Polly Toynbee’s column today is brilliant, but futile: “Gordon Brown can at last emerge a hero, by giving a resignation speech at the party conference” – but it’s not going to happen, is it?
Still, she provides a couple of reminders as to why the election of a Conservative government next year will be a tragedy for this country, as the Gordon Brown from her alternative universe – the one in which he has the courage to call inevitability’s bluff – tells his audience:
Make no mistake, had David Cameron and George Osborne been in power to do what they proposed, the catastrophe doesn’t bear thinking about. With ATM machines within hours of shutting down, the Conservatives urged us to do nothing, spend nothing, laissez-faire and let it happen. Supermarket shelves would have emptied in a chaos of panic. To spend money then was to invest in saving us all, and the debts we incurred were a price well worth paying. Had we not spent that money, the cost of total collapse would have been unimaginably higher.
And, more positively, an affirmation of social democracy as a means of providing things that improve life for all of us:
Ask yourselves what you value most in life. Most precious are those things we can only purchase together: health, education, safety in the streets, fine public spaces, parks, museums, sports grounds and beautiful public buildings. No shop sells anything we prize so highly. Don’t let all these good public things descend again into the petty squalor of the 1980s and 1990s for the sake of a few more pounds in your pocket. The small state is the squalid state, penny-pinching, mean-spirited and devoid of things that make a country proud.