What to do about Gordon?
The former PM is like a worthy but boring uncle calling for regional devolution no one wants
What to do about Gordon Brown? Just as the Scottish Labour Party was looking like a contender in Scotland - it currently has only one MP - here comes the great clunking fist to remind voters about 2014, the Vow and his Better Together alliance with the Tories. He’s like the worthy but boring uncle who keeps turning up at family gatherings, draining the joy from the occasion by hogging the conversation. But Brown never gives up.
The Vow, inspired by Brown, and signed by the Tory PM David Cameron and the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, was the last-minute promise to Scots that if they voted to stay in the UK they would get greater autonomy - the “nearest thing to federalism” that is possible in a unitary state. To be fair, Brown probably meant it. He’s been trying ever since to drum up some enthusiasm for federalism which never quite ignites. And as I explain his plans for a new Assembly of the Nations and Regions raises as many problems as it solves.
Beown set up a think tank Our Scottish Future to explore constitutional reform, and finally published his blueprint for a sort of UK federalism he envisages in January 2023. This week he staged a rally in Edinburgh to launch his new “Alliance for Radical Democratic Change” which apparently has the support of the Welsh FM, Mark Drakeford, and the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, and is calling for - well, what exactly?
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