The Emperor's real clothes
He may be chancellor, architect of new Labour and prime minister in waiting, but Brown is foremost a Scottish Labour MP. A biographer of the great Red Clydeside hero James Maxton, he is marbled with the passions and instincts of the Scottish Labour party.
For anyone living south of the border, this poses some uneasy questions: just how far removed from the needs and instincts of middle England are the needs and instincts of socialist Fife? Can Brown truly claim to be equally in tune with both? And when he becomes prime minister, which instinct will be to the fore?
To see what government might look like were Brown’s instincts given full throttle, one need only look north of the border. Scottish Labour governs there without the compromises new Labour deems necessary in England.....
Scots pay a heavy price for such ideological Labour purity.One in 10 Scots seeking treatment at accident and emergency departments waits more than four hours to be seen. This compares with one in 20 in England. While waiting times have shortened dramatically in England in recent years, in Scotland they have actually lengthened in some cases. The lack of modernisation means the vast sum of money pouring into the Scottish NHS — spending on health is 20% higher per head than in England — is having less impact.
Scottish education, once revered around the world, is unable to deliver even the basics to young Scots. Take, for example, a primary school’s ability to send more than 50% of its children to high school with the basic requirements in reading, writing and arithmetic. In Glasgow more than half of the city’s primary schools are failing to reach even this undemanding standard.
....Brown does not like to talk about England. He prefers to talk about Britain. The problem is there is no such thing as a British education system or health service. Once Brown becomes prime minister he will have no responsibility for Scottish health and education, which are the preserve of the Holyrood parliament in Edinburgh. Brown will be in charge of English schools and hospitals, which because of Blairite reforms are very different to the statist institutions found in Fife.
If Brown does carry on down the Blairite path in England it will be because he deems it politically necessary, not because his heart is in it. It will not chime with his deepest convictions. In a very real sense, and for all his talk of a new definition of Britishness, Brown will be governing a foreign country.