Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brown's Keynote Hits Bum Note With Voters

Brown may have eased the pain of some of his thick-skinned and selfish band of MPs and ministers, worried about losing their jobs and seats in the next election but his 'keynote' speech to conference will hit a bum note with voters. 

He could have pulled a rabbit out of the hat to persuade people to vote for New Labour in the coming by-elections but there was no big policy here to create a wow factor. 

But then that wasn't the intention. It was to give Brown breathing space, more time and, as such, this was a New Labour speech - all style and no substance.

It was crafted to head off a Blairite leadership challenge and with "this is no time for a novice", sent Blair-boy Miliband back to the classroom and nailed his New Labour Blairite colours to the mast:

"New Labour has always been at its best when we have applied our values to changing times. In the 1990s Tony and I asked you to change policy to meet new challenges."

That will not entice back voters, who are turning away from New Labour in their droves, in Scotland and England, nor will yet another Brown rebranding and relaunch. 

Still this was billed as a Labour Party conference, so there was a sprinkling of the word "fairness" and a few crumbs of comfort, otherwise he'd be done under the Trades Description Act. 

Previous failed policies were spun as good news but only to name check the ministers and try to keep them in line with platitudes, to justify his judgement and mask their incompetence. But with the long-awaited cabinet reshuffle now more likely anytime soon, some of the die-hard Blairites were clearly not impressed.

In this two-faced speech he took a swipe at the media and at politicians who use their families to gain media coverage - and then used his wife to introduce him. 

And just in case the fat cats and business pals were having second thoughts about donating cash to the New Labour coffers, he reassured them:

"We are and will always be a pro-enterprise, pro-business and pro-competition government. And we believe the dynamism of our five million businesses large and small is vital to the success of our country."  

Miliband may have had delegates rolling in the aisles with his Frank Spencer impression but he did come out with one grain of truth by singling out Brown's achievements, complimenting him for his work in International Development and, er, that was it. 

Brown ended as he began, by speaking to the Party faithful and not so faithful, not to the people, with an election rallying call: 

"We will win, not for the sake of our party, together we will win for the future of our country." 

A strange call for something that, officially at least, is still 18 months away.

Brown is a dead man walking and his conference speech will not change that. Yesterday a call was made here for Brown to face 'death with dignity'.

Instead, he has chosen to ignore that advice and will now suffer the dire consequences, taking his beloved New Labour project with him but sadly for English and Scottish politics, also the whole of the Labour Party. 

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