Was at the Fabian conference on Saturday – where else? The mood was upbeat and you’ll have heard by now that the morning turn billed as “Senior Cabinet Minister TBC” on the advance publicity turned out to be Gordon Brown. For a minute I thought his section about how Labour supports aspiration for “a bigger house, foreign holiday, new car” sounded like the opening passage from the film Trainspotting* but it was all good stuff. New Labour was always as much about middle England and economic efficiency as well as social justice and the natural Labour heartlands. Away from the PM’s speech (which you can watch here), comments made at the “future of the left” session were most memorable.
There seemed to be a recognition that although the Tories are ahead in the polls Cameron has not sealed the deal yet and that in the glare of the media debates he could collapse compared to the heavyweight PM whose thing is policy detail. There is not the same 1997 tide of enthusisam for what was essentially a “one man band” Conservative campaign – NB Cameron’s vomit-inducing 15 foot mugshot on the approach to the Chiswick roundabout has finally been removed as of this morning I am happy to report.
Mary Ridell of the Torygraph got the biggest cheer for remarking “Labour is nothing if not a party of the poor and dispossessed”. Professor John Curtice seemed to be worrying that if Brown’s middle class appeal was followed through to its logical conclusion, of the class that the Labour party was founded on would wither and die. Perhaps it’s fairer to say it is changing. I saw no cloth caps and whippets on Satrurday; not that I was expecting to. Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw was asked whether the middle class strategy was what was extracted from Brown by the non-core vote approach cabinet members in return for them not backing the “lost the plot” aborted coup the other day? He denied that there were two factions in government and gave an alternative answer: “perhaps it was because he was talking to the Fabian Society?”
* PS Cannot find Trainspotting intro in English but here it is in French. He’s saying: Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.