Reaction to Gordon Brown’s speech in the blogosphere has unsurprisingly split across party lines. Labour List‘s Alex Smith describes it as, “spinkled with rhetoric and substance and with nods to the left and the right, seems to have please everybody at party conference.” Sunder Katwala on Next Left says, “Gordon Brown’s speech seemed to me very effective in rallying the Labour party to fight the election like their lives depended on it.” Meanwhile, Coffee House say, “All very pantomine. And all very fun, I’m sure, for the party faithful. But what about those voters who are turning away from Labour in their droves? What was there for them?”
The answer may be the twin announcements on social care and childcare:
“And so for those with the highest needs we will now offer in their own homes free personal care … by reforming tax relief we will by the end of the next Parliament be able to give the parents of a quarter of a million two year olds free childcare for the first time.”
Iain Dale, quite fairly, asks “how it will be paid for.” The lobby are being told that the social care will come from £420 million of savings in the deparment of health while childcare is through the phasing out £200 million of Employer Supported Childcare tax relief that goes to higher rate tax payers.
Some announcements have pleased specific groups. 38 degrees sent an email to their membership saying, “Today, Gordon Brown announced plans for a Recall Law. We still don’t know all the details, but clearly this is huge progress.”
The biggest cheer from the hall for a single policy was arguably the announcement of a referendum, after the election, on the Alternative Vote. Lewis Baston of the Electoral Reform Society writes, “This is welcome, but can only be greeted by constitutional reformers with the very thinnest of smiles.”
The biggest row has come over Brown’s announcement that, “all 16 and 17 year old parents who get support from the taxpayer will be placed in a network of supervised homes.” Right wing bloggers immediately dubbed the policy “Gulags for slags” and claimed the policy was “taken from the BNP.” Single parent charity Gingerbread’s Chief Executive Fiona Weir said:
“Damaging myths abound about young parents, and it’s vital that politicians don’t reinforce these. Just three per cent of all births in 2007 (the latest available data) were to mothers under 18, and teenagers make up just two per cent of single parents. Far from ‘being handed the keys to a council flat’ young people under 18 are in fact not allowed to hold a tenancy.”
But in a week dominated by bad polls, the final word goes to YouGov. According to PolitcsHome, 63 per cent rate Brown’s speech as “good” or “excellent.”Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
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