The Futility Monster

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Whither Brown?

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 27, 2009 @ 18:45

Never a frown, with Gordon Brown

Never a frown, with Gordon Brown

I am especially pleased about the title of this post, as it reminds me so much of various essays and journal articles from my student days. “Whither” has that suitable aura of superior academic stuffiness that makes even the most disinterested politico sit up and take note that this really is going to be something you’re going to find interesting…

Erm. Yes. Anyway…

Brown is finished. I have long held this view; I’m no Johnny-come-lately to this party. It’s so easy to bash Brown that I do actually start to pity him. One wonders whether that is actually his secret electoral weapon: that in the end he will be so hated that the voters actually start to feel sorry for him; that they should feel guilty about the ongoing ritual public humiliation that we have witnessed almost from day one.

But it wasn’t always like this…

Hands up: I admit I was once a Brown fan. In my naive youth, when I thought politicians actually meant what they say, I saw a speech by Gordon Brown. His 2003 address to the Labour Party conference was delivered at the peak of Blair’s unpopularity due to the Iraq war and at the time it was like a breath of fresh air to me. It felt like the whole country wanted that to happen – because there was this colossus waiting in the wings to deliver us from evil.

Indeed, I thought it was superb, powerful oratory (how silly of me: I soon realised what that actually was when I saw Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (and promptly told my friends he would be the next Democrat candidate; to which they replied “Who?” and I now have all the bragging rights)). Brown’s piece of political theatre made me think “Here’s a man who actually has Labour principles, unlike Tony Blair”.

From that point on, it has been all downhill between me and Brown. I know he’s particularly upset about it, but these days, I couldn’t give a toss.

As time wore on, it became apparent that the man is a serial liar. Uncomfortable in his own skin, with breathtaking arrogance or ignorance – whichever the situation calls for – typified by that bizarre moment in Autumn 2007 when he denied calling off the election because polls were showing he would lose. I had already seen these signs, and I spent the whole of 2006 arguing with Labour-leaning friends that Brown would not be the answer to their prayers. It just didn’t add up to me: how could a man who was such a central part of the New Labour project be so different to his contemporaries?

Sure enough, he wasn’t. My friends were suffering the same rose-tinted view that I held in 2003. They really need to learn from the Monster that cynicism has its place in politics: centre stage. 

I also argued that Brown should recognise that our ever-changing constitution required he go straight to the country for a mandate to govern. We may elect MPs, but there’s no doubt we’re voting for a government. Brown has never had any electoral legitimacy, part of the reason why he is so rejected by the public. I hope we never have another “unelected” prime minister again for this reason: times have changed, and a more honest politican than Brown would have appreciated that.

Naturally, Brown is not interested in my sage advice. Perhaps he should be though. If, instead, his first act as Prime Minister had been to ask for a dissolution of Parliament, I’ve no doubt he would have won because the Tories were not ready. The election would also have been held on the old boundaries, giving Labour an immediate boost. He would now be just two years into a (no doubt) five year term. There would be no clamour for an election, because his mandate to govern would still have been apparent.

Instead we’re left with this sad spectacle of seeing a man in decline, dragging a nation in decline into the sewer.

Make no mistake about it – there is nothing left for Brown in British politics. He has neither the time nor the authority to do anything else.

We just have to sit tight for ten months to let this failed experiment with an illegitimate, powerless Prime Minister draw to its inevitable conclusion: with a thumping defeat at the ballot box.

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2 Responses to “Whither Brown?”

  1. […] Whither Brown? […]

  2. […] the latest in my Bill Withers instalments, today I turn my attention to that venerable institution, BBC One’s […]

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