By: Daniel King, Student Voices writer
The Great Clunking Fist is back, unleashing the forces of hell against the Leave campaign in this EU Referendum debate. Striding across stages whilst delivering a series of barnstorming speeches, Gordon Brown has well and truly entered the debate over the European question this week. It is true that many will just ignore his pronouncements; he is still largely associated with the financial crash and the nation’s overbloated public finances in the years prior to the 2010 election. However, even as a supporter of his successor in Government, his arguments for remaining within the European Union resonated with me to a substantially larger degree than anything coming out of the Conservative High Command in Whitehall. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it is time we all shut out the voices from Downing Street and instead listen to the most unpopular Prime Minister in recent history: Mr Brown.
Since the British people deprived him of continuing in the highest office in the land, Gordon Brown has actually gone through what is arguably his golden years in politics. Nobody in Scotland can ever forget the rousing political sermon he delivered on the eve of that divisive Independence vote (some even go as far as saying that his materialisation into the debate secured the Better Together campaign’s fairly comfortable victory) and the significant role he played in ensuring that the Scottish Parliament would be guaranteed substantial tax and welfare powers in the event of a “no” vote. When the Labour Party were in crisis mode last summer over the popularity of leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, and figures from Tony Blair to David Miliband were being wheeled out to disparage him, it was Gordon Brown who provided the reasoned, moderate and statesmanlike arguments against the policies of the radical left-winger. His success out of office (where he has finally looked comfortable in his own skin) has led many to comment that Gordon would, ironically, now make an excellent Labour Party leader and Prime Minister.
His entry into the so-far embarrassing and degrading European Referendum debate proves that he understands the motivations behind many voters, and not just those that would religiously vote Labour. In the week that David Cameron predicted the return of conflict between European nations in the event of Brexit (does he think voters are that stupid?), Gordon Brown led the patriotic argument for voting to remain within the EU. “It is not British to retreat to Europe’s side-lines” the son of the manse boomed, and he continued saying “it is not in tune with the Churchillian spirit to disengage”. Not one politician in the Remain camp has managed to articulate an emotional argument for a European Union as sophistically or intelligently as Gordon Brown. Just as during the Independence Referendum he reminded voters that it was not the Scottish way to break every tie with our neighbours south of the border, so too in this referendum he has argued that it is not the British way to abandon the system of cooperation with our neighbours across the Channel. The mention of “Britishness” and what constitutes “British values” in the world should become a central plank of the Stronger In campaign in order to reclaim any notions of patriotism from the Leave camp. Much of the electorate are proud of their British identity and would vote to smash our partnership with Europe on the reasoning that our country’s destiny should be in our hands. To counteract this, the remain camp needs to follow Gordon Brown’s lead and portray a vote for staying in as a confirmation of our country’s ambition in Europe and the world. Failure to do this and a relentless focus on economics (which is a vital but uninspiring argument) could result in a narrow victory for a Leave campaign full of self-serving and egotistical politicians who have no idea what the vision for a Britain out with the European Union could be.
Yes, Gordon Brown has considerable flaws and I would be the first to criticise many of his decisions as Prime Minister. However, on this issue he is key to persuading voters to support Britain’s membership of the EU with pride. Saving the world? Well, he isn’t there yet. Saving the Remain campaign? He just might.
Saving the World with Gordon Brown Reviewed by Student Voices on 10:23 Rating: