Gordon Brown speaks out! And they do love that Nick Clegg in the US… but why wouldn’t they? April 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics, Uncategorized.
Well. What to say? I always took the line that Brown was a bit strange, spun by no end of Blairites, with a pinch of salt (The End of the Party sits on my bookshelf as yet, bar the Introduction, unread). And thing is that he’s really not that strange at all. But… inept? Or at least thoughtless. Or at least caught inside a bubble for too long? Yes to all of those. But when one reads the transcript he actually dealt with the issue, reasonably – although not brilliantly well. There was no reason for the post-discussion critique. He made his case, she appeared at least reasonably mollified. Indeed the tenor of the exchange improved markedly as time went on.
Indeed I’d argue that, as with almost all such ‘errors’ in politics, it’s not the initial act/words that cause the problem, but the walking back. Brown could have phrased subsequent comments on this – even after the ‘bigoted’ comment – in a way which remained true to his thoughts as he had in the actual discussion and remained reasonably graceful to the woman concerned. But no. Damage control slips into action and we’re left with ‘I misunderstood her comments’. No he didn’t. None of us reading the transcript could misunderstand them. Few enough I’d imagine would find it difficult to rebut them as he did. And he dealt with them, as I noted, reasonably well at the time.
How this changes the issues I do not know. Some pretty volatile polling returns out there at the moment. I’d think though that this would help the Conservatives more than anyone else.
Meanwhile, what of the bould Nick Clegg and those fans of his in the US media?
Okay, Anna Applebaum does… No, no, come back. It’s not just Anne Applebaum. And even if she does mention the Clapham omnibus – natch – let’s not ignore or dismiss some thoughts that the current love in raises.
Actually, hold on a second, because Applebaum makes a most peculiar comparison.
Here is a riddle: What would the Tea Party movement look like if it were British, privately educated, and had once worked as a ski instructor in Austria?
And the answer…
It would look like Nick Clegg, leader of the British Liberal Democrats—and possibly the beneficiary of the biggest British voters’ revolution in decades. For those who don’t follow these things, the Liberal Democrats are Britain’s historically insignificant third party. In its current incarnation, the party dates from the late 1980s, back when the Labor Party was a near-Marxist monolith, the Tories were the party of Margaret Thatcher, and there was a lot of space in between.
It bloody wouldn’t you know. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the Liberal Democrats, and I’ve pointed here to some aspects of them that from first hand living in the UK I found troubling. But to compare them to the Tea Party movement is an absolute absurdity [as noted in the comments, Michael Tomasky of the Guardian dealt with this – unbeknowst to myself in a good piece – wbs].
Ideologically, sociologically and structurally there are no comparisons between the TPs and the Liberal Democrats. One is a centrist embedded political party, the other appears to be a semi-populist response to the Obama Presidency from more conservative Republicans. Unless Applebaum is arguing that every response to Gordon Brown is equivalent to the Tea Party then she’s not comparing like and like.
Curious thing is that if you think about it surely the Liberal Democrats make a much better fit with the US Democrats. Ideologically, sociologically – although blue collar isn’t a word that readily springs to mind with the Lib Dems, in many ways they’d appear a much more congenial partner. That is bar one thing that the Liberal Democrats have not possessed, well, since they were Liberals.
Power and access to power.
And it’s that that makes Applebaums piece, and a really overly complimentary piece on ForeignPolicy.com appear, so curiously detached. At best the Liberal Democrats look likely to come out of this with perhaps 100 MPs. At best they can hope to form a coalition government. That’s at absolute best.
But it’s interesting to me to see that Clegg’s appeal has stretched even that far across the Atlantic.