The Spectator

The Brown Era Begins

The Brown Era Begins
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 I love how Gordon Brown walked on stage, as if he’d just won a vote of some kind. “I will endeavour to justify every day the trust you have placed in me,” – err no, Gordon, you successfully scared off all your rivals, there was no vote and folk were just landed with you. Anyway, it seems Harman will be party chair rather than Deputy Prime Minister – ergo no executive power, ergo whatever she thinks about government doesn’t matter a jot. Wee Dougie Alexander is back as election co-ordinator (he was rudely ousted in 2004). And Brown’s making references to cross-party co-operation. “we reaching out to all people who can be persuaded to share our values”


It’s striking how many rhetorical devices Brown borrows from America. The habit of ending a speech by repeating a mantra several times (in his case ‘we will meet the challenge” six times) is a favourite trick from US conventions. Like Clinton, he has soft Biblical allusions (everyone one of us has a "talent”, “where there is injustice”). Then Lincoln “better angels of our nature” and, of course, publishing a book about courage like JFK.


Funny to see Harman, whose day it really was, having to move off the stage to make way for Mr and Mrs Brown. She’d better get used to it.