The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Paxman v Brown

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 30, 2010 @ 21:26

Poor bugger...

In the final chapter of this series (Paxman v Clegg; Paxman v Cameron), Gordon Brown finally decided he would grace Jeremy Paxman with his presence. At the very least, these interviews have a bit more substance to them for wonks like me, and won’t get spun as to “who won”.

Overall, Brown gave a good account of himself. He was stubborn as hell. He had an answer to every single question, and they were almost all delivered without a moment’s pause or hesitation. There was no stuttering, no thoughtfulness. Just a steamroller through every issue.

First thing to say though is that he looks quite rough. This election is clearly taking it out of him. He seems to have aged noticeably, and even his voice, that dreaded, unforgiving monotone, sounded tired.

Because Brown is the only politician in government, however, he is the only one who has a 13 year record to defend. That’s a tall order, especially compared to the newness of Cameron and Clegg. As a result, Paxman did his level best to take every aspect of Gordon Brown’s record and pin the blame to Brown at every turn.

It was like a history seminar. Gordon Brown, the old and wise professor, correcting the errant and wayward student for daring to question his version of events. “My historical record is accurate”, insisted Professor Brown. Paxman ducked and dived, hurling shit at every opportunity. Expenses! Banking! Scandals! Immigration! Lack of mandates! Boom and bust! Iraq!

And then he finished with a cruel blow… with words to this effect:

“Why do people dislike you?”

But to give Brown his due, he answered them all, even the nasty attack on his personality, even making Jeremy Paxman laugh with his reply. But as for the policy, Brown is, of course, not correct to say that no one could have seen the disaster heading towards us in the banking sector. After all, a certain politician named Vince Cable warned us all about it for several years beforehand…

Brown, however, is just too abstract. He is a details man in a big picture world. He has all the facts and figures (at least, his versions of them) at his disposal in order to make a decent argument. An academic would love his essays.

Sadly for him, the electorate aren’t academics. He fails to make his logic into a tangible, touchy-feely, and even emotional case for governing. He just cannot do it. Mean people suggest it might be a form of autism. Even Jeremy Paxman hinted at it by asking why Brown struggles to relate to people (see the historical record, passim). Brown dismissed it, of course, but the charge is there.

Brown did eat his humble pie over “Bigotgate”, but Paxo kept on stuffing him by turning the debate fully to the issue of immigration, and spent five minutes accusing him of having no mandate for the amount of it this country has seen. A very difficult accusation for him indeed, but Brown blustered through. He has done that for over 10 years anyway, so he’s pretty good at it by now…

The biggest thing I take from the interview, though, is Brown’s utter determination to go right on to the bitter end. He is still supremely confident of his abilities, and has complete bloody-minded certainty of his convictions, even though the evidence over the years is of a man who has changed his position time after time to put him on the winning side.

And while it appears that there’s no one in the Labour Party who’s prepared to tell him that the Emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes, he will continue to do it until he’s ground Labour into the dust.

Full marks to him for his sheer brass neck in the interview. Full marks for playing up his experience and belief that he can keep saving Britain. Full marks for using it instead of the way other politicians play the charisma card.

But, these days, you just can’t get away with it.

Sorry, Gordon. Your number’s up.

3 Responses to “Paxman v Brown”

  1. Peter Reynolds said

    As you say, “a man who has changed his position time after time”.

    He is without any integrity. If he had been true to any principle or belief then I could give him some credit for his “bloody-minded certainty” but it is all bluster and spin. Put it another way, the man is a liar.

    After his shabby, dishonest, corrupt, self-serving premiership I can give the man no credit for anything.

    Good riddance!

  2. Mike C said

    Brown absolutely wiped the floor with Paxman. Paxman didn’t know what hit him. I think if Clegg and Cameron had been there then they would have been like schoolchidren lost in the level of detail that Brown gave on the economy, both domestic and global. The rime ministerial debates just cannot demand that level of detail, insight and knowledge. It absolutely reinforced my view that Brown, albeit not a man of style and maybe not even a man of integrity, is the right and only man to get us through this crisis.

  3. Mark Mc said

    Absolutely spot on, Mike C. I am going to vote lib dem but I must say that was the best performance by any politician confronted with Jeremy Paxman in adverse circumstances that I have ever seen. He actually made Paxman look like a pussy cat – an extraordinary feat that no one in the media has even mentioned!

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