In a chaotic, heckler-interrupted speech to leftish political activists, Gordon Brown reminds everyone why he ever mattered in the first place:
It’s a performance from another era. It would seem less out of place on yellowed film stock from the 1960s. It’s a dark harangue, steeped in class-war rhetoric, and there is something glorious about it. The only time I heard Brown address a party rally, more than six years ago, I called him “more Old Testament than Old Labour.” That’s why he was such a torment to Tony Blair: during Labour’s great strategic shift, Brown kept sounding as though the old ways were better. That kind of message always has a ready audience in any party, maybe more than it should, but that’s just human nature.
One more thing: Passed in the polls by one and sometimes two other parties, facing the end of the only career he ever had with only hours to go, Brown offers barely a word about his opponents. “Please allow me to testify to you today to what I believe and to tell you who I am,” he says, and then he does just that.
I won’t much mind when political change comes to Britain on Thursday. Sometimes it’s just time, and the objective results of the Labour years are too mixed to withstand strong alternatives. But this is why I still like Gordon Brown: because there’s something real at the centre of him.
UPDATE: A Day later, using a TelePrompter and delivering a very different kind of speech:
Paul Martin never gave this speech, nothing like it, never once, not ever. In the end, at least, Gordon Brown embraces everything that happened while his party was in power, instead of denying what happened while his predecessor was Prime Minister. It may not save Labour, but it heals it.