Peter Hoskin

Return of the Gord

Return of the Gord
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Oh look, the Old Crowd are moving in on the New Generation's patch. Not only has David Miliband broken his post-defeat silence with an engaging little article in the Mail on Sunday, but we also have news that Gordon Brown is to make his first Commons speech since the general election. That's right, after 174 paid days of, erm, indiscernible activity, Gordon will tomorrow insist that maintenance on Britain's two new aircraft carriers should be carried out on a Scottish shipyard, rather than in France. Everyone else is surprised that he didn't get that written into the contracts already.

The return of the Gord throws up some questions for Ed Miliband. It's not just the speech tomorrow, but rather the release of our former Prime Minister's book on 7 December. How will Labour respond to it? Will they agree with its prescriptions for the post-crash world? Will they step pointedly back from Brownonomics? Or will they simply just ignore it? In terms of how Labour sees itself – and wants to project itself – it could be a very telling moment, just as when Tony Blair's book was greeted with more enthusiasm by the Tories than by the new Labour leader.

I do wonder whether Miliband was warming up for Brown's return with his speech in Scotland last week. As I noted on Friday, it began with a lengthy and warm tribute to our former PM, which went some way beyond the brief platitudes usually wheeled out on these occasions. Here's the passage in full. Brown probably didn't expect to be talked of like this, so soon after the dark days of May:

"Coming back to Scotland reminds me of the many occasions I have come here with the person I worked with for a number of years – Gordon Brown.

He taught me many things about Scotland and about politics.

It was my privilege to work with him to help win those first Scottish Parliament elections.

He has an incredible legacy: he improved the lives of millions of people here and around the world.

I am proud to call him my friend. We should pay tribute today to Gordon Brown for his leadership of our party and our country."