Gordon Brown’s speech to members of CitizensUK was an attempt to re-assert the relevance of Labour to dissaffected voters who have recently swung to supporting the Liberal Democrats.

The background to the near-collpase in support for New Labour is its capitulation to global capital and the US imperialist project since Tony Blair spearheaded the ditching of Clause IV (which pledged support for public ownership) in the mid-1990s.

New Labour’s re-orientation to centrist politics (and some would say its inexorable slide to right-centrist policies such as backing ‘The War on Terror’) has made it culpable in global financial collapse and the spread of war throughout the Middle East.

Working class people are expected to pay the cost of such disastrous policy decisions as bailing out the banks and funding a war which the majority of the population is against.

In the context of such policies, Brown’s passionate (if sometimes garbled) appeal that ‘inequality should not be woven in to the fabric of our lives’ resonates hollowly.

Can we really believe that Gordon Brown is going to miraculously dismantle New Labour much like Blair dismantled ‘Old Labour’ when Brown bankrolled the war in Iraq and presided over the Exchequer for over a decade?

It’s hard not to see Brown’s speech as a way of preparing the ideological ground for the inevitable austerity package that will be thrust upon an already reeling working class not long after Thursday’s elections.

Brown’s speech may have been punctuated by ecstatic applause but playing to a crowd belonging to an organisation which aims to mobilise ‘the support of politicians, faith leaders, unions, business-people and hundreds of local organisations across the UK’ seems a bit like preaching the virtue of outdoor living to the scouts.

Brown’s speech was all about people uniting together, marching for change and the masses facilitating historical change. Big words but not a million miles away from Cameron’s “we’re all in this together” rhetoric which merely translates to ‘nobody’s to blame’.

David Cameron’s over-riding campaign message is something along the lines of ‘we will support those who can support themselves’, which is to say ‘each for their own’.

Although in contrast Brown’s message may be tempered with a pledge to create a ‘people’s bank’ (another bright idea from Mandelson’s bag of tricks) and keep child trust funds, it essentially reads as an appeal for ordinary people to ‘batten down the hatches’ in the face of impending onslaughts on the public sector.

Real and affective unity will have to come from a united working class placing pressure on whatever combination of political allegiances are thrown up on May 7th. CitizensUK’s perverse desire to see unions uniting with ‘business-people’ will only bring more neo-liberal disaster as evidenced by Blair’s zealous regime.

Although Brown’s rhetoric may play well to some of those who have undergone an apparent Clegg-conversion (indeed it’s a last ditch attempt to win them back by appealing to Old Labour ideals), but will make little impact on those who, after 13 years of betrayal, expect New Labour to carry on in the same old way.

Dan Poulton

Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner.  His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.