Monday, 5 November 2007

Gordon's vision

Through the murk, a pattern of sorts is beginning to emerge of what the Bottler grandly calls his 'vision'.

Leave aside that for over 10 years he was a key member of the Blair government, indeed claimed to have been the real power behind the throne, the brooding presence whose approval was required for every initiative. Leave aside, too, that having actively schemed against Tony Blair throughout this same period, it might not have been a bad idea to have had at least the outline of a plan in place for what he would do when given the keys to No. 10.

In fact, once complacently confirmed as prime minister, Blair finally dispatched, none of this seemed to matter. All that counted was that the Master Plan, presumably honed over 10 years of ever more bitter resentment, could now be unveiled.

As it turned out, to begin with it was enough for the Bottler merely to look grave for the new mood to be set, one the media was curiously credulous in playing up to. Brown the sage statesman, the enemy of spin, was accordingly ushered onto the stage. If the applause was hushed, it was only because it was so obviously awed.

Underlying this was the belief that the Bottler was not only spin-averse where Blair was a spin junkie but that, the possessor of the biggest brain in British politics, he was hugely formidable. We waited to be stunned by the master strategist, Bismarck reborn, playing a brilliantly far-sighted game whose ultimate success would become clear only as the last piece on the board was moved and his opponents reeled, hands clamped to foreheads, their worst fears realised.

Please. Don't believe a word of this. The longer he infests No. 10, the more blindingly obvious it becomes he hasn't got a clue. Not a single one. His sole goal is to remain in Downing Street for as long as he can. He is obsessed with the thought that he must at least beat Heath's four and a half years as PM. (To his bitter chagrin, Blair's 10-plus years are clearly beyond reach.) Policies are accordingly to be hacked around with a single purpose: to limit damage and to gain whatever short-term advantage may be on offer. No media opportunity can be passed up. Simultaneously, ever-more desperate efforts are made to suggest that he is the real heir not just of Thatcher but of Churchill, the personification of the stout-hearted, freedom-loving Briton.

In short, there is no vision.

It is fear that drives the Bottler. Fear that he will be exposed as insecure, grasping and bullying. Above all, fear that he will be exposed as a man with nothing to offer.

It's not vision, it's paranoia.

It will end in the most spectacular bout of blubbing perhaps ever seen in British politics, one that will make Thatcher's passing seem positively commonplace.

I almost feel sorry for him.

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