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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The False Promise of Gordon Brown - The Lefty Illusion

Over at Crescat Sententia my friend Raffi Melkonian writes on the likely outcome of a Gordon Brown premiership sometime in the next few years:

But Brown cannot equal Blair's achievement. If he does live up to the advertising, and goes left, then the tories will simply re-take the center.

Of course, Raffi is right, but what I think is quite interesting about this all is the big "If" in the second sentence, and here the old left are sucking on a pipe dream. They have forgotten that Gordon Brown was one of the chief modernisers' of the Labour Party in the mid-1990s. He, rather than Tony Blair, cast off a lot of the old baggage. This is also the man who is rather more anti-European than Tony Blair, at least in part because he dislikes the idea of shackling Britain the socialist train wreck that are the French and German economies.

Also, for those who dislike Blair's centralisation need to look elsewhere. The Treasury is the most centralised and power hungry of all the Whitehall Departments. Gordon Brown has shown himself to be very keen on keeping control of the money there, and it is notable that he generally opposes plans for minimal decentralisation in the health service and education. The notable exception that proves the rule was the indepdence of the Bank of England, more or less the first thing he did in 1997.

Finally people have bought into the Brown-Blair myth. This is probably one of the greatest creations of UK politics these last few years. I have no doubt that the war between the Brownites and the Blairites is real, but that is quite a different thing than war between Blair and Brown. Or, put it another way, every married couple I know have arguments. Just because one has an argument does not signify a divorce, except in the inimical atmosphere of the Press.

There is a further point to consider here. There are rather a lot of Blairite MPs, and there likely will be after tomorrow as well. Gordon Brown can perhaps win the leadership without them, but he cannot govern without them. A shift too far to the left would lead to sizeable Parliamentary revolts just as surely as things like tuition fees and ID cards have for Tony Blair.

Why do people delude themselves that Gordon Brown will be substantially different? I honestly don't know. Personally I don't really like him, but a socialist he is not.

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