Monday, September 25, 2006

Gordon Brown - Summer of '97

Gordon Brown's speech today reminded me of summer 1997.

I was living in Glasgow, the Labour party had just burst into power, changing everything in a stunning first 100 days.

One of the next challenges was to stage and win a Referendum on a separate Parliament for Scotland.

I attended the meeting that launched the campaign - speakers were the late Donald Dewar who had a formidable reputation as a public speaker, and Gordon Brown who was well-known to be dour and a bit boring.

As it happened, Donald Dewar was just about adequate and Gordon Brown blew the roof off the place with one of the most charismatic, enthusiastic heart-felt speeches I have ever experienced.

I stopped being an activist when I discovered that getting stuff done within the party had a far lower priority than back-biting and internal procedure, and that the iron-hand of the leadership allowed no lee-way from being "on message". A little later the Labour Party flip-flopped on practically every policy I cared about and so I gave up my membership totally.

Gordon Brown is a talented man, a gifted public speaker and has a genuine passion for his causes. Everyone seems to be convinced that he'll be Blair Mark II should he become leader.

I wonder whether he might pleasantly surprise us all.

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