Here he was notionally being interviewed/chaired/steered by Alistair Moffat, who succeeded in doing none of these, not that he really seemed interested anyway. Brown is still an angry man, but Brexit and nationalism have taken the place of economic and social inequalities and (it seems hard to believe now) devolution and Scottish identity.
Brown began with what can only be described as one of his trademark rants. If you agree with him – as did most in the audience – his extraordinary opening salvo, delivered for around twenty minutes while marching backwards and forwards across the stage, was wonderful. He rounded first on Brexit, then nationalism, presenting each as both stupid and evil cramming more into that opening than most speakers manage in an hour. I was reminded of Professor William Barclay's Sunday night lectures on Christianity, and his minister father might well have been the model for Brown's Pan Drop-length sermon.
The meeting was immediately opened to a variety of questions, most of which were on point. Time and again Brown repeated his mantras that 'we need to stop a No-Deal Brexit' and 'nationalism is a destructive waste of energy". But I found myself increasingly impatient as I listened to Brown telling us that we needed to stop a No-Deal Brexit, but never once turned to how we, the public, could do so – given that the views of Scots have been pointedly ignored for the past decade. And despite beginning with a story that we need to compromise more generally in politics, I never once heard Brown indicate what compromises he himself could settle for.
I felt Alistair Moffat could have done more, too. He could have challenged more himself, even just for the sake of argument, and he could have taken more questions from his left. Perhaps he has a back problem that prevents him from turning at all? Either way, he came across as a little lazy.
Right at the end, comedian and wannabe politician Eddie Izzard, who was in the audience, asked a question which did at least elicit an answer from Brown that exhorted us to sign petitions and so on. If only we'd heard that earlier, then we could have explored some of the options.