Hearing Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour Party Conference from a few hundred yards yesterday (too far away for a shoe protest, close enough to realise he's got a little more charisma in person than on the telly) was a revelation.
There's been lots of analysis of the content of the speech (I won't add to it here - well, for now) but for me it was the imagery that struck home.
The slightly cultish atmosphere, the biblical references, the Himmler-esque propaganda film taking credit for British paralypmic champions, hit records and so on, the illiberal policies on anti-social behaviour (nicked, I understand, straight from the offensive 'gulags for slags' proposal championed by the vile BNP) - all of it delivered under three outsized, fluttering, digital Union Jacks.
For me, the seminal moment was when Sarah Brown called Gord-help-us 'my hero' and the delegates leapt into a spontaneous standing ovation. Weird - and not just a little scary.
Anyway, I left the speech pondering what it was that had driven me away from Labour in the first place. It didn't take me long to come up with a ten-point list, locally tailored, of course, that summarise, for me, the things I'd like to see changed:
1. The widening gap between richest and poorest, worse now than when Labour came to power in 1997
2. Failure to move Britain away from finance and service-led consumption-based economy directly led to economic downturn (predictably, and predicted by Greens): now local unemployment is rising fast
3. Failure to act on child poverty: shocking levels of children in Brighton Kemptown growing up in poverty
4. The CoMART fiasco costing the local taxpayer millions and leaving Kemp Town and Whitehawk without a community secondary school
5. Steady erosion of civil liberties and democracy since 1997
6. Labour's warmongering - costing billions and killing thousands while increasing the risk of terrorist attack here in UK
7. Labour's abandonment of Clause 4 of the party's former constitution: it's failure to recognise that all of our interests are best served by a more equal society and the best way to achieve that is state ownership and control of all public services - and many private ones too
8. Trident renewal plans and failure to show the courage inherent in unilateral nuclear disarmament
and, since yesterday:
9. Family ASBOs
10. Illiberal plans to take 16 and 17 yr old single mums into care (well the less well off ones anyway...)