Remember remember the 23rd of September

Leonardo Goi (Italy, AC07-09)


The man who walked onto the podium of Manchester’s Labour Party conference, on September 23rd, amidst a rapturous applause, had a delicate mission to accomplish. He had to restore his position as the only legitimate leading candidate of the Labour Party. He had to re-polish his figure and reinstate prestige to the nation upon which he stood – the same nation which looked at him, moved, as he entered Downing Street in 2007, eager to restore the Blairite legacy. Gordon Brown’s voice was not trembling, as he delivered his lifetime speech, proclaiming his leadership and the present inopportunity of a “novice” at the head of the party, whilst chasing the shadows of plotters struggling to oust him. 

Once on the podium of Manchester’s hall, he was welcomed by his wife Sarah, reiterating Mr Obama’s manoeuvre in the attempt to establish a closer contact with the audience, and, consequently, with the whole nation.

True – if Mr Brown’s aim was to raise his voice upon those muttering about his inadequacies and fiascos, the Cabinet now has reason to feel relatively confident. The man who waffled about economic and social issues crucial to the stability of his nation seemed to be fading – albeit slowly – under the archaisms and rhetoric largely borrowed from the US election campaigns. True – if Mr Brown’s speech was meant to cast doubts upon putative internal Judases, then David Miliband would have to retain his forced smile (as he did when the cameras framed him during the speech) until further notice, or rather, further fiascos.

For yes – there are reasons to be careful about Mr Brown’s promises. From the moment of his coronation as the natural heir of the Blairite era, Mr Brown watched – incapable of reacting – as a 12 point Labour lead vanished under the shadows of Mr Cameron’s eclecticism and Mr Miliband’s factionalism, turning into a 20 point deficit. The 10p tax policy marked the lowest consensus level ever reached during Mr Brown’s mandate. Sudden drifts and auto-critical reflections might have been a constant of Mr Brown’s manoeuvres, but their long-term effects have shown the clear break between the compromising Blairites and the unpredictable policies of the New Labour Party’s architect.

These radical drifts might ultimately undermine the pillars upon which Mr Brown’s project stands. Never mind the frailty of speculations – if the Labour starts being associated with a party of privilege, not only would they fail the overlapping of the Tories creeds, but they would also be dragged in internal diatribes unappealing to most of its traditional voters. Mr Cameron, it goes without saying, won’t remain in the shadow of a crippled majority. Now that everything seems to be ready for a coup, his meteoric rise will not stop right before the finish line. The reinvention of his “cantankerous party” (to borrow one of last week Time’s expressions) reflects the present tendency of the two coalitions to shift their attention towards new layers of voters. The main doubts rattling Mr Brown’s future rise from this hypothetical substitution: if the Tories – purged from their elitisms and filled up with ‘supposedly’ genuine progressive intentions – are able to gain the consensus of those voters traditionally pro-Labour, the same cannot be said about Mr Brown’s coalition. Any effort aimed to embrace the views of Tory voters would only show the inadequacies of Mr Brown’s tactics, incapable of combining the interests of middle-class voters and workers.

Yet Tory success does not stem primarily from Mr Cameron’s legacy. His predecessors had already set the party ready for such a change. Margaret Thatcher fiercely fought the conceited conception of the Tories oligarchic system, and called for a tighter cohesion with the masses. Her successor, John Major, who strived (and managed) to escalate the party support amongst Britons achieved the same feat. Mr Cameron will have to do nothing but retain this line of controlled reformation – and base his future policies on the versatility of a party able to convince both supporters and opponents.

Fair point: the Parliament Plot might come from within the Party itself. The provocative article written by David Miliband this summer – right after the Labourite debacle in the Glasgow East by-election – still echoes premonitions and casts doubts on the effectiveness of Mr Brown’s policies, as it did when it was first published. Yet seeing the 43-year-old secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affair at the head of the country seems quite unlikely. Mr Brown warned the hall of the threat of a leaderless nation, and he did so serving up the Labourites creed of solidity and political stability.

He promised a new programme for social care, in the attempt to allow more people to be cured in their own houses. He promised to abolish all taxes for patients with long term confinements. He guaranteed to implement his statutes to defeat child poverty by 2020. And, as the crowd emerged in an ovation once his last words lingered over Manchester’s hall, he managed to buy himself some time.

He might have come back. The man the labour party once dreamed of n the eve of Mr Blair’s farewell appeared in Manchester’s hall, and left the audience moved, and, most importantly, determined. But the shadows of a labour plot have not faded yet, and will not fade until Mr Miliband’s smile will be wiped out, and along with it the confidence of an eclectic, renewed Tory Party. There’s reason to hope, and reason to fear. After all, the 5th of November is not so far away.  


– United World College Student Magazine –


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