Saturday, May 12, 2007

Flash Gordon Approaching!

So Ming had better be careful.

Tony's speech on Thursday was another fine performance from him (although he studiously avoided mentioning any mistakes that he might have made, while apologising generally for them). He was right when he said that the national joy of 1997 - a delight that transcended party boundaries - set the bar too high for the rest of the Labour years in power. It was never possible for a government to live up to the expectations of the people.

And then we had Gordon's explosion onto the scene yesterday, with his subtle hints of a different approach to government. Promises of more accountability and being prepared to listen are all very well, but they do have to be followed up by action. Let's see a government bill to give parliament the right to decide on military action. Let's see the daft proposals to limit freedom of information by including 'thinking time' in the costings scrapped. Let's see an end to the vastly over-priced identity card scheme - let's scrap our 'Poll Tax' before it gets off the ground. The report on Thursday that showed increased costs provides an excellent justification for forgetting the whole thing. He's promised to make the health service his priority - a policy area that we must ensure stays at the top of the Labour pile and one that the Tories have been trying to take over since Cameron got the top job.

I missed most of his first speech - although I agree that whoever set up the camera positions to ensure that the teleprompter screen obscured his face deserves to be shot for media mismanagement. I saw the second one in Stevenage and while Gordon is still clearly not at ease in that situation, he was making a clear effort to be more inclusive by looking around at the whole audience - even if talking to the ones behind and to his side cause his voice to drop away from the microphones on occasion. He's not the rounded media presenter that Blair is or that Cameron is striving to imitate, but that might not be a bad thing.

Gordon has to appear different and has to be different. 'Change' and 'new' were words used an awful lot yesterday, but we need more than words. The electorate seem tired of Labour at the moment, so reinvention is in order and that takes real policy. While he doesn't want to throw out the achievements of the past decade - which I'm not going to revisit at the moment - he needs to put a little clear red water between him and the Blair years.

A fourth term is there to win. It will be a fight - for the first time in a decade, the Tories will put up a decent challenge - but we can do it. We will also need to be as united as we were behind Blair in '97 - no sniping from the Blairite wing when Gordon takes office. The alternative is not worth considering.


Simon said...

My opinion of Labour will soar if Brown dispenses with ID cards. As a small 'l' liberal with Labour sympathies I could just about stomach their many and various other attacks on civil liberties, but ID cards pushed me over the edge.

Danny Mac said...

I reckon Labour will soar if Brown kicks out the sleaze. Let's see what he does with Benn. Blair's 'Premiership' was tainted right from the get-go with Formula 1.
We've had regular disclosures culminating with the (alleged) 'bung me a million and I'll give you a seat in the Lords' fiasco.
If Brown is being honest about his moral compass we will be in good hands.