Gordon’s IN


Yesterday I went to hear Gordon Brown talk in Leicester as a part of the Labour In campaign. I’m glad I did.

You might think that Gordon Brown is a bit of a miserable guy, grumpy and lacking in humour – well, I’m sure he can be, but yesterday he sparkled. Maybe it’s the freedom that comes from being an ex-PM that makes him look rather happy these days.

I notice that a tired old Guardian journalist (well actually I don’t know his age or his state of physical well-being) with whom I shared a train back to Kettering (in my case, he, of course was rushing back to the safety of London) reckoned that Gordon wasn’t firing on all cylinders but that’s not what the audience thought. Sure, if you’ve heard Gordon speak scores of times before (as a toGj) then you might just have heard some of the stories before (blimey – if you’ve heard me talk about grouse shooting then you might hear the same lines over and over again, and please sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting) but for most of the people there it was a treat.

The speech did major on the fact that the world is a dangerous and difficult place and that being together, working together, internationally and regardless of creed, colour, gender, sexual persuasion, was vital, and that voting #Brexit made that far more difficult.  The audience lapped it up in multicultural Leicester, and yes, the line about the importance of staying in Europe for Leicester City FC was a very good one actually.

The argument that the EU has set a floor for workers’ rights and environmental standards was well made. The importance of working within the EU to tackle climate change was a good nod towards the environmental agenda – can you imagine where a post-Brexit Tory climate-sceptic English government would take us?  And the idea that the North Sea could be a source of shared EU renewable energy if we work together was very well made, and is absolutely relevant as other EU countries (and Norway) signed an agreement on this last week but the UK was absent.

The media just wanted to ask about immigration, and Leicester is a strange place to do that.  Person after person stressed the fact that Leicester was a city working together across all boundaries.  But it is an interesting question – if you have to be borderline-racist and xenophobic to win a #Remain vote do those ends justify those means?

There is no doubt that Gordon Brown is the finest Labour ex-PM alive – though that isn’t difficult, it is only a two-horse race.




7 Replies to “Gordon’s IN”

  1. What is increasingly emerging from this disastrous political debate is people loading all their frustrations onto the EU – most of which have absolutely nothing to do with the EU at all. If we’re becoming ‘overcrowded’ why not look at the record of a guy who could have, but did not, use his unique position to do something about the biggest symptom of ‘overcrowding’ – housing. Remember Boris Johnson as Mayor of London ?

    And it was fascinating, if depressing, watching people in Cornwall all for out – because they don’t like the English – and really, seriously believing that Westminster will do more to help their lagging economy than the EU – which almost every businessman featured said had helped with investment.

    Then there were fishermen – and they probably do have a point; the Common Fisheries policy has been pretty bad for them, even worse for the fish – but far more people work (and may not be working if we exit) in American banks than in fishing.

    saddest of all is that the people most inclined to vote ‘Out’ are those likely to suffer most. And they can be quite, quite sure that Michael, Boris and Nigel most definitely won’t be ‘in it together’ with them.

  2. ..”can you imagine where a post-Brexit Tory climate-sceptic English government would take us? “..I very much doubt that he said that…the bit about “an english government” that is. This is the man who couldnt now get elected to a local council anywhere in Scotland, due to his siding with those same Tories during the scottish independence campaign..and his espousal of the lying “Vow” that appeared just before the vote in 2014.

    He may well be pushing the correct line on the EU referendum…but he will never be forgiven for abandoning our chance to have our own forward looking, socially and environmentally responsible independent government and country.

    1. Dave – you might be about to have another chance if the English take us out of the EU.

      Do you know any cheap houses for sale in parts of Scotland with nesting Hen Harriers.

      Might be looking for somewhere.

  3. If he’d properly called out the Racist Woman in the election he lost then we’d probably have avoided a lot of this. His apology to her for calling her racist views racist was when Labour lost control of the political narrative over immigration.

  4. Very interesting – and pleasing and re-assuring – to read this positive account from someone who was there and sounding balanced and genuine in contrast to any sketch in my normally trusted Guardian. But isn’t the biggest Euro debate about security, about the security of not having neighbours in civil war (Bosnia recently and Spain not that long ago) nor ruled by a dictatorship of Colnels (Greece into the 70’s) nor an Eastern bloc in hoc to Russia – isn’t that why we wanted them in Europe, the surest undermining of the Cold War? Not to mention two world wars within close memory for many. One of my grandfathers was born in 1869. Little over fifty years before, a couple of generations (or just a generation in my family) France had been at war with Britain. Isn’t a collective Europe about sharing prosperity and achieving a common good so that our aims for the environment (for example) are espoused across the sub-continent and vice versa. And ensuring we are not all at competitive loggerheads where someone stronger thinks it’s clever to take advantage.

  5. Couldn’t agree with you more Arne – we seem to have forgotten that peace is not a given, and is more important than economics, house prices, immigration etc etc

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