James Forsyth

Brown’s mindset on full display

Brown's mindset on full display
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Labour high command will be very satisfied with Brown’s performance on Marr this morning. There was far less of the tetchiness that we usually see from Brown in interviews and by being invited to talk about the ash cloud and the government’s response to it at the beginning, Brown was able to assume some of the aura of his office as Prime Minister.

The interview saw the debut of Brown’s latest rewriting of history. Apparently he has always been for bringing in the liberals (exact quote to follow when the BBC release the transcript) and a ‘progressive consensus’. This will come as a shock to anyone who has read Paddy Ashdown’s diaries or talked to those involved in the discussions between the two parties in the mid to late nineties.

Brown carried on with his debate tactic of hugging the Lib Deems close, declaring that ‘Nick Clegg is right’ when talking about constitutional reform. There was some criticism of the Lib Dems but it was fairly mild stuff. Brown’s comment that a ‘hung parliament’ would be a bad thing for the country was also made with very little feeling.

There was a joint dig at Clegg and Cameron when Brown said the election would not be about youth or inexperience but substance. Indeed, Labour’s plan right now is to imply that Brown’s lack of style and PR skills mean that he must have substance. When, in fact, his record is even worse than his presentation.

There were two moments in the interview that I thought were particularly revealing about the way Brown sees the world. On immigration, he said that the numbers of people coming here are ‘already lower in my view.’ The logic behind this seemed to be that he had pulled the policy levers and so the planned outcome must have followed and there’s no point debating it.  The second was on inheritance tax when Brown talked about the state giving the 3,000 richest families in the country something. But the state is, of course, not giving them anything. It is merely not taking. Brown’s mindset seems to be that everything is owed to the state and therefore the state’s to disperse.