Daily catch-up: Labour historian Gordon Brown’s great prowl-and-persuade speech

The former leader’s appeal to Labour members and supporters to was impressive but probably won’t do enough to divert the flood

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I enjoyed the former Prime Minister’s speech yesterday, including the way his walk up and down synchronised with the rising and falling of a fairground merry-go-round behind him, with the clock of Big Ben and the unobservable turning of the London Eye, also in the background, providing a sarcastic meta-commentary about the passing of time.

The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown provided a transcript of the unscripted speech with commendable speed, but unfortunately it left out some of the best lines, including the one about voting in the Labour leadership election not being like “liking” someone on Facebook.

This came just after: “Our vote is rightly in private but it cannot just be a private act. It is about a public service.”

It also left out this elaboration: “John Smith said, ‘I want the opportunity to serve;’ he didn’t say, ‘I want the opportunity to make a song and dance.’”

(A video of the whole thing is here.)

Anyway, a good speech, which might persuade a handful of people. I think Brown was right not to mention Jeremy Corbyn by name. His meaning was clear in this passage:

“Let me say: there is nothing progressive about being powerless. If our duty is to find a pathway back to power to advance our priorities – and yet we find that the grouping in the party that Labour electors want to give the most votes to is the grouping they themselves say is least likely to be able to take Labour into power – then I have to ask you to look at the lessons we have to learn from our history.”

Corbyn’s followers are delicate flowers, and if Brown had named him they would have accused him of making a personal attack. That the internet is awash with Cybernistas using foul misogynist and anti-Semitic language to attack the other candidates is beside Brown’s point, which is to do whatever he can to get those who can be persuaded to see the counter-productive folly of voting for Corbyn.

• Unfortunately, it is all too late, as was Peter Mandelson’s alleged plan to persuade all three reality-based candidates to pull out, and the anonymous grandee’s plan to persuade Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper to withdraw in favour of Andy Burnham as having the best chance of stopping Corbyn (the two women pull out to leave an all-male contest? – brilliant idea).

Corbyn has almost certainly won, as I wrote in The Independent on Sunday yesterday, trying to analyse why I had got it so wrong (“He’ll come fourth”).

• My Top 10 in The New Review, the Independent on Sunday magazine, yesterday was Zeugmas. A zeugma is a figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses, such as this from Vergil (thanks to Graham Kirby): Aeneas tulit dolorem et patrem Troia. “He carried his grief and his father from Troy.” Book II, Aeneid.

• And finally, thanks to Charlotte ‏for this from last month:

“My dad used to say, ‘Ah but can you have Wensleydale on a Tuesliday?’

“Every time.”