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>"break the Westminster mould"
every time I read this I break down laughing.
(The SDP declared that they were going to "Break the mould", and the only thing they actually achieved was breaking David Owen.)
Brown was the more human of the two. (Ironic, contrasting how he and Blair connected with people via TV, etc.) There's a wonderful (far left, but still) article I should look up somewhere that puts it in good terms, regardless of politics. The tl;dr version is that Blair never really had to make an effort to move away from "Old Labour" because he was never really part of it, while even in the late 1980s Gordon Brown was writing about how awful inequality and greed were. Blair was always on the winning team, Brown had to make a conscious decision to move over, and then when he did it he was still bounced out of his position as PM-designate by Blair. Years of wounded plotting later, he gets the thing he'd coveted for so long, given up everything for - and immediately everything goes to shit.
Blair was more slick, which endeared people to him while he was on top, but just make people distrustful now that he's in the PR-gutter.
First question: Pragmatic in pursuit of what? To dig up an old question - what would Blair put first, country or party? That's not an empty question when you're playing pragmatic politics. Not that it matters much since Blair was rarely actually pragmatic or compromising on either. He was an ideologue - an ideologue in the right place at the right time, but an ideologue all the same. He believed in something, both in terms of a political project for the country and in terms of where he wanted the Labour party to be.
The peak of this as relates to the country has to be the collapse of Railtrack. Long after it was apparent to everyone that Railtrack as a private sector entity was completely beyond salvation, deceased, bankrupt, dead, an ex-company which has ceased to be, the Blair government continued to try and prop it up because (a) they genuinely believed the market could do a better job than the state, ignoring the market had just caused one of the most amusing fuckups in anorak history and (b) they didn't want to look like old Labour by bringing something into state ownership. Now you can say "oh, in the end we got Network Rail. See, Pragmatism!" but that's bollocks. It's not pragmatism if you only do the right thing because every other option has vanished. (A poorer example I feel I should still raise would be when he said he wouldn't want to win on Corbyn's manifesto because it'd be bad for the country - if the electorate will vote for a manifesto promising magic beans and you're acting in the pragmatic interest of the party, you bean those fuckers.)
Tony Blair wasn't Helen Clark (a more pragmatic contemporary) or even Harold Wilson (certainly a more pragmatic party manager). He wouldn't turn to left-wing policy solutions where they clashed with the thrust of his government, but would probably have desirable overall results (as Clark did with the renationalisation of Air New Zealand, or creation of Kiwibank), nor did he compromise with the party left despite personal or political animosity (As Wilson did with Benn.) in pursuit of unity, or perhaps with hindsight more important - his own legacy. Instead, the political story of the day was the struggle to compromise with a chancellor who was as near to an ideological twin as you could find.* None of this means he was a bad prime minister, but the characterisation as a great pragmatist is a fantasy of the chattering classes. The mild irony of all I've said is that it runs against the lazy Blair caricature of a man with no principles, who'd pivot to Stalinism tomorrow if it'd make people like him again, or who'd take up arms against Corbyn because it's the right thing to do. No, he was a man with an ideology. Which I suppose is a good thing, British talk of wanting pragmatic government in the national interest is always bollocks, and the SDP died on that hill twice to prove it.
>Gordon Brown on the other hand imbues the greatest of left wing party rhetoric
are you like the last person on earth to still do the Tony Blair v. Gordon Brown feud thing?
*isn't it funny how Brown is imagined as the left-wing one? I mean, I understand it in terms of party tradition, where he came from, etc. But then you look at the NHS funding increase, where Blair was willing to go for a big spending increase while Brown was (as is the nature of Treasury) more cautious. Then angry, very very ANGERY