Although I disagree with most of his policies, I do think Gordon Brown is a good person. Most particularly I think he was most effective in the TV debates when he was talking about taking steps to alleviate poverty. I have no doubt that his commitment to social justice is genuine, heartfelt and commendable.
I was pondering that when thinking about the smearing he had to endure yesterday, as a result of his rude comments about Mrs Duffy. First off, let’s acknowledge that much of the drive to smear him comes from a Murdoch-driven agenda to get the Conservatives into power and thereby reduce the power of the BBC (something I very much oppose). Having said that, I do think that the episode reveals something of the mental framework of our governing class which is worth bringing into the light.
Rather similar to Obama’s comments about ‘clinging to guns and religion’ what the comment reveals is a commitment to the ‘vision of the anointed’, ie that the governing class has a better, more elevated understanding of the needs and priorities facing a country than do the ordinary people who live in the country. There is then an inevitable process of perception management (spin) to try and disguise the tension generated by seeking the approval and votes of people with whom you disagree. Occasionally the mask slips.
In contrast to this, for all sorts of theological and practical reasons, I think the most essential task is to return power to the local level so far as possible, in order to encourage people to take responsibility for their own lives. In their different ways, LibDems, Greens and Conservatives are all pursuing that objective. I hope that, whatever the actual outcome, there will be a reversal of the centralisation of power that has proceeded under both styles of government for the last few generations.