You Don't Need to be Black to Be the British Barack

Cassilis says that a little humility would have served Hillary well, and concludes by making a comparison with British politics:

Quick final thought – let’s look at that Clinton character sketch again:Formidable intellect and an impressive grasp of detail and policy; Perceived lack of warmth and an inability to smile with any sincerity; High-minded approach to politics and a dismissive attitude towards opponents; Brooks no dissent; Long-time association with a previous administration.

Ring any bells? I know, I know – my more cynical readers will think this is where this post was headed all along but I assure you that wasn’t the case. The parallels with Brown are striking – the one obvious difference of course being he’s already got the top job.

This reminds me of a thought I had last week, after the New Statesman asked “Is there a British Obama?” Surfing on the wave of the Illinois Senator’s paradigm shifting campaign, the New Statesman was asking where Britain’s first black prime minister is lurking. I remember thinking that you don’t need to be black to be the British Barack.

Because the momentum behind Obama’s candicacy is due to more than his skin colour. It is as much about dynamism and youth, and about challenging Hillary’s lock on the nomination. It is about the profoundly democratic notion that we shouldn’t have coronation nominations. The Americans seem to have embraced this idea, and managed to confound the cynics by actually delivering this unexpected political turn-around.

The comparable events in Britiain took a much more predictable, cynical turn. David Miliband could have fulfilled the Obama role, bursting Brown’s aura of inevitability.  We know he considered the posibility of a challenge, but in the end he took the path of least resistance. Gordon the Glazier had installed a glass ceiling his own, with only one person above it, and no-one (black or white) had the courage to try and break through.

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