THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
It's "Gordon Brown Week" at the Last Ditch
Gordon Brown and "Britain"

Is Gordon Brown a post-Communist?

Appearance and reality have rarely diverged so far in British politics as of late. The Labour Party of Blears and Prescott could easily have portrayed itself as the trade union stooge of old. The people were the same. The policies differed only in a shocking new authoritarianism designed to triangulate Conservative voters from the traditional party of Laura Norder. Yet the party chose to present itself as something new and has been accepted as such.

The New Labour "project" has been such an unqualified political success the the Conservative leadership feels there is no choice but to copy it. Yet it has never been more than a "rebranding" exercise, conceived largely by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. No-one who knows anything of either of them, could conceive of Blair as the intellectual leader in that.

Brown was always the senior partner. Blair's empty-headed charm pleased the cameras, but the ideas behind the Project were Brown's. Brown is a political obsessive. From the campaigning newspaper he founded with his brother, through his PhD on the History of the Scottish Labour Party, through his career in student politics to his only "honest job" as a political researcher for Scottish TV, he appears never to have thought of anything else. There was nothing "New Labour" about him when he edited and contributed to the Red Paper on Scotland 30 years ago, in which he trumpeted the historical inevitability of the victory of Socialism.

Brown’s own contribution condemned “the gross inequalities which disfigure Scottish life”, and argued that the times cried out for “a new commitment to socialist ideals”. He urged “a coherent strategy” of reforms designed “to cancel the logic of capitalism” and to lead “us out of one social order into another”. This would involve “a phased extension of public control under workers’ self-management and the prioritising of social needs by the communities themselves”. He called for “a planned economy” and for “workers’ power”, identifying himself with “Scotland’s socialist pioneers, Hardie, Smillie, Maxton, Maclean, Gallacher, Wheatley and others”—a pantheon that included both revolutionary and reformist socialists. What was needed was “a positive commitment to creating a socialist society”.9

(Source: International Journal of Socialism)

A man should be allowed his errors in youth. Though there was much that was psychologically revealing in Brown's career in student politics (not least his monumentally-vain demand for an official holiday for students when he stepped down as Rector of Edinburgh University) it would be unfair to judge him from those days. But the Red Paper was the first work of his maturity.

Apart from understanding the need to "sell" ideas in a democracy, it is hard to see how Brown has developed politically since those days. Leftists may feel that in shedding the Marxist jargon, wearing a suit and changing his presentation Brown has betrayed his younger self. It seems more likely that he has developed a more sophisticated style in order to win the power he has craved since his youth. Despite all the talk of "prudence" and his taking the credit for a solid period of economic growth driven by globalisation, his record as Chancellor is very "Old Labour"

According to the OECD UK taxation has increased from a 39.3% share of GDP in 1997 to 42.4% in 2006, going to a higher level than Germany.[18] This increase has mainly been attributed to active government policy, and not simply to the growing economy.


By their fruits, ye shall know them. For all the New Labour branding, Brown has taxed and spent like every Labour Chancellor before him, just as one might have expected the editor of the Red Paper to do. There has been a boom in public sector employment. This, during a period of strong economic growth when the private sector might have been expected to grow strongly. The jobs New Labour boasts of having created are largely non-jobs funded by the taxpayer. Or, as Wat Tyler has pointed out in relation to public sector pensions, as yet unfunded. If pension liabilities to the employees on the burgeoning state payroll are counted (as they should be) as debts, the National Debt is three times what the Government claims. So much for "prudence". The party's claimed success in reducing unemployment has, a recent study has shown (as anyone from areas of high non-employment already knew from everyday observation) been "a work of fiction."

Brown has been a bog-standard Labour Chancellor. He is a shrewd politician and has associated himself consistently (and falsely) with the concept of "Prudence." From the opinion polls since he became Prime Minister, it seems that the voters have fallen for it. How long before the scales fall from their eyes?