Peter Hoskin

Is Brown the heir to Blair?

Is Brown the heir to Blair?
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James Purnell's clearly trying to set some Stakhanovite record for delivering soundbites today.  After the “full employment” claim on Marr this morning, he issues an even-more-startling declaration in today's Observer – that “Gordon Brown is clearly the heir to Blair”.

Whilst I'm sure Coffee-Housers will enjoy analysing which aspects of the Brown regime are a continuation of the Blair years, what Purnell's suggesting here is that Brown is developing the Blairite reform agenda.  And – just like the full employment claim – this is patently false.  Reform is being rolled back not forward – city academies are increasingly obliged to follow the national curriculum; funding for independent health centres is being cut back; and then there are new central targets in everything from housing to skills.

As I pointed out a few days ago, welfare is the only area in which reform is truly progressing.  This progress will continue tomorrow, with Brown set to back a series of welfare reform proposals which the the Tories have already put their weight behind.  So does this make Brown an inveterate reformer or a man playing political catch-up?  Maybe we can draw a conclusion from the fact that these very same welfare proposals were blocked by the Treasury when Mr. Blair was in No 10...