Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Brown Approach

Brown's first speech as leader was largely predictable. Again it was a privilege, there were a lot of thank yous and he talked about his priorities in housing, education, ending poverty, the environment, foreign policy and global injustice. Largely a checklist, but they had to be said by a credible prime minister; and that was the image he conveyed in my opinion (and surprisingly Iain Dale's).

Two bits stood out as being faintly rhetorical while personal but also a little difficult to assess. Firstly the 'who I am' section:
"Call it ‘the driving power of social conscience’, call it 'the better angels of our nature’, call it ‘our moral sense’, call it a belief in ‘civic duty’. I joined this party as a teenager because I believed in these values. They guide my work, they are my moral compass. This is who I am."
The better angels of our nature, perhaps this is the social responsibility theme that runs through all public political discourse at the moment.

Secondly there is the responsive government theme:

"This week marks a new start; A chance to renew. And I say to the people of Britain: The new government I will lead belongs to you. I will work hard for you. I shall always try my utmost. I am ready to serve."
His approach is to give more power over policy to the members of the party through consultation, and the public through citizen forums and citizen juries. Though there was a slight linguistic hint that this was also about gaining electoral support: "determined that we reach out to all people who can be persuaded to share our values and who would like to be part of building a more just society". Whether this means a great deal is always questionable, speeches come and go and their link to actual initiatives can often appear tenuous. So a clear and distinctly new approach, or more of the same: that is the big question!

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