brown has to worry about; it’s the realism of the electorate – their under-appreciated ability to see when a party is on its way down. This is why he was at such pains in his speech to emphasise the ministers around him – Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Yvette Cooper, Peter Mandelson. (No mentions, conspiciously, for either Ed Balls or David Miliband – their post-election leadership ambitions are the elephant in that room – and, honestly, was this Tweet from Miliband deliberately timed?)

The new optimism has real potential; the question is, can Labour present themselves a party still with the forward momentum? Brown did well this morning. There are many more mornings – and many more sleepless nights – before the election. Brown won’t want to look tired on any of them.


5 thoughts on “A Fairer Future for Brown?

  1. 18thaureliano says:

    In Dudley, there’s also one of those smarm-tastic ‘I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS’ posters that’s been helpfully graffitid with ‘I’LL CUT PAY, PENSIONS AND TAX ON THE RICH’ too. It’s survived for at least 3 weeks and I keep meaning to take a pic of it…

  2. catho says:

    Hey Dan

    You pin pointed why Labour are in such trouble.

    ‘it’s the realism of the electorate – their under-appreciated ability to see when a party is on its way down’

    Unfortunately, I feel Labour has little to no chance at presenting themselves as ‘a party still with the forward momentum’, probably because, frankly, they aren’t.

    Cameron isn’t doing as good in the poll’s as he once was (and I think the blog you wrote the other day had some interesting observations about that) and until this ridiculous bullying rubbish Brown seemed to be doing a bit better but… To be honest through all the poll shifts my opinion on the next election hasn’t changed for the last two years. I still feel the public has moved worryingly to the right on various issues and I still feel that most left wing commentaors seem ignorant to that. Labour’s position is of their own making and I don’t see how they can get out of this rut.

    Hope all’s cool


  3. danhartland says:

    First – I think we are all agreed that we need photos of Dudley graffiti.

    Second – Catho, today’s Guardian/ICM poll doesn’t do much to support your theory of an electorate veering to the right. Yes, it puts Cameron in front still – but a true political movement of the sort you argue for would put him far further ahead. My own analysis is that the centre moved to the right some years ago – helped along by a New Labour anxious not to scare anti-leftists – but that it hasn’t moved very further right since 1997. What has happened is that Labour has failed to do anything with its occupation of that centre ground; the Tories must thus now convince they are able to occupy it.

    They may not be helped by the IMF.

  4. catho says:

    Hey there, dan,

    The Guardian/icm poll didn’t suprise me. I already said that Cameron has dropped in the polls. To be honest I find it quite funny that journalists and spectators are talking like this is the first time Cameron’s dipped. This has happened at least two times since he’s original bounce in ’07 (Usually a couple of months before by elections only for the tories to still win with clear majoritys). When I said a good deal of the public had moved to the right, I meant on specific issues. When responding to a poll such as the one in the guardian, I tend to find people are quite moody in how they respond (such as “Brown gets picked on too much, you can’t blame him for everything” or “Cameron’s just a PR man, he has no substance. I’m not sure about him”). sadly, I don’t think these poll’s always reflect how people feel on issues.

    As for the publics move to the right, I think it’s been pretty obvious for some time now. While everyone would agree that economically the centre moved to the right post Thatcherism ( “we’re all Thatcherrites now!” A critical Tony Benn), Personally I think we’ve had a very socially liberal time of it the past ten years and I fear that this is slipping away. You brought up the hostility to the Torie on last weeks question time. I can’t help but wonder how that same audience would have reacted if Douglas Murray had been on the panel giving another one of his ghastly ‘assaulted by immigration’ speeches, probably not with the same Liberal disgust you or I would. I wonder how they would’ve reacted to another eurosceptic rampage from Danial Hannan ( suerly he would’ve been able to spin something to them over the steel plant situation). One of my friend’s (who is far to the left, so this doesn’t include him) plays on a local sunday league footie team, you should hear some of the comments they make about the NHS, frightening! My main problem is that political spectators who write for various centre left publications seem oblivious to this! they seem to think the tories views are out of date views that are out of step with public, and the country is still in the optimistic, liberal place it was ten years ago, I don’t! And, to a point, I’m worried. A lot of this is becuase the problem wasn’t addressed some years ago when it could’ve been. Anyway I’ve probably rambled enough


  5. danhartland says:

    Hm. I’m reminded of Tony Blair giving a tub-thumping, patriotic interview to the Sun in 1997 about how he wouldn’t give in to those garlicy Europeans; I recall Jack Straw being eased out of the Home Office because his dog whistle wasn’t shrill enough, replaced by a Blunkett’s who was. I’m not sure that the sorts of unthinking prejudices you’re talking about are so new – I hear them around my neck of the woods all the time, too. This is an issue which, I agree, has never been properly tackled. But it’s also one that the Daily Mail has spent decades cultivating – it’s never not been with us.

    To which end, I’m not sure the chaps down the football field signify a broader shift to the right so much as a persistent anti-authoritarian Little England mentality which has always been the underbelly of our political discourse. Certainly, if everyone was actually right-wing, the Tories wouldn’t be having a problem – their dog whistles would be sounding loud and clear. Actually, the sort of talk you cite is as common in Labour supporters – albeit likely to be disaffected ones – as Tory. Which benefits neither major party – although, I agree, it could damage both.

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