So, after 10 years and a roller-coaster political ride, we say goodbye to Prime Minister Blair, and hello Prime Minister Brown. Personally, I’m optimistic. I think we desperately need some new energy, vision and impetus in British political life, and I think Brown is the right man for the job.
What has been interesting though is Blair’s drift in belief. To paint in broad, caricatured strokes – it is well known that he wants to convert to Rome – he began a Protestant, committed to a highly personal drive of ‘whiter than white government’ and ‘ethical foreign policy’ – an almost Puritan agenda, and has drifted, personally as well as politically, towards a more Catholic position. Wanting to be an icon. Admiring the pomp, the finery, the rituals, the power… desperate for confession.
Blair, I feel, knows he has really screwed up on Iraq. What will be interesting will be whether he sets up this Middle East envoy task as something akin to his own political purgatory – working off his sins in order to restore his place to heaven.
Brown, even more than Blair, will be bringing his Protestant work ethic, and seemingly wearing it on his sleeve. He has just released a book of his father’s sermons. And, unlike Blair, appears more willing to ‘do God’.
Classically, Catholicism has been the grand and powerful institution of the church. And it has had to do some desperate spinning over some pretty horrific abuses. Blair too has been the king of spin. And Brown’s first job is going to have to be to try to restore some faith in the political system. Will he dissolve Parliament soon in order to do so? Perhaps here’s another Charles I ceding to Cromwell… Does Brown see himself as our Lord Protector?