Brown’s rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting

The prime minister has a moral and political conviction the like of which we haven’t quite seen from him in this campaign. He has three days to make it count.

Our guest writer is Anthony Painter, who blogs at www.anthonypainter.co.uk

Multi-faith choirs, organiser testimony, Chinese dragons, biblical readings, cheering, feet stamping, hand shaking, politics, campaigning and celebratory affirmation- welcome to the Church of Civil Society that is Citizens UK – the group all three party leaders arrived to ‘engage in authentic political conversation’ this afternoon in London’s Methodist Central Hall.

The UN General Assembly first met in this building. And today was civil society’s General Assembly and it was every bit as effervescent as you would hope and expect.

The objective for Citizens UK – the national umbrella for citizens’ community organising movements such as London Citizens – was simple. They intended to ratify, via a formal vote, a general election manifesto and then get the three main party leaders to agree on the six policies within it. Everything was done democratically from the election of the platform panel to agreeing the manifesto itself.

Citizens UK, ‘we, the people’, called on the next Government to:

• Recognise civil society and agree to an annual meeting with Citizens UK.

• Adopt the living wage in the public sector and champion it across the country.

• Create a 20% interest rate cap on all unsecured money loans and bring access to affordable credit to local communities.

• End the detention of children in immigration centres.

• Facilitate affordable owner-occupied housing through community land trusts.

• Introduce a one-off, conditional, ‘earned regularisation’ for long-term irregular migrants (i.e. a so-called amnesty.)

David Cameron’s speech was high on ‘big society’ rhetoric but fairly flat until he got onto the meat of the Citizens UK manifesto. His best line was his conviction that he would fight the cynics who say “it’s just me and the Government, not we and the community”. On the pledges he got a 4 out of 6.

He gave half commitments on the living wage (a commission to look at pay inequality in the public sector) and promised to look at detention of children in asylum centres. He refused to countenance a one-off, conditional amnesty for irregular immigrants – bizarrely sticking to a ‘they encourage illegal immigration’ line.

His performance at the questions and answers was warmly received and his argument that credit unions needed to be developed and established before you cap interest rates otherwise you push people into the arms of unscrupulous doorstep lenders was well made.

Nick Clegg was exciting delegates even before he had spoken. His speech was much more powerful than David Cameron’s. His constant equation of liberalism and fairness was consistent and clear. He was able to agree to 5 of the 6 policy demands – he used his policy of increasing of the personal tax allowance to £10,000 and extension of minimum wages to young workers as a defensive block against introducing the living wage.

And on immigration he was absolutely clear that his party’s policy of introducing a ten year one-off amnesty was about fairness – only ‘evil criminals’ who prey on vulnerable illegal immigrants had anything to fear.

But it was Gordon Brown who soared in this environment. He was enthusiastically received from the off. The audience sensed an authenticity and passion in his speech. There was real conviction. Community organising is about testimony and the prime minister gave testimony as a ‘son of the manse.’

His flourishing rhetoric read the mood of exaltation in the room to perfection. His peroration was powerful. The speech had some truly inspirational moments; “if you fight for fairness, you have a friend, a partner and a brother in me,” Brown said.

He finished with an imploration:

“Let’s march.”

And despite the fact that he only agreed to 3.5 out of 5 items in the Citizens UK manifesto (he wasn’t asked about the immigration amnesty), he left to a standing ovation from most and enthusiastic applause from the remainder.

On the evidence of this remarkable afternoon, civil society is vibrant, messy, optimistic, powerful, brilliantly organised and inspirational. And the prime minister has a moral and political conviction the like of which we haven’t quite seen from him in this campaign. He has less than three days to make it count.

UPDATE:

Political Scrapbook has the video.

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35 Responses to “Brown’s rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting”

  1. Gillian Duffy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting: http://bit.ly/92ae7w

  2. Quietzapple

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  3. Donovan Clarkson

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  4. Iain Murray

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  5. Gareth Partington

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  6. Ben Cooper

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  8. paulstpancras

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  9. Andrew Harbison

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  10. Andy Reed

    Brown’s rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting http://is.gd/bSFj5 – bet it gets no coverage in the media at all!! #mediafail

  11. Anthony Painter

    I've written up an account of today's incredible @citizensuk leaders' speeches event for @leftfootfwd. http://j.mp/aNd0Ta

  12. Julia Ault

    RT @leftfootfwd: Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting http://bit.ly/92ae7w

  13. CathElliott

    RT @anthonypainter: I've written an account of today's incredible @citizensuk leaders' speeches event for @leftfootfwd. http://j.mp/aNd0Ta

  14. Leon Green

    RT @anthonypainter I've written up an account of today's incredible @citizensuk leaders' speeches event for @leftfootfwd. http://j.mp/aNd0Ta

  15. David Christie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting: http://bit.ly/92ae7w

  16. Rik Moran

    RT @leftfootfwd: Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting: http://bit.ly/92ae7w

  17. Jo Cox

    RT @anthonypainter: I've written up an account of today's incredible @citizensuk leaders' speeches event for @leftfootfwd. http://j.mp/aNd0Ta

  18. Gordon Brown’s impassioned speech to Citizens UK | Political Scrapbook

    […] 22:08 See also Anthony Painter’s post on Left Foot Forward. Share With Friends var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Gordon Brown’s […]

  19. Gordon O'Neill

    RT @anthonypainter: I've written up an account of today's incredible @citizensuk leaders' speeches event [email protected] http://j.mp/aNd0Ta

  20. Luke H

    Gordon Brown’s speech in full to Citixen UK – London

  21. Anon E Mouse

    And?

  22. Will Straw

    This is a bit rich, Anon. You go on and on and on about our negative coverage of Tory policy and when we do a piece on what was a genuinely inspirational Labour/GB performance you sound like you can’t be bothered. If you just want to come on here and let off steam, be our guest, but don’t accuse of us of not being constructive!

  23. Anon E Mouse

    Will – My point is that all the candidates got a good reception but that is lost on the writer of your article by the questions asked by members in the hall.

    They treated Cameron as the next PM by what they asked. Now one can argue it’s good to be on the side that’s winning but in any event Labour still languish in third place and that is a terrible position to be in.

    Brown came across very well but saying what? Yes he wasn’t negative which is good but considering Labour now has no newspaper in this country supporting them he needed to have done more than that. (The Mirror employs Kevin McGuire so it doesn’t count!)

    Too little too late I’m afraid Will. Sorry to be blunt but I’m right and you’re wrong where Brown is concerned and whilst I accept the concept of loyalty to a leader, people like yourself and other grass roots Labour supporters should have listened to the likes of Frank Field and NEVER accepted Brown as leader without a ballot in the Labour Party.

    The speech was delivered in an impressive manner but said nothing we didn’t know already and as for helping Labour it’s simply too little too late.

    When the phoenix rises from the ashes next week you may choose to listen to more critics of Labour policy from people like me and less from some of the excuse merchants who post on this blog.

    btw Can I please have my Mac at home unblocked so I can post after work – especially with Thursday rapidly approaching it’s not fair on me and although you may not agree with my views (your loss) I am never impolite.

  24. Call me Dave

    Cameron Expenses
    So this is the man who quite soon will be asking us all to make sacrifices fort the good of the nation, most likely in the form of higher taxes, pay cuts, lost jobs, reduced pensions. The same man who according to the Telegraph “paid off a loan on his London house after he took out a taxpayer-funded £350,000 mortgage on his designated second home”.

    Watch him squirm as Paxman grills him on the subject of politicians ‘over claiming’. Absolutely hilarious! So have a good laugh now and spread the good news because very soon the joke will be on us!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_d2__jB5j4

  25. Politics Summary: Monday, May 4th | Left Foot Forward

    […] of the campaign, and one of the best of his career, in a passionate appeal for fairness. To a rousing reception and several standing ovations at the Citizens UK conference in Methodist Central Hall he said: […]

  26. Anon E Mouse

    Call Me Dave – As opposed to Brown who charged £12000 in cash, to his brother, with no receipts for cleaning a flat he didn’t even live in while we pay for two homes for him…

    They’re all the same I’m afraid – look at Nick Clegg fleecing the EU (our money) for £380 thousand for a house abroad…

    Nice work if you can get it…

  27. Jennifer Painter

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  28. The Daily Gad Fly

    OK! We like this! RT @leftfootfwd: Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting http://bit.ly/92ae7w

  29. Lynda Waltho

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  30. Thomas Knowles

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  31. CITIZENS UK ELECTION ASSEMBLY: REACTIONS | Citizens UK

    […] Painter at Left Foot Forward is also exuberant. “On the evidence of this remarkable afternoon, civil society is vibrant, […]

  32. Press Reactions « CITIZENS UK Blog

    […] Painter at Left Foot Forward is also exuberant. "On the evidence of this remarkable afternoon, civil society is vibrant, messy, […]

  33. LC

    Brown's rapturous reception at Citizens UK meeting | Left Foot Forward http://is.gd/bSFj5

  34. Alexander Mitchell

    When Labour looks back on that speech, they will go why didn’t we shape our campaign on his ability to come across as progressive, modern, smart, capable and passionate. If he had been as firey as that Clegg and Cameron would have been blown out of the water. As we now look at the outcome of this election, Labour have missed out, but perhaps a Liberal involvement in Cabinet or a substantial alliance with the Conservatives may mitigate the possible effects of Tory policies. Hopefully, the party will regroup and come together and allow this parliament to commence. Brown I expect will step down gracefully when or if Cameron can present a strong enough government, at that point I hope he remains leader of Labour until September’s conference season. At which point he step down, and Labour have a debate on who it’s leader and deputy leader should be, make the choice and stick with it through to the next election and build on the manifesto of 2010. Propose a thoroughly social democratic and progressive policy agenda that puts light between the Labour party and the other two. Hopefully, this means that in the next general election, which I expect to be between 2013 and 2014, they can push forward, reenergised and make their case to the nation. Hopefully they drop the term New Labour as well. After last night clearly that will no longer work.

  35. Daniel

    bunch of socialists, get a grip on reality

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