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'The real Gordon'

Brian Taylor | 17:01 UK time, Tuesday, 23 September 2008

There has been a slightly surreal atmosphere here at the Labour conference in Manchester.

Indeed, one delegate suggested to me that perhaps the Large Hadron Collider had actually obliterated the planet, tipping the party had into a parallel universe - one in which the economy was fine and Labour was reviving in the polls.

Gordon Brown's speech returned them to earth. This was a serious, sober-minded assessment of the party's problems and challenges.

I sought a response from Scots MPs and MSPs afterwards. All praised the performance warmly. Some seemed relieved.

One called it "the real Gordon". One said the dissenters should now "shut up". One sounded surprised that the conference had passed without more trouble.

One suggested, wryly, that the PM might now care to repeat the message, personally, on the streets of Glenrothes.

From Scottish Labour, formally, an intriguing message: again, I feel sure, a portent of more to come.

Government 'failings'

In a minor blizzard of news releases, sundry Labour MSPs suggested that the SNP might care to match, for Scotland, the PM's announcements in devolved areas for England: including crime, nursery care and the rest.

I suppose the SNP might now respond that the PM should, for example, go further than he did in his speech and offer the objective of entirely free prescriptions.

To be frank, I am not sure this is an entirely productive line of argument. It is reasonable for Labour to point out what they believe to be failings in the Scottish Government's programme.

But demanding the implementation of each and every announcement that affects England rather vitiates the concept of devolved power.


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