Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Oh, sit down!


The speech should have started half an hour before and the crowd were starting to get a bit impatient – so to entertain themselves they sang and danced to the rousing music playing in the hall.

Conference songs are supposed to embody the party spirit – think M-People’s Moving On Up – but for some reason the 90s indie hit Sit Down had sneaked its way into the play list.

It seemed cheery enough until large portions of the crowd began to sing along to the lines: “Those who feel the breath of sadness sit down next to me, those who feel they’re touched by madness sit down next to me, those who find themselves ridiculous sit down next to me…”

After a few embarrassed laughs they did all sit down.

Cue Sarah Brown to introduce a video which was meant to show how Labour had improved Britain since the Tories ruled.

It started with videos of police beating back rioters and burning buildings before the film took the viewer into a bright white light – symbolising the 1997 victory I suppose – and on the other side were pictures of kids eating fruit and nurses.

Three things key to the speech were the attempt to define the lines between Tory and Labour, the attempt to define Gordon from anyone else and the attempt to create the clear direction that everyone has been crying out for.

That direction it seems is fairness – the word or some form of it was mentioned no less than 37 times.

To be fair, the PM was very fair in his speech – giving a mention to just about everyone, including all his cabinet, who were working hard to make things better for kids, parents, families, teachers, nurses, soldiers, employees, workers, business and everyone who New Labour need to vote for them.

Then it was Tory-bashing time. His voice took an almost pantomime sinister edge as he said: “When the salesmen wont tell you what they’re selling, it’s because they are selling something no-one should buy.”

It was no time, he explained, for a novice to be running the country – a jibe overtly aimed at Cameron, but also perhaps at light-weights closer to home.

The Scot then went on in an odd warbling voice, as if he might cry, to practically accuse the Conservatives of stealing from babies.

This was, all in all, the same old Gordon with the same old hand movements – the double karate chop and the better known ‘flat-hand-thumb-sticking-up’ – the same odd air gulping thing he does and the same incorrect pronunciation, “revolyoution” and “transpearency”.

What felt different was that he was talking to a room full of people that were listening and clapping.

Parliamentary Correspondent

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