What do you do when you lose your position as Prime Minister? If you’re Tony Blair you jet-set, make moolah and sign a book equivalent to OJ Simpson’s “If I Did It”. If you’re Gordon Brown you set the ball rolling to become a huge force for democracy on the internet.
The former Prime Minister has agreed to join Tim Berners-Lee on the board of the World Wide Web Foundation. Sir Berners-Lee must have more faith in the ex-PM than his party did as the appointment comes after the two worked together on open data and web science initiatives during Brown’s tenure as prime minister.
According to a statement Mr Brown will take on the role of advising on ways to bring affordable internet connectivity to disadvantaged regions such as Africa.
The foundation leads programmes that “empower people to use the web to nurture local economies and improve access to education and information” it said.
“Africa is a new source of dynamism in the global economy,” Gordon Brown said in the statement. “I support the Web Foundation’s mission to promote the advancement of the web, as well as access to it, especially in Africa where the web can act as a catalyst for economic growth.”
Big Brother Watch describes Brown’s venture as “laudable” but highlights some of his goings on at New New Labour.
Alex Deane, a representative for the organisation, told us: “Wanting to help Africans get online is laudable. But given the enormous intrusions into privacy and freedom over which Gordon Brown presided whilst Prime Minister, he’s about the worst person to “help” new internet users. Less “education for all” – more “snooping for those who can’t escape it”.
All members of the Web Foundation’s Board of Directors work with the organisation on a pro bono basis and do not accept remuneration for their services, the press statement said.
We contacted the Conservative party, which wouldn’t comment. The Liberal Democrats hinted at their approval by telling us: “This isn’t a political issue but we wish Gordon Brown the best of luck with it.”
The latest Private Eye highlights how Brown and Blair turned the CDC into an organisation that pillaged rather than helped Africa’s former colonies – perhaps he’s trying to ease residual guilt on the years-long cock-up. Either way we wish Brown, the WWWF and Africa the best of luck.