Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Brown to Labour: "think big, fight hard" and what all these pledges mean for Scotland

First draw - that was a solid speech, freighted with pledges, plenty for Labour to promise Britain radical "change" at the next election but probably not enough to persuade anyone to change their mind about Gordon Brown.

I score Brown low on performance, he is not a great platform speaker, but feel the weight of that speech when it came to policy.

People wanted to count the number of times he said change, about 50 is an estimate, to distinguish himself from the Tories. Forget that, count the number of promises (but bear in mind that we have to check now that they haven't been announced beforehand).

No compulsory ID cards - at first sight a huge U turn, symbolic and economic and will delight libertarians, but Alan Johnson said as much back in June.

Beating cancer in a generation. Resources to fund cancer research. A pledge to have diagnostic results within a week, an England and Wales pledge only. Don't see how Scotland can't match the same level of care.

Referendum on Alternative Voting system for Westminster - radical but not truly proportional representation. Would maintain the constituency link.

An elected second chamber replacing the Lords

A right to recall MPs , a Lib Dem idea, if they break the law.

A National Care Service for the elderly, out in a green paper on care reform and will only apply in England

Free personal care, not universal as in Scotland, for those with the highest needs.

Recreating the Post Office as a bank in the community.

Continued investment in schools, England again. (When I write England there will be Barnett consequentials for Scotland that the parliament can spend how it chooses).

Continued rises in the National Minimum wage

Legal restrictions on the banking industry.

Supervised homes for single teenage mothers (England only, Labour wants the same in Scotland).

Drink banning orders (England only, SNP trying to tackle this with minimum pricing)

He may not have changed people’s opinions of Gordon Brown with that speech - when it came to rhetoric it was only average. But Gordon Brown gave the Labour party something to fight the election with, a reason to go on.

“Think big and fight hard,” is what he said. That was a virtual manifesto he delivered so the thinking bit is done. The fight for all that change is, as he said himself, against the odds.

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