Brown on the Mound

IF Gordon Brown was a better Prime Minister of a better Britain, then his speech yesterday at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would have been a historic triumph.

What his speech confirmed was the gulf between the world Brown inhabits and the world where most people live. He ludicrously aped Martin Luther King urging the country “to honour the dream of the scriptures: that justice will roll like water and righteousness like a mighty stream”.

The opportunity to contrast his world view with that of Margaret Thatcher in her famous Sermon on the Mound proved too great to resist. This was an occasion for Brown to have set forth his core values. He reminded his audience for the umpteenth time that his moral compass was given him by his father.

He claimed that he would save the world, abolish illiteracy and give every child the right to education. He would eradicate tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, malaria, on the way to eradicating HIV/Aids.

Such ambition was startling and faintly absurd, even in an assembly of people used to overblown rhetoric. Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP Deputy First Minister, was surely right to suggest another sort of moral equivalence between Brown’s speech and Thatcher’s sermon.

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