07 November 2007

Gordon Brown's Political Vision mid-1950s - 2007

The death of Gordon Brown's Political Vision has come as a grave shock to all those who knew it and as a particular cause of grief to those members of the Labour Party who once held it up as a beacon of hope in a world of political ennui.

It would be impossible to recount the stirring tales that have been told of the Political Vision, many of them by the Prime Minister himself. It was a vast and noble thing, encompassing everything from the fate of the planet, nay the universe itself, all the way down to the tears of a single child born in poverty and even taking in the complex machinery of post neo-classical endogenous growth theory on the way. Thanks to its prodigious strength and mighty intellectual force, those who walked beside it - or perhaps it were better to say, "those who walked in its shadow" - could do so without fear that any harm might come to them.

The Political Vision was born on the knee of Mr Brown's own father, the Church of Scotland minister Dr John Brown, who lectured his son even as he dandled him in his hands, reminding the wee Gordon of his duty to his fellow man, to remember that many a muckle makes a mickle and - as the Prime Minister himself recalled - "to treat everyone equally" (whether Dr Brown added that "everyone" did not include either young Muslims suspected of terrorism or the super-rich is sadly unknown).

Throughout his time at university, and on into his early life in politics, Gordon was to cleave to his Political Vision. He was often seen parading it in public, whether as editor of The Red Paper on Scotland or as a rising young star of the Labour Shadow Cabinet of the 1980s and early 1990s. Gordon Brown's Political Vision took in all it surveyed: it was for fairness to all, hard work and duty, it stood for the poor against the rich and the downtrodden against the privileged.

It was in 1994 that the Political Vision was to suffer the tragic accident that would affect it for the rest of its life, running into the sharp end of Tony Blair's butter knife in the dim lighting of a fashionable North London restaurant. This accident, it would appear, left the Political Vision so hideously scarred that it fled the political stage, leaving it to the rival - we are assured inferior - vision of the young Tony Blair.

For years, Gordon Brown's Political Vision haunted the Labour Party - only bursting from the shadows at Budget time or during the party conference season, when its shocking appearance served both to remind the Labour party of the glories it had once been promised and to send a shiver down the spine of Mr Blair. Indeed, it was only with Mr Blair's own political death - tragically crushed under a large political machine that had somehow worked itself loose - that Mr Brown, and his Political Vision - emerged once more.

The years of isolation had clearly taken their toll. The Political Vision - so long masked from view - turned out to be a pale and paltry thing, little different from the vision of Mr Blair or - indeed - Tory leader David Cameron. As it stepped fully into the light with its first Queen's Speech, Gordon Brown's Political Vision crumbled into a ragbag of bills to detain people without trial, build on green belt and a bit of fiddling round the edges with school leaving ages, waste disposal charges and parental leave, all wholly ununited by any overarching theme.

Gordon Brown's Political Vision will be scattered by a light breeze. Mourners are asked to send donations to offshore tax havens.