Week 38: Hero – Gordon Brown

by Jackie_South on September 22, 2014

Scot_Lab_heroFormer PM Gordon Brown scoops our award to be recognised as last week’s greatest hero

This weekend, our panel’s deliberations on who should get our Hero of the Week award came down to a tussle between two heavyweights: in the blue ‘Yes’ corner was Alex Salmond, in the red ‘No’ corner was Gordon Brown: ex-first minister versus ex-prime minister. As in the vote last Friday, a close contest resulted in a Brown victory. (Salmond fans don’t despair too much – my guess is that he has a good chance of making it as one of our heroes of the year).

On the whole, the media seems to have given Brown’s decisive intervention in the last two weeks of the stalling Better Together campaign too little credit. He was brought in when that campaign seemed to be incapable of not tripping on its heels: after Alistair Darling’s masterly first debate with Salmond, his second misfired; the forays north of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg seemed to repel voters and underline Salmond’s message; the Yes side took a narrow lead in some polls. Momentum was clearly going independence’s way, with tracking polls showing previous Noes drifting towards Yes.

The Brown that spoke at the No rallies seemed like a man refreshed and energised. He was no longer the brooding Brown that sulked in Downing Street, this was a dynamic soapbox rouser, balancing passion, reason and credibility in a way that had been absent throughout both campaigns up till then, when Yes had most of the passion and No most of the reason. Only Brown was able to deliver Aristotle’s combination of Pathos, Ethos and Logos to the table. If Better Together had managed to back itself into a negative corner, Brown was able to burst through that to give a positive, passionate case for voting No.

Their voters, who might not have bothered otherwise, turned out in record numbers last Thursday to carry the day. Remember, the Yes vote was six hundred thousand greater than Labour’s last general election tally in Scotland. If under-motivated Nos had stayed at home and the 8% most polls showed as undecided had not made up their minds, we would now be contemplating the practicalities of dismantling the United Kingdom. It needed Brown’s speeches to save the Union.

But he did not just win the vote: he set out a cogent vision of Scotland’s future and used the licence given by Cameron, Miliband and Clegg’s ‘Vow’ to extend the scope of the devolution promise. Real power will be devolved to Scotland in a way that Cameron never wanted, as his decision not to allow a Devo-Max option on the ballot shows.

So, five years after saving the world economy, Gordon saved the country as we know it (and, less happily, Cameron’s career). Do not expect the media to laud him for it anytime soon. Brown will be a Prime Minister remembered more favourably by posterity than by his contemporaries.

Brown shaped history in a way that the rest of the Better Together campaigners were incapable of achieving, and which Salmond ultimately failed to. He has shown himself to be a giant in comparison to the minnows elsewhere in Parliament. He is a worthy Hero of the Week.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eddie Kaye September 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…enough said


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