Golden Brown and collaboration?

I have to admit Gordon Brown grew on me as a leader despite obvious flaws he obviously did his best and the way he was treated over issues such as his handwriting by the media and bloggers like Guido Fawkes was appalling. You might therefore expect me to welcome the news he will be speaking at this years Labour conference.

However, I think it’s a dreadful mistake and whoever thought it was a good idea is shall we say, a little lacking when it comes to political strategic thinking. The whole point of this conference is to renew and, of course, to crown a new leader who will use it as a platform to suitably impress the nation. Having the political equivalent of Banquo’s ghost attending the feast therefore does not seem like a terribly cleaver idea. In fact, it’s a monumentally stupid idea. Strategic thinking at the top of the party is still dominated it seems by factional interests because while Brown has rightly stepped back from frontline politics, Charlie Whelen still very much holds court and obviously wants to maintain his influence.I would be happy for Brown to speak at any future Labour conference however this is defiantly not the right one.

Meanwhile, Alan Milburn has joined the ranks of John Prescott’s ‘collaborators’ . While Milburn isn’t being a model of loyalty to the Party it is perhaps worth noting that as an ardent Blairite in joining with the Liberal Democrats and the supposedly more ‘moderate’ wing of the Conservatives he is probably being basically true to what he believes and is following the logic of his own politics to its natural conclusion. In fact, the problem with a ‘rainbow coalition’ with the Liberal Democrats in the first place is that it is the logical realisation of the Blairite project. Given the fact that Milburn is showing loyalty of a fashion (to what he truly believes) I find it hard to be as harsh on him as Prescott who seemingly and conveniently would like to ignore the fact that it’s Milburn’s Blairism which made this a natural move. I am sure in a changed Labour Party the influence of these people will diminish as a natural course in any case so my wish is bon voyage; do not pass go and defiantly do not select these people for safe Labour seats.

All of this should be in the past but one of my major fears; especially given the Brown news, is that Labour simply will not be able to let-go and if it is to move forward it has too. Not only do we need to let-go for the sake of the Party but also for the sake of the country which more than ever needs a strong, coherent and effective opposition; not one sitting in a darkened corner licking its wounds tormenting itself over its past defeats.


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About darrellgoodliffe


2 responses to “Golden Brown and collaboration?”

  1. de g. says :

    The problem with Milburn (and Hutton and, to a much greater extent, Field) collaborating with the coalition is not the principle of them serving the country. It is that they are giving the coalition legitimacy, allowing them to stake a claim to the progressiveness which we know is not theirs to claim.

    For an ‘ardent Blairite’ like Milburn, this ought to be particularly galling. After all, the positive legacy of the last 13 years *is* Blairite, and it is this legacy that the coalition is systematically dismantling in their quest to minimise the role of the state.

    Milburn and Hutton of course are not MPs, and so their activities are their own business. Field, on the other hand, should recognise that by helping the coalition to implement their programme he is acting fundamentally against the Labour Party, and should do the decent thing and resign the Labour whip. I somehow doubt he has the integrity to do that however.

    Labour needs to let go, but it also needs to not burn its bridges to the past. The Blair era within our party delivered an awful lot of major improvements in the life of our country, and part of retaining our credibility is being able to stand up and defend those things we did that were right. Sadly, one of the two front-runners in the leadership election (and I believe your chosen candidate) seems rather reluctant to do this.

    On a slightly tangential point, I notice that you’re backing the candidate who has the backing of, uh, the man who you criticise for wanting to maintain his influence? Is this a case of ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’?


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Hmmm but surely the point is that Blairism was aiming towards a similar end – yes, it may have used different means but still I see nothing that incompatiable between Blairite politics and the politics of this coalition.

    True, I agree their activities are their own business as not being sitting MP’s. I also agree that the case against Field as a sitting Labour MP is slightly different and like you say the decent thing for him to do is resign the Labour whip.

    Yes, it did in some ways and it would be one-sided not to see that however, its dislike of radical structural change when it comes especially to challenging the market did limit the effectiveness of the steps it took in that direction. I don’t believe that is true of Ed Miliband at all to be honest; he has talked about the radical promise of the 97 manifesto and wants to recapture that.

    Does Ed Miliband have the *personal* backing of Charlie Whelen? I know he does of Unite as a union but even if it does why on earth does us supporting the same candidate invalidate my point? I wasnt being that critical I dont think to be honest – I was merely pointing out that he is still trying to act through Brown and isnt really thinking clearly about what is in the best interests of the wider party as has been shown by his pointless public spat with Mandelson.


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