Saturday, May 24, 2008

History repeating itself

Gordon Brown's current predicament does have a historical parallel. In Australia in the 1990s Paul Keating - finance minsiter - grew impatient of waiting for Bob Hawke - a popular election winning Labour leader - to step aside despite a mate's agreement that he would do so.

Keating did become PM, he also had the balls to challenge Hawke for the job and won it. His was a prickly period in office where he lacked the touch of his more popular predecessor. Amazingly though, and against all the odds, he won the 1993 election - even though there was uncomfortable economic turmoil. His victory speech is an amazing piece of oratory, starting with the line: "this is the sweetest victory of all", going on to hail the "true believers" in the Australian way.

I can't see Gordon Brown having that sweet taste. Just more sourness. The Australian Tories - The Liberal Party - were still in a state of some flux - John Howard only went on to revive the party nationally after this defeat in 1995.

I was having a chat about all of this last Tuesday with Alan Gilbert, an Australian in Manchester, a fascinating character with a great wit and a wonderful grasp of people and issues.

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