UK politics is becoming more American. The last election has only just been fought but the next is already well underway. Last week it was William Hague versus Tony Blair at the despatch box and Gordon Brown was accelerating his campaign to lead the Labour Party, and country. This week William Hague has turned his firepower on Mr Brown. The Tories’ acting leader has used a speech to Policy Exchange (Nicholas Boles’ think tank) to ridicule Project Gordon:
"Gordon Brown appears to worry whether he and the country are on the same wavelength. He knows that the country preferred Tony Blair to him as leader of the Labour Party, and saw him as not quite right for the job in 1994. There are worries that the sort of person who could edit the Red Paper on Scotland, and who once called for the massive extension of state power to advance a socialist utopia, may not be the best person to lead a competitive market economy. To meet these worries and concerns the Chancellor, in recent weeks, has been dropping names and swapping costumes. They call it Project Gordon. He’s let us know that he’s now a friend of Alan Greenspan and Bill Gates – to try and prove that he’s got over his resentment of capitalism. More touchingly he’s been wearing Ralph Lauren-style shirts and Tom Cruise-style flying helmets. Let me give him a word of advice based on personal experience: headgear and party leadership don’t go well together. But this superficial makeover does not, and cannot, alter the Chancellor’s essential make-up. The qualities of left-wing thinking I discussed earlier – the tendency to channel, control, organise, direct and boss in conformity with dogma and in a way which inhibits growth and change – are central to Gordon Brown’s way of operating."
Later in his speech – which is almost wholly dedicated to Brown’s failings – William Hague directs some substantial questions towards the Chancellor:
"On the central debate about how we equip the next generation for the rigours of competition in the 21st century we have equivocation, prevarication and endless, endless repetition. Oh, how we’d love to have some detail. For just a minute. But the Chancellor prefers to duck these future challenges.
Should independent providers supply more than 15% of NHS care? Silence.
Should poorly performing police officers continue to be able to enjoy generous protection for their failings? Silence.
Should the new trust schools be encouraged to form links with business to help get new funding from the private sector into education? Silence."