The Prime Minister’s press conference yesterday has aroused much media comment about the gap between his declaration of paternally derived honesty and the apparent lack of it in his denial that he’d ever intended to sack the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
But one thing that did come across as much more honest than perhaps even he realises, was his further confirmation that he has abandoned the language of New Labour.
Five years ago, when Brown and his cronies were briefing away about getting rid of Tony Blair, I wrote a piece (HERE) suggesting they were mistaken, and included the line ‘Blair and Brown were co-architects of New Labour, even though Brown now seems obsessed with deleting the phrase from his vocabulary.'
Nor was it just the phrase ‘New Labour’ that Brown stopped using all those years ago. Another is the phrase ‘public investment’.
Shortly after Tony Blair’s second election victory, I met one of his closest aides at a conference. As a student of language and communication, I had been intrigued by the way in which he and everyone else in the party had, since the birth of ‘New Labour’, only talked about ‘public investment’, ‘investment’ in health, education, social services, etc., but never mentioned the once more usual term ‘public expenditure’.
So I asked him if this preference for the word ‘investment’ was a deliberate ploy because it sounded more respectable and less worrying than words like ‘spending’ and ‘expenditure’ – to which he replied “Of course it is”.
But under Gordan Brown this key term in the original language of ‘New Labour’ has disappeared as completely as the phrase ‘New Labour’ itself.
As you can see in the following extracts from Mr Brown’s press conference yesterday, he is as relaxed in talking about public ‘expenditure’ as he is in boasting about it as an unquestionable virtue.
On this, at least, his performance arguably displayed a refreshing degree of honesty .