Perhaps the main topic of speculation at this year’s Labour Conference has been what will be the reaction to Gordon’s speech. The speculation was pointless as what Gordon said and how he delivered it was always going to be pretty much irrelevant. The mood of delegates was to rally around and he was always guaranteed a standing ovation. Even the critics will turn out to praise it, as I type up pops Unite’s Derek Simpson, offering the predicted praise.
For me the best line was ‘"I am all in favour of apprenticeships, but let me tell you this is no time for a novice," which I’m fairly sure was aimed at young Mr Cameron as well as a certain Cabinet colleague!
The worst line was his ill-judged swipe at politicians who use their families to gain media coverage, saying: "My children aren’t props; they’re people." It was a childish attack on Cameron that simply demonstrated that Brown fails to get politics 2.0 and understand that it is 2008. It also jarred with his introduction by Sarah Brown â€“ either your family is part of you, or isn’t it. If you’re in public life, you don’t get to choose just because you want to boost your conference speech. That was crass.
Starting with the apology for the 10p tax rate was good.
On policy I liked the fact he restated the plan to extend free nursery places for all two-year-olds over the next 10 years. This is a clear point of difference with the Tories, showing how Labour is offering parents choice, where as Cameron thinks he can preach family values.
The computers and internet access for poorer families was another good announcement, although I think it could have been done with a bit more belief and enthusiasm. I’m not sure Gordon sounded convinced it was a good idea, which makes it more challenging to convince other sceptics.
And the free prescriptions for those suffering cancer is the right thing to do. The challenge for us loyal party members is to make sure that voters know it was Labour that did it.