Perhaps I'm living in a parallel universe. According to today's papers, Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour Party conference yesterday was a tour de force. From what I saw of it, Brown delivered a typically wooden address, awkwardly mumbling a half-hearted mea culpa for the 10p tax debacle. Moreover, the synthetic soundbites about "fairness" left this cynical ex-Trot spitting his disdain. By the way, what is the political relevance of having Brown's wife introduce him?
What was also ridiculous (sometimes hilariously) was the almost North Korean alacrity with which the conference rose to their feet in acclamation of third-rate rhetoric which would hardly have merited a ripple of applause at Labour conferences in the 70s & 80s.
Today's Guardian quotes the reaction of some MPs & union leaders to the speech (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/24/labourconference.speeches ).
In stark contrast to opinions aired just a fortnight ago at the TUC, reaction from at least two union leaders is so effusive as to warrant the adjective, Janus-faced. Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Unite, gushes, "His recognition of the turmoil in the markets, action for families, children and the elderly and his determination to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, all show he is on the side of hardworking families. Gordon is an injury time winner. Labour can now go on to win the league at the next election."
The phrase "hardworking families" must be the most irritating & vacous in politics. Does it mean, by implication, that single people who work full-time are shirkers in comparison to their married & cohabiting colleagues? But I digress. Far from Brown scoring "an injury time winner", as Simpson claims, he aimed a long ball upfield to no one in particular with his team three goals down in the final twenty minutes.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison, glows, "He did what every party member wanted him to do - turn his guns on the Tories."
Not quite, Dave, there was that "no time for a novice" jibe aimed as much at David Miliband as David Cameron & there's no point disputing it.
The only note of scepticism, amidst an orgy of hero-worship from Labour MPs & Cabinet ministers, comes from the former Tribune editor, Mark Seddon.