Waiting for Gordo

Posted on: 01 November 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Former PM Gordon Brown returns to Parliament to speak Monday night in support of the much-maligned aircraft carrier deal and safeguarding British jobs

HMS DaringShipyard jobs are under threat near Brown's Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency and the former PM will argue they should stay in Rosyth when he speaks on a Labour MP's motion examining options for the maintenance of the two aircraft carriers spared by the defence review. At risk are 50-year maintenance contracts on HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which could be offered to France.

The former PM has kept a low profile since his general election defeat to the Lib/Con coalition, indeed the vanquished New Labour architect was absent from most of the summer shenanigans between the Milibands et al. Brown's withdrawal from front line politics offered his critics plenty of time to pick over his bones: David Cameron, among others, criticised him for failing to meet the Commons to justify the mess in which he had left the nation's finances.

Mr Cameron's crowing performances are all the stronger for hindsight, but few would argue that when the UK teetered on the brink of financial meltdown, it was Brown's speed of action and counter measures that assured stability was regained even though our debt and exposures were worse than those of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal – Europe's most serious casualties during the downturn.

Indeed, Brown's initiative was used as a template by many of the major EU states, France and Germany included.

So what has he been up to these past five months? Book writing! It is to be hoped that a serious work on the origins of the global financial crash will be the result of his time in self imposed political exile, rather than following the lead of Lord Mandelson and Tony Blair, who shamelessly hawked their memoirs. Though even they fall short of the mercenary antics of one famous ebayer who sold the signature of the latter via the online auction site.

Brown is a skilled speaker and what he lacked in charisma at the dispatch box he invariably made up for in the robustness of his argument. However, the £5.4bn aircraft carriers deal, which George Osborne's team have struggled, thus far, vainly to free themselves from is one policy decision that he wil have dificulty justifying.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin insists Brown should apologise for signing off the aircraft carriers deal with such prohibitive clauses: "His appearance in this debate shows that his decision to order the aircraft carriers was always about protecting his own interests rather than the national interest," he said.

Whether he classes himself as a backbench politician or not, Brown's forays into Parliament will always be front page news.

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