Now that Gordon Brown has announced that he will step down as leader of the Labour Party, he will no doubt be looking forward to having more time for contemplation and reflection.  I imagine he might even have time for a little light reading.  Perhaps I could suggest the following:

The vision of the early socialists was of a society which had abolished for ever the dichotomy – the split personality caused by people’s unequal control over their social development – between man’s personal and collective existence, by substituting communal co-operation for the divisive forces of competition.  Today the logic of present economic development, in inflation and stagnation, and at the same time the demand for the fullest use of material resources, makes it increasingly impossible to manage the economy both for private profit and the needs of society as a whole.  Yet the long-standing paradox of Scottish politics has been the surging forward of working class industrial and political pressure (and in particular the loyal support given to Labour) and its containment through the accumulative failures of successive Labour Governments.   More than fifty years ago socialism was a qualitative concept, an urgently felt moral imperative, about social control (and not merely state control or more or less equality).  Today for many it means little more than a scheme for compensating the least fortunate in an unequal society.

The author?  It was written in 1975 by a young Scottish socialist called Gordon Brown (in his introduction to the Red Paper on Scotland).

This is not the first example of a political journey from workers’ champion to bankers’ friend (and it surely will not be the last).  I am reminded of former Trotskyist T. Dan Smith, another labour leader who believed he could use capitalism for the benefit of the working class.  That all ended in ignominy too.