08 August 2006

Gordon Brown posing as a "conservative"

According to Rachel Sylvester in today's Daily Telegraph, Gordon Brown could be considered a neo-con. What this appears to refer to is the fact that Brown is being repackaged by his spindoctors for broad electoral appeal. How do you reassure people who see you as a tub-thumping interventionist? By seeming to be sympathetic to conservative viewpoints.

The Chancellor is fascinated by the writings of neo-conservative thinkers. They chime with his view that politics should be a means for change, that governments should not just be rational organisations, doing "what works", but also agents for change promoting a clear moral view of the world.

The book that has most captured Mr Brown's imagination recently is "The Roads to Modernity" by Gertrude Himmelfarb. It argues that the British Enlightenment was more admirable than the French one because it emphasised the importance of values, such as benevolence and compassion, as well as of reason.
Himmelfarb is best known as a conservative thinker sympathetic to the anti-statist and libertarian views of J.S. Mill, among others. A rather strange ideological bedfellow for Gordon Brown, one might think. If one can take this blatant piece of PR spin seriously in the first place.

Purlease. Brown is even more of a statist than Blair. He thinks the problems of New Labour can be addressed by having even more intervention, financed by even higher taxes. Brown dislikes consumerism in public services. In other words, he wants more paternalistic control by "experts".

If "neo-con" comes to stand for "even more state than the left", God help us all.