Thursday, March 5, 2009


Prime Minister (Labor Party) Gordon Brown of Great Britain/N.Ireland spoke movingly and eloquently before the Joint Session of Congress yesterday, amid an uproarious applause; might say he received more adulation than President Obama (too close to tell).

With this amount of praise and adulation, you would think you would have heard more about, and more focus on, the Prime Minister’s address coming from our mainstream media and our cable channels. Except for C-SPAN where I saw the Prime Minister speak, there was scarce coverage. Well, those aforementioned channels did mention that the Queen bestowed knighthood on Senator Ted Kennedy. Other than that, not much else. Wonder why … don’t you?

Well here’s what I think. The kind of address the Prime Minister made (coming from a Labor Party member), would be difficult for a conservative. Bits of the speech … maybe.

This is the kind of speech a Labor Party makes, the kind of speech a Democratic Party would make.

The Prime Minister talked about the people, the world, the poor, the powerless, children who are tortured, those who suffer, the environment, a green economy, and leveling the playing field so all can participate.

Our first responsibility is to help the powerless.” … “Wherever there is hardship, wherever there is suffering, we cannot, we will not, pass by on the other side.”

“For let us remember there is a common bond that unites us as human beings across different beliefs, cultures and nationalities. It is at the core of my convictions.”

Perhaps "this focus" is why we didn’t hear much about the Prime Minister’s speech from our mainstream media and CNN and right-wing media.

Here’s an outline of what Prime Minister Brown said:

1. The Prime Minister praised the United States.

2. A Knighthood for Senator Edward Kennedy from the Queen … and thoughts on the American Spirit.

“Throughout your history Americans have led insurrections in the human imagination, have summoned revolutionary times through your belief that there is no such thing as an impossible endeavor”

“What mattered more was this enduring truth – that you, the American people, at your core, were, as you remain, every bit as optimistic as your Roosevelts, your Reagans and your Obamas”

“You have shown that while a terrorist may destroy buildings and even, tragically, lives, they have not, and will not ever, destroy the American spirit”

3. Transatlantic Relationship: “Brown used the phrase “special relationship” twice – preferring instead formulations using words such as “friendship” or “partnership”. He also explicitly drew in the rest of Europe into the transatlantic relations Britain often likes to see as between it and the US.”

“You now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory … There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.”

4. Values: The Prime Minister extended his sections on America and transatlantic relations to talk about the ‘common bond that unites us as human beings’. He turned to values he said her learned as a child and some ‘ancient truths’.

“We do not value the wealthy less when we say that our first duty is to help the not so wealthy. We do not value the powerful less when we say that our first responsibility is to help the powerless.”

“In this most modern of crises I am drawn to the most ancient of truths; wherever there is hardship, wherever there is suffering, we cannot, we will not, pass by on the other side.”

“For let us remember there is a common bond that unites us as human beings across different beliefs, cultures and nationalities. It is at the core of my convictions.”

5. Foreign Policy: Brown turned to joint areas of joint foreign policy – the Middle East peace process, the two wars and towards Iran. He also, as he talked about Africa, recounted the story of a Rwandan boy tortured to death whose final words were of hope in the United Nations.

“Let me pay tribute to the soldiers, yours and ours, who again fright side by side in the plains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq.”

“And our shared message to Iran is simple – we are ready for you to rejoin the world community. But first, you must cease your threats and suspend your nuclear program”.

“The greatest gift our generation could give to the future … could be, for every child in every country of the world, the chance millions do not have today; the chance to go to school.”

6. Economy: Brown referred often to the lessons to be learned from the crisis, but – unlike his appearances in the commons – did not seek to blame Britain’s problems on the US banking sector. He also looked towards global action against tax havens.

“We need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe.”

“America and Britain will succeed and lead if we tap into the talents of our people, unleash the genius of our scientists and set free the drive of our entrepreneurs.”

“How much safer would everybody’s savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens?”

7. Green Issues: While the environment did not form the largest section of the Prime Minister’s speech, he did give it emphasis – often pairing the environment with the economy as the two most pressing issues facing the world. He also looked forward to this year’s climate change summit in Copenhagen.

“I come now to talk of new and different battles we must fight together; to speak of a global economy in crisis and a planet imperiled.”

“It is only by investing in environmental technology that we can end the dictatorship of oil, and it is only by tackling climate change that we create the millions of new green jobs we need.”

“I am confident that this president, this congress and the peoples of the world can come together in Copenhagen this December to reach a historic agreement on climate change.”

The entire session (video) can be seen on C-SPAN at:

Originating Prime Minister's contents of this story at:

No comments: