Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed his supporters at the Labour party conference in Brighton today.
Of course, he was preaching to the converted – the audience was almost entirely Labour party members so they would be expected to cheer and hang on his every word, but it was impressive nonetheless. He steered a strong path, positioning the Labour party far to the left of David Cameron’s Conservatives. Clearly, the Labour party has finally woken up – they needed to position themselves as more caring in an environment where people are losing jobs and homes in a recession, and Brown’s speech pushed forward a very distinctive – caring – Labour agenda.
He distanced the government from the financial meltdown, blaming the bankers and associating their free market attitudes with the Conservative opposition who called for a very different ‘hands-off’ approach to the crash in 2007. As Northern Rock collapsed, the Conservatives were still looking to the market for a solution.
He directly commented on his eyes – a subject of much discussion this week – by saying that the NHS is the best insurance policy in the world… his eyesight was saved by the NHS and he dealt with the issue of his health well by taking it head-on.
Fairness, caring, and responsibility echoed throughout this speech, but what he really gave back to the Labour party was hope. Hope that David Cameron may not be the next Prime Minister from 2010. Hope that it’s not all over for a tired Labour party. And hope that despite the setback of the international banking crisis, there has been a very long list of social achievements by this government.
No matter that many people are bored of the Labour government and many people just want a change, the differences between the parties are now growing wider and the Labour party is finally dealing with the assumption that it’s all over for them. They are not dead yet because they are finally staking a claim to the kind of social agenda that people want to see as the country tentatively exits a recession.
Labour is still down, but not yet out.