It is time to bring the question out into the open: is the Prime Minister of sane mind?
Going right back to the Blair charge that he was “psychologically flawed” this question has periodically arisen. Whereas in the past people made a joke of it, now the issue is becoming a genuine concern. Labour MPs discuss it semi-openly and political journalists report evidence of hysterical rants, the rages, the odd behaviour. The question comes up in private conversations all the time. Guido has heard it seriously suggested that Gordon suffers from “high functioning Aspergers”.
It is becoming harder to cover it up whatever it is – some interviews border on totally loony – the repetitive mantras, the uncorrelated bizarre smiles, the complete inability to empathise. When Kay Burley asked him this week would he still have the PM’s job at Christmas his reply was “Of course, because we have got to get on with the job… We have got to get on with the job. People want us to get on with the job. Getting on with the job is the most important thing at the moment.” He snapped at the Mail on Sunday “I’m happy to talk to you because you are here… I have given you special time. That is very good of me. You are very fortunate.”
He told smirking political correspondents on the flight to Beijing that he was going to win the next election, he tells confidantes that he believes the economy will turn around in a few months. We are told to expect an economic plan to turn things around – a plan which the Treasury is openly briefing it knows nothing about. He is clearly becoming increasingly disconnected from reality.
It is low politics to hurl cheap abuse at opponents, but this is not borne of malice towards Brown, Guido feels like the boy who pointed at the naked emperor and said what everyone was too embarrassed to say. The head of government is clearly at the very least deluded and unable to function under the pressure. The worst is frightening to contemplate, for his party and the country…
London 2012 will of course over-run in costs by billions, burden taxpayers in London in particular, cause immense problems for the host city, not get a return on investment and generally result in a lot of moaning. As a libertarian who would prefer it to have been run as a private venture – the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles made a $200 million profit – you would expect Guido to moan.
It will however also generate a lot of pride and excitement, so rather than begrudging it, maybe we should just make the most of it. Who knows, with Boris in charge and a Conservative government in power, it might, like Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Olympics, even make a profit - we can dream...
Not sure what special facilities bloggers really require. You can blog from your laptop with a 3G card, or at a push your Blackberry* or iPhone. Is it worth the parties making any effort to offer special access or have briefings for bloggers? Maybe if they want to shape the reporting. To be honest briefings tend to be worth very little, bloggers would be best advised going and getting their own stories rather than just regurgitating the spin handed out. That is what the lobby is for…
Guido is going to hit the bright lights of Birmingham for the Tory conference but is frankly unable to face going to all the conferences, even declining one corporate titan’s invitation to join his table at the Labour gala dinner – unarmed.
Biden dropped out of the 2008 race for the Democratic presidential nomination after a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses, but not before saying “I am not running for vice president, I would not accept it if anyone offered it to me. The fact of the matter is I’d rather stay as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than be vice president.” That quote will not hurt as much as other quotes McCain’s campaign will be replaying extensively – Biden gave a hard-hitting TV interview during his abortive 2008 run where he laid into Obama as too inexperienced to be President.
UPDATE : This just in from McCain ’08:
…the visit had a routine flavour for Gordon Brown, livened up only by Hamid Karzai, who was evidently bemused by the way British broadcasters all asked questions about the PM’s troubles without even a mention of Afghanistan or the British effort there. “Cabinet ministers plotting is nothing new. We have that in Afghanistan too. But not my foreign minister,” he told us. Ouch.
Gordon apparently managed to mumble something about “getting on with the job”. Sky’s Jon Craig notes that after his pep talk to the troops, delivered facing the press and away from them “rather oddly, I thought, the PM wasn’t applauded by the soldiers at Camp Bastion”. Humiliating though it was, this is how it will be from now on. Gordon is a weak leader, too weak even to risk trouble from a reshufle despite a desperate need to refresh his cabinet. The only question in British politics is: “How and when will Gordon Go?”
Picture stolen from Downing Street website. Guido’s taxes paid for it after all and it is not like they respect anyone else’s copyright, is it?
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun
Feminist War on Children | Laura Perrins
An English Parliament is Inevitable Whatever Happens | Alex Wickham
Union All But Over Even if Scots Vote No | Janan Ganesh
Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:
“Sunday, May 10, 1998
Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.
After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.
I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.
They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].
I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”