(Great?) (white?) (hope?)

Let’s start again. Go on. Pretend 10 years didn’t just pass us by. (Only now the tune is called ‘Things Can Only Get Wetter’). It seems that Brown’s promotion brings with it a new optimism, refreshed and cleansed by the recent downpours that cleanse our Country of the stale history that would otherwise encrust this brave new world.

Don’t get me wrong, if Brown’s premiership consists of more than change for changes sake, great. If the tables, chairs and departments are reshuffled for something bigger than one man wanting to leave his stamp all over Whitehall and the rest of the Country, fine. And if we really are beginning to see signs of an ethical domestic policy, as the u-turn concerning super-casinos suggests, wonderful.

But lest we forget that Brown is not a "sleaze and spin"-free new member of Government, and this is not 1997. This man has been central to the New Labour machinations and the 2nd most powerful man in Government for 10 years. 10 years. And what of it? What do these 10 years tell us about Gordon Brown? He introduced the Working Tax Credit system. An arguably brilliant scheme to increase fair redistribution to the worst-off in society. The Working Tax Credit system was poorly executed and caused debt and misery to thousands of families. Many families are understandably scared to now claim the benefits they are entitled to, having had their fingers already burnt once.

He voted to cut student funding. He voted for identity cards. He voted for the Iraq war. Four times.

I make no assumptions about the politicking that went on behind the scenes when he may have been forced to compromise into backing decisions he may or may not have agreed with, and defending policies he may not have believed in. But the point is that he did back those decisions, he did defend those policies, and he did cast those votes.

So what’s the issue here? That he made ethically questionable decisions? It’s more than that, I think. Even if Brown only made certain decisions as a means to an end (and that end has now arrived; his premiership), his hands remain dirty. Morality is not simply based on what one does during a neatly defined period of their life. It’s the whole picture. And however dirty was Brown’s rise to his current position, it must be considered in the final weighing-up of his effect on our Country.

Obviously, the point of this article is not to write off Brown’s influence as Prime Minister before it has even started. As I have already said, if there are genuine and socially beneficial changes brought about at his behest, so much the better for it. But it should not be examined in the vacuum of his time as head honcho, ignoring the last 10 years in which Brown played an integral role in many of fundamental issues that have defined New Labour and their period in power to date. Finally, the awkwardly uncomfortable elephant in the room: at what point do the ends not justify the means? At what point does the dirt on Brown’s hands taint anything he ever does from no on, in office as Prime Minister? Has his chapter, therefore, already closed?

Responses welcome.

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