Seeing how Gordon Brown has been delivering some Kinnock-esque barnstorming speeches in recent days, and seeing how Jonathan Freedland uses his Guardian column today to remind us of the classic “I warn you” speech by Neil Kinnock on the eve of the 1983 general election, I thought I’d reproduce the best bit from that speech, as I have done before:
If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you . . . I warn you that you must not expect work — when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet — when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort — with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound — when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less — when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.
If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old.
Given the forthcoming “age of austerity” that the Tories have promised us, and given the danger of a double-dip recession under George Osborne, I think Kinnock’s words are as relevant in 2010 as they were in 1983 — if not more so.
God help us all if David Cameron strolls into No 10 on Friday — though, like James, I still think it might not happen.