Brown – Is he up to “New, New Labour”
31st March, 2007
“New, New Labour” is the name being touted by Brown followers about the party under Brown, if ever he becomes prime minister.
That title itself will raise fears inside the Old Guard of the Labour party who proudly display Blair’s head on their belts. After all they were not happy with Blair’s New Labour, much less the possibility of New New Labour. That’s why the rush to dump Blair, despite some protestations about it being Iraq or cash-for-honours.
It was “the policies” stupid! And mainly domestic policies, such as the NHS and Education.
But New New Labour surely means adding to New Labour, not ditching the hated newness. A double whammy?
Why get rid of one New guy, (who happens to be a proved election winner), and replace him with another New guy?
BATTLE OF IDEAS
We are not yet clear as to whether the natural economic conservative Brown is as radical as Blair with regard to the whole political scene or a steady-as-she-goes man hoping to keep all on board. We have been told that New Labour has been a joint-project and Blair’s leadership a joint-leadership. That may be true about many earlier policies but we know that Brown kept tight rein on economic policy, refusing at times to even tell Blair what was going into his budgets. Equally, Blair kept hold of foreign policy without it seems too much debate with Brown over principles. However, Brown never walked out of Cabinet over, say, Iraq, and always supported Cabinet decisions.
Certainly the biggest challenges he will have to deal with are foreign, international questions to do with the Middle East. And yet, for a one-job man over ten years, how much does he REALLY understand the geo-political forces at work?
The domestic scene is largely settled, both main parties agreeing on the way forward in most areas, with some tweaking at the edges.
It is not hard to see why Blairites wish the reluctant David Miliband well, wrought as he is in Blair’s image. He even talks like Blair.
They do not trust Brown for more than the reason of the ‘coup’. They believe that in Miliband, Tony Blair will still have the ear of government even after he has gone to help maintain the newness of Labour and the country. In that way his ten years expertise might still be of use. Also, since Miliband has experience of the Environment portfolio, and that is the coming thing, Miliband has his finger on today’s pulse. And, since I believe the world’s climate may well be Blair’s future portfolio Miliband would be well placed to keep Britain’s environmental aims on track.
As for the “battle of ideas” – well, it is a phrase being touted by both sides in the Labour party leadership, and easier to say than to put into action, perhaps.
Tony Blair has mentioned the battle of ideas many times. Changes – ever changing – are also a recurrent theme of his. David Miliband makes similar sounds. What does Gordon Brown say about the battle of ideas?
Nothing much yet, though I’ll do do some research and see what I can find.
The war of ideas takes us back to the words of Tony Blair in his Manchester speech, “the issues today are global”.
And the war of ideas is bigger than just a battle.
I think we will miss the international perspective and experience of Tony Blair once he moves off our political scene.
That is what marks him apart from Brown. How strange that, when we need his strategic international thinking most, he is leaving it to others, the last thing he wishes to do.