29 April 2007

Will Gordon Brown Change Labour?

What I'm encountering on the doorstep are folks who can be put into a few different categories:

- people who, in the Tim Spall TV ads with Jim Broadbent, don't do politics

- people who are so angry that they just don't vote anymore

- people who sympathise but don't think I'll get in

- people who are undecided

- people who are strong supporters of Labour or the Tories (I've only run into 3 people over 2 years of canvassing in Earlsdon who have said they are strong/lifelong Lib Dems -- maybe Lib Dems just don't declare at the door?), and,

- people who are Labour but wavering.

There are an awful lot of this final group.

Under Tony Blair, Labour has, on a variety of issues, become a centre-right party.

Off the top of my head, I'd cite the treatment of asylum seekers, the corporate influence in education, part-privatisations of air traffic control and the London Tube, keeping the railways private, Blair saying that Thatcher was right about the Falklands and the miners' strike, and their war alliance(s) with the US.

I'd guess that long-suffering Labour voters are holding out for a change of policy, and a dose of anti-spin presentation, under a Gordon Brown government.

However, Gordon Brown has been:

- the driving force behind the public-private-partnership of the London Underground
- the man who is privatising £16 billion in student loans
- a man, who unlike Robin Cook, remained in the cabinet despite Iraq, and who has been in charge of finding the money for Britain's part in the occupation of Iraq
- for 10 years, refusing to increase taxes on the rich ... this has meant that, for his tax credit policy, he has redistributed from the middle class and better-off working class to the poor
- someone who could have delivered more childcare by running state nurseries and crêches; Brown's childcare tax credit has not increased places and may have simply inflated the price of childcare
- a man who has only corporate representatives on his advisory panel on globalisation (from BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, Rolls Royce, Citigroup, Wal-Mart and eBay), that is to say, no representatives from NGOs, aid agencies, trade unions or human rights groups
- a man who Lord Turnbull (former Treasury permanent secretary) described as exercising such tight control of finances that he undermined government cohesion and coherence. Turnbull also said that Brown has a "very cynical view of mankind and his colleagues" and treats them dismissively, and that Brown prefers outsiders like Derek Wanless (NHS) and Paul Myners (corporate governance) to develop new ideas.

I fail to see how Gordon Brown will be agent of a wide-ranging renewal of Labour.

If anything, he will continue the PFI-led creeping privatisation of our public services, and in terms of spin/presentation, might out control-freak the control-freak's control-freak, Tony Blair.

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