Gordon Brown’s barnstorming speech in defence of the Union

17th September, 2014 1:23 pm

Gordon Brown’s speech this lunchtime has already been heaped with praise as ranking among his best – and it only finished an hour ago.

If you have thirteen minutes to spare today, watch this:

“When young men were injured in these wars, they didn’t look to each other and ask whether you were Scots or English; they came to each others’ aid because they were part of a common cause. And we not only won these wars together; we won the peace together. We built the health service together. We built the welfare state together. We will build the future together.

And what we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder ever.”

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  • Ben Cobley

    I confess I’ve been pretty dismissive of Gordon Brown in the last few years: the
    ‘great clunking fist’, sitting in his bunker, bitter and twisted – probably a caricature with some truth to it. But he just bounced back and kicked my weasly arse, along with many other much more sizeable arses.

    On a personal level, I have always considered myself British, but this referendum has made me reconsider and think about Englishness a lot more – no bad thing. But I do really appreciate Gordon Brown talking about us down south as “friends” with whom the Scots should show “solidarity”. That moves me, and I also think it’s an example of true leadership. Well done the man, and all power to his elbow.


    • Ben Cobley

      As Brown said in his speech, Scotland fought two World Wars as a part of the United Kingdom. In the Second World War, we fought tyranny together, alone (albeit with help from wonderful Poles, Czechs, French etc who had escaped from Fortress Europe, and Commonwealth volunteers). Would that have happened if Scotland was independent, with different interests to the rest of the United Kingdom? The political situation was already on a knife-edge; any extra political weakness would surely have pushed us over the edge.

      Reginald Mitchell was born in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire. He invented perhaps the most famous (and also perhaps the most beautiful) aircraft in history, the Spitfire. It appeared in large numbers just in time for the Battle of Britain, NOT the Battle of England. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38qhL-BbNK8

      • gunnerbear

        As King Salmond has said ‘the past doesn’t matter’ – we’re done. if the Scots want a divorce f**k ’em and if they decide to stay fair enough but make sure each area of England gets precisely the same amount of cash the Scots are soaking up. And if Scotland stays in the UK – two choices – they either charge all UK students nothing to attend Scots Uni’s or everyone pays the cash.

        • treborc1

          Well that a good old fashioned Tory View,

          • gunnerbear

            No – when it comes to charging Uni. students, that’s an EU view. Discrimination in fees within a nation is acceptable – discrimination between EU students from different countries is not! So the Scots as a foreign country in the EU either charge everyone for attending Uni. or make it free for all to attend. It’s all part of the EU membership rules.

  • Equality across the United Kingdom. LOL. English parliament? Barnett Formula?

    The man is an anglophobic bigot.

  • Harry

    it was an excellent, excellent speech. If unionism and solidarity wins out over separatism tomorrow it will go down as his greatest – and indeed the greatest in British politics of recent times.

  • Nick London

    Blimey, someone make that man prime minister.

    • treborc1

      yes of England they need him

    • gunnerbear

      Yeah..we gave the Scots fool a go and we’re still paying for his pension raids and selling off the gold cheaply……..,

  • treborc1

    When young men were injured in these wars, they didn’t look
    to each other and ask whether you were Scots or English; they came to
    each others’ aid because they were part of a common cause. And we not
    only won these wars together; we won the peace together. We built the
    health service together. We built the welfare state together. We will
    build the future together.

    And what we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder ever.”

    Interesting Brown stated the two big wars and not his and Blair’s.

    Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan
    veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital
    visit and refused to speak to him.

    More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in
    Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately
    avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present.

    The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in
    Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of

    Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their
    injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an
    unwanted affair … he has done nothing for us.”

    Funny how labour always talks about old labour but actually told us we are not old labour we are new labour and now Miliband states we are not old labour we are not New labour but then reminds us that old labour did so much good.

    Who tried to end the welfare state with both UNUM Provident and ATOS and that great socialist Lord Freud. Who agree at first what the Tories were doing was OK with labour ATOS PIP’s and the new benefit regime it was Labour or should I say Progress ,

    Which party stated they did not mind the private sector entering into the NHS. who told us single mothers would be better off in what can only be called work houses, who had a battle with the Tories to decide when a mother should go back to work after having a child labour said when the child was ten the Tories did not agree and labour said five and when that did not do it labour thought one year was about right.

    Sorry but not me I do not fall so easy for Brown speeches.

    How quick this man forgets or maybe he doing so much he cannot remember.

    • DanFilson

      You don’t think there is both courage and decency in visiting in hospital the men wounded in combat following decisions made by him and others? He would have been criticised if he hadn’t. Unlike Mrs Thatcher who blocked the attendance of wounded soldiers in wheelchairs from the St.Paul’s Cathedral service following the Falkland War, Gordon Brown was acknowledging responsibility for the wounded soldiers. Of course there will have been those in pain who were unwilling to meet him and the pack of journalists in tow. That is understandable, but don’t attribute base motives on this account to Brown for paying the decency of a hospital visit.

  • gunnerbear

    Gordon Brown – “Trust me now ’cause I’m a Scots c**t desperate for votes and to keep Labour subsidy junkies afloat in Scotland even though I f**ked over the pensions and sold the gold of way below market value………” “Trust me – I’m Gordo the Ungreat – f**king he English for years………”

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    A very powerful and convincing speech especially on the economic side. However, despite its brilliance the speech, as with so much of the no campaign, resorted to raising fears in peoples’ minds.

  • Robert Leslie

    Gordon, that was one hell of a speech! And you clearly meant it – solidarity, mutuality, common cause for working people against the machinations of international capital. Nationalism doesn’t liberate the working class – socialism does! You sounded like the socialist I always thought you to be – you even quoted Marx!
    I cannot forget, or forgive, the Iraq debacle but I might just be able to move on from it if I could hear a little more tub-thumping socialism from the Labour Party! Where have you been hiding for the last four years Gordon? Get out there and get on the stump and we can send the Tories packing!

    • Nick London

      I thought the Marx quote was a bit rich coming from Gordon however!

      • Robert Leslie

        Hi Nick, I don’t think we should surprised that Gordon quoted that particular passage of The Communist Manifesto. Gordon, with Tax Credits in particular, was a redistributive Chancellor. Remember that it was his archest enemy Mandelson who was ‘totally relaxed about people getting filthy rich’. Gordon’s agenda was, and is, quite different.

        • Nick London

          Well he could have done more on the redistribution front, but i take your point he was not a blairite, which is no bad thing. Hope he stands for first minister.

  • Robert_Crosby

    Gordon Brown made some mistakes as Chancellor and Prime Minister because anyone would. The difference between him and Cameron was that he had taken his own shortcomings on board and had the answers to the global crash.

    More pointedly, Brown is a good man of sound principles. His moral compass is intact. It is a crying shame that many in Labour have conspired for so long in the promulgation of anti-Brown mythology. He is more than a match for the demagogue Salmond and I just hope that the media coverage of this great speech (a match for his performance at Citizens UK in 2010) has not come too late.

    • KenKaunda

      I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for Gordon Brown and this speech just confirms my belief that he is a great politician.

      It makes me laugh when people whinge on about the Westminster elite and the plastic politics that we endure now. We had a real Prime Minister but people were happy to slag him off and run him down, yes he made mistakes, but that’s what human beings do. If anyone thinks that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are the answer to our problems they’re fools. There is no land of milk and honey.

      They’re as plastic as David Cameron or Tony Blair, their closest advisers are two a penny PR men and we’re consigned to more of the same and worse. Gordon Brown is a Titan next to the fools we suffer now and I’d not hesitate to have him as Prime Minister again tomorrow – wharts ‘n all he’s greater than them all put together.

      • treborc1

        Dear god Brown a great leader, the playing of games to try and get to the big seat during a war the shortages of equipment the use of second rate material the shortage of helicopters and Brown playing games to force Blair out.

        Short memories you Blair-ites have.

    • David Lewis

      It was not a global crash and he had no answers which is why Labour lost so many votes in the subsequent general election.

      I do wonder what he’s up though. He never does nowt for nowt.

      • Robert_Crosby

        Laughable and wrong from start to finish.

        • David Lewis

          Still believing Brown’s lies?

          The banking crisis was more or less confined to Europe and the USA. It did not effect any of the commonwealth countries, The Middle East, The Far East,or Scandinavia.

          Most of the actual trading of the securitised sub-prime American mortgage bundles happened in the city Of London.

          Since you did not know this, a good book to read is `The Big Short’ by Michael Lewis.

          t goes into the history and mechanics and politics of the banking crisis in minute detail.

          • Robert_Crosby

            Labour made mistakes on regulation of banking and financial services and Brown has to shoulder significant responsibility for that. His book reflected an acceptance of that and he puts forward meaningful solutions to address the mistakes that he and others made.

            The Tories in particular, of course, argued for less regulation even than that established by New Labour. Neither they nor the Liberal Democrats have done anything to reform The City… in fact, they have presided over a reinforcement of the same mistakes, including a return to inflated bonuses for speculators and property bubbles.

            Generalising regarding other countries whose circumstances, economic profiles and cultures often contrast markedly with ours don’t really shed any light on the problems we still face or the measures we need to adopt.

            Criticism of Brown is legitimate but he is more credible than Cameron – and certainly than Farage and his cronies.

          • David Lewis

            I do not believe, for all his many sins, Brown and Balls were culpable in the question of the banking crisis. It was insidious, and so complex, very few people understood it – even most of those who were trading the bundles.

            Layer upon layer of software algorithms based upon layers of assumptions, each layer more questionable than the one before.

            Regulation would definitely not have seen it coming.

          • Robert_Crosby

            I don’t know what have in mind when you refer to his ” many sins”, but I do think he made a major error in his treatment of financial institutions. If you help to create conditions within which it’s possible for some to abuse their positions and affect so many others in such an adverse fashion, then you shouldn’t be surprised when they live down to low expectations.

          • David Lewis

            It is much worse than that but it would be wrong to blame the terrible two for the banking crisis.

          • Robert_Crosby

            I firmly believe that if you have something to say, then you should say it. I can’t be bothered with cryptic discourse.

          • David Lewis

            Yes me too.

            Browns speech was full of tautology, half truths and lies. He’s back!

    • gunnerbear

      Moral compass – the same man that called a voter a bigot because he disagreed with her views on immigration. Hasn’t Labour’s plans to throw the door open to all and sundry from the EU been such a good thing as the Press reports that the chap wanted in connection with a 14 year old girl committed murder in Lithuania. Labour politicians – letting your children be raped andmurderers into the country.

      • Robert_Crosby

        Your language is as casual and reckless as Mrs Duffy’s was that day. He was right to criticise her for it. She had every right to raise the issue but many, many people will take issue with her over her language.

        Your post – and especially the last vile line contained in it – say everything about the kind of person that you are.

        • gunnerbear

          That’s right isn’t it, in the eyes of some on the Left, anyone pointing out the faults in policy are the vile ones – not the vile scum committing the crimes. Any surprise that people are turning their backs on the major parties and Labour is s**ttin’ itself about future votes in Rotherham etc.According to you, GB had every right to attack the voter….if that is the case, if he was so sure of his ground…why did he come crawling back and offer an apology.

          • Steve Stubbs

            Oh come on. Tradition is a great thing, we have one of shooting the messenger. Sod the message.

          • gunnerbear

            Fair comment.

          • Robert_Crosby

            Why are you peddling your lies and misrepresentations on a Labour message board.

            I would never defend the perpetrators of those or any other crimes… but you’ll continue to lie about that all the same, I’m sure!

            Brown was pressured by a media and his panicking entourage. He would have been better off arguing that her concerns were legitimate but expressed in completely inappropriate language. He was, however, caught in a media storm and that probably wasn’t an option that was open to him.

          • gunnerbear

            Defend Brown as much as you wan t- carry on – I’m not a Blue Mobber (any Mobber for that fact)……GB reckoned he’d be superior and clever……….and he was rightly ripped a new one…. …..unless of course you think that Mrs, T would have been right to say “F**k that woman, whinging about ‘X’…….”

          • gunnerbear

            Pressured by an PR Man Wow…..what balls when it comes to making tricky decisions……….oooops……sorrrry….forgot………the PM smashed phones against the wall rather than actually fronting up…….

  • driver56

    Despite being a much maligned prime minister Gordon has come to the forefront on this issue. however People do want change in Scotland, This is in my opinion down to Labour’s abandonment of it’s core support both north and south of the border. I can’t forgive Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for starting the privatising of the NHS, PFI has destroyed the NHS in our area. The greed and pelf shown by the blairite champagne socialist’s was sickening to every true Labour supporter. People in Scotland were ignored and now Westminster and the establishment are receiving the biggest kick up the backside they have ever had. It has shown how much the establishment have been rocked when all three leaders rush up to Scotland to promise them almost anything to stay in the club. I have to say the sight of Ed Milliband linking up with the Tories and Lib Dems is the final straw for me. Labour needs a rapid change to return to it’s roots. So if Scotland votes yes then Labour has to take the lions share of the blame.

    • treborc1

      Yep that is a fair view.

  • Nick London

    Actually he has played a blinder. Either he is saviour of the union, or the next first minister of Scotland! Nice one.

  • Peter Williams


    No autocue, no notes, just passion and conviction. He did another one at the Citzens UK pre 2010 election. One of the few remaining UK politicians who can be trusted and has integrity and not merely power hungry.

    Yes it was a shame his stint as PM didn’t leave him with many supporters, but I for one like what he stands for and I hope this needless referendum will be a catylist for politcal change throughout the UK.

    Maybe at the next UK election there will be a party that represents my views and I will be able to tick a box rather than write NONE OF THE ABOVE!!!

  • john pruce

    He just saved the Union

  • Pedant77

    Enough with the GB love. He’s made two good speeches and sold the country and the party down the river with a typical Brown, short-term, knee-jerk, ill-thought out reaction to one bloody poll. We were winning anyway, and now we have to listen to Cameron and Farage bleat on about England and Englishness for the next 6 months instead of talking about what the NHS and the cost of living. We may well also have to win a majority without Scotland to have any hope of forming a viable government. Well done GB, (and all those idiots who sanctioned the last minute crappy promises), you’ve both lost us the next election and begun the process that can only end with the eventual break up of the union.

  • Lamia

    I’m not a fan at all of Gordon Brown and think he was a bit of a disaster as Prime Minister – though to some extent he was a victim of chickens from the Blair years coming home to roost.

    But that was an outstanding speech. In the final days, Brown had a great and possibly crucial effect in stiffening the resolve of Scottish unionist voters. Well done Mr Brown, and thank you. And I hope he and other politicians with some sense make sure that Cameron and co don’t weasel out of their vow. That would truly sink the UK, and I think most people – including south of the border – will look very unfavourably on politicians who try to exploit this for short-term party-political benefit. There is too much at stake.

    Westminster must now deliver for the Scots – and also for the English, Welsh and Northern Irish. If that means adjusting things to the point where we have something like a federal UK, then so be it. If it’s tricky to work out how to achieve it, then they must get their thinking caps on and work it out. We almost ended up with a rump UK and I don’t ever want that again. I’ll vote for any candidate who will put the UK ahead of short-term partisan calculation.

  • Scotland didn’t need to be part of the UK to fight in WW2. That’s a false argument


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