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Gord's vision is a sight for sore eyes.

Byline: Paul ROUTLEDGE

IF a bloke came up to me in the pub saying "I've had a vision!", I would politely change the subject. Or move to the lounge bar.

I associate visions with Old Testament prophets, like Moses who saw God in a burning bush. So why are politicians all of a sudden talking about the vision thing?

I wonder what they want us to see? The Prime Minister appearing as an angel of deliverance?

I know Gordon Brown bears more than a passing resemblance to Elijah, and his father's middle name was Ebenezer. And he grew up a son of the manse, in Kirkcaldy, Fife, where they see all sorts of fantasies after a night on the toon.

But I don't get this new-fangled idea of political visionaries. My feet are, I hope, firmly on the ground. I don't ask for the Promised Land. From government, I want a realistic programme of practical policies to improve the lives of the people.

I suspect that goes for most folk.

By that test, Brown's first Queen's Speech as premier is a success. Measures he outlined will make life safer, more family-friendly, greener and fairer in the workplace.

He promised more, better homes, especially social housing, a better work-life balance for working parents, compulsory employer pension contributions, tougher protection for patients, greater security for savers and improved bus transport. If this is "vision", let's see more of it - if you get my meaning.

There are aspects of his 32 parliamentary Bills - about which I remain to be convinced. Like the plan to extend the education leaving age to 18, with fines for bunking off.

And I'm also opposed to giving police 56 days of detention without charge for terrorism suspects. No case has been made for this draconian step, but at least Brown is proceeding with caution where his predecessor leaped in and suffered defeat.

But in all, this is a sound, coherent agenda. It doesn't have to be dressed up as a vision. It works as it is: a practical programme of measures that do the right thing.

When voters understand that, Brown will have convinced them of his worth. Naturally, Dave Cameron, the Tory dreamer, accuses Gordon of lacking vision.

Maybe he remembers his halcyon days at Eton, when the world seemed better through a haze of cannabis smoke.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2007
Previous Article:HAMISH LOST IN A HAZE.

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