The serialisation of Alastair Darling’s memoirs (behind the Times paywall so no link I’m afraid) has prompted another round of Brown-baiting, which seems to have become a favourite pastime of the political class in the years of and following Brown’s premiership. (The fact that it coincides with an opportunity to earn wagon-loads of cash from lucrative book deals is just a happy coincidence I’m sure.) It appears that many people in the Westminster bubble are determined to humiliate, belittle and cast him as a mentally unstable villain who was unfit for high office.
Mr Brown doesn’t seem to be doing much to defend himself at the moment so it falls to me, bizarrely. And I don’t even like him that much really. But the feeding frenzy of the last two or three years has sickened me.
The vain, egotistical and self-justifying antics of Messrs Mandelson, Blair and Darling in the months and years since they left office has been a reminder, if it were needed, of quite how utterly intellectually bankrupt the New Labour project was. It was led and organised by some of the most brilliant minds British politics has ever seen, but directed to ends that have left the labour party morally and physically eviscerated. Their legacy is 13 years in which they achieved virtually nothing positive, led Britain into two wars on the coattails of probably the most right-wing administration America has ever had, at the cost of billions of pounds and thousands of lives, continued the dismantling of the post-war consensus, hollowed out the membership of the Labour Party, promoted an economic model based on unsustainable personal (not national) debt, whilst sycophantically catering to the every whim of a Murdoch press that for the entire duration of the Blair/Brown years was engaging in terrifying, vomit-inducing levels of mendacity and corruption. Peter ‘Goebbels’ Mandelson and Tony ‘I’ve squared it with God’ Blair in particular are enough to make one’s skin crawl. They reek of that familiar odour of bourgeois entitlement so prevalent in the Conservative Party, and are wholly lacking in humanity, empathy and a basic sense of decency.
Gordon Brown, whatever his many faults, (i.e. his disappearing at the wrong moment, his cowardice over Iraq, his unwillingness to break decisively with the Blair neoliberal and neoconservative ideology that was pursued domestically and internationally by the government, the control-freakery and endless factionalism) stood in stark contrast to the rest of the New Labour cabal. Don’t get me wrong, he was clearly one of the main architects of New Labour and I’m under no illusions about his politics, but one got the sense that he genuinely saw it as the only means by which the hated Tories, the so-called ‘natural party of government’ in the UK, could be ejected from office and replaced by a Labour administration that would take some steps, albeit fairly limited ones, to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism. He was a man of principle and honour, who had had to overcome great personal handicaps to achieve high office through bloody-minded determination and the superhuman powers of personal endurance (the work-rate he sustained was stupendous). He had a basic belief in the beneficial role that the public sector and government could play in changing people’s lives for the better. He agonised over the big political questions (as a human being should, unlike the rest of the New Labour gobshite automatons), he clearly wanted to lift those less fortunate out of poverty and provide them with the means to realise their potential (even if his approach to doing so was not one that I would agree with). The famous controversy over the supposedly mis-spelt names on Brown’s personal letters to the families of service personnel lost in combat in fact, despite the dishonest intentions of the pondlife that make up so much of the tabloid press in this country, showed a man who deeply cared about the issue and personally felt the grief of every family. Do you think Blair gives a monkey’s? The lives of those who died and continue to die in the conflicts he is chiefly responsible for meant, and continue to mean nothing to him.
Brown was uncomfortable with the media, according to his critics. So fucking what? On what planet is being telegenic more important than having a grasp of the issues? Why do we insist on preferring
liars actors rather than men/women of substance?
He had a volcanic temper as well. Why shouldn’t he? Is that a bad thing? He was dealing with issues of life and death, policy questions that would have a huge impact on the lives of millions of people up and down the country and across the world, and he was working ridiculously long hours that most mere mortals could not physically sustain. Not losing his temper regularly would have bothered me more. Again, it shows he was a real human being, and not the monster that the tabloids and embittered Blairites are so determined to paint him as.
I get the feeling that much of the vitriol directed at Brown stems from knowing that
a) He was smarter than them
b) He believed, albeit in a very anaemic form, in a type of redistributionist socialism that the ruling class in this country is so determined to stamp out and wipe totally from the memories of our collective consciousness.
c) He was probably was one of the leading figures, if not the leading figure in saving the international banking and capitalist system in 2008. And that is something that his Blairite and Tory opponents can’t stomach, and explains the child-like David Cameron/George Osborne sabotaging of Brown’s bid to head the IMF, a role he is eminently qualified for.
Brown was a complicated, flawed human being, but I’d take him over the shower of shit that has governed Britain immediately before and after him any day of the week. I love you Gordon. And a message to Alistair Darling should he ever read this: go fuck yourself. You weren’t fit to lick your boss’s boots.