I watched Gordon Brown’s ghastly Conference speech and thought that Simon Hoggart got it right.
But there was a dreamlike quality to the whole speech. The gist of it was, that after nearly 13 years, Labour wants a crack at government. Having constructed a short, sanitised version of a past that did happen, he launched into a future that probably never will: whimpering bankers flee from the wrath of the British people, grateful old folk get free care at home, sinister-sounding “action squads” will sort out troublemakers on problem estates, no more hereditary peers, a plebiscite on PR, green jobs for green people, as he almost said, and a weird Victorian notion of an institution for fallen women – a barracks for single teenage mothers. There will be “family intervention projects” for the most “chaotic” families. “Blimey, it’s the fip-man at the door. Put that spliff out and get the dog off the baby’s tea.”
And asbos will be strictly enforced, no doubt by the same action squads that will stop binge drinking and bankers’ bonuses. But as the late Linda Smith said: “Don’t knock asbos – for some of these kids it’s the only qualification they’ve got.”
The whole fantasy, that Labour has another five years in office to do all the things it never quite got round to in the last 13, pleased the conference mightily.
They’re going to dream massive buy-two-get-one-free dreams and reach deep inside themselves like the monster from Alien. They loved it.
As regular readers know, I’ve thought for a long time that the reason Tony Blair hung on for so long was that he knew Brown would be a disaster. In that, at least, he was dead right.