Thursday, 27 September 2007

Gordon's Gazza Strip

I've been too busy working to think at length about Gordon Brown's speech and his emphasis on Britishness - was it 71 or 72 references?

But the debate in the Welsh blogosphere is alive and kicking. Some think it's a direct response to May's elections. That may be true but Britishness has been a consistent theme of Brown's for a year or more - long before he became Prime Minister.

He's even been known to praise Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland in Euro '96 - something few of his compatriots would have the stomach to do.

The emphasis on Britishness may reflect his sensitivity about any possible English backlash to the idea of a Scot deciding public services in non-devolved England while his own constituents have their schools and hospitals run by an SNP devolved government.

Brown needs English votes to remain PM and is engaging in a far from subtle attempt to win over former Tory voters. (Bournemouth was abuzz with speculation about imminent defections by Conservative MPs.)

So Brown continues to bang on about Britishness - and has been encouraging members of his Cabinet to take up the theme.

Peter Hain needed little hesitation to join in. Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan talked about "shared British values". One of those in the running to succeed him, Carwyn Jones, impressed MPs by talking up unionism at a conference fringe meeting. (A few future leadership votes in the bag there).

There is a danger for Brown that the Britishness appeal may backfire in England. As Frank Field has suggested, every time he opens his mouth to stress his Britishness he inadvertently reminds English voters of his Scottishness.

1 comment:

JohnN said...

Gordan is obsessed with Britishness. I think maybe he is worried about Salmond or more likely the West Lothian question.

The Scots shouldn't be voting on our issues.