Friday, 28 September 2007

A Different Shade of Brown ...

... or Bennett

Ok, I know I am obssessed by Gordo...

... but life in France offers unexpected pleasures.

For example, the FFT (aka the Federation Francaise de Tennis, an organisation comparable to that which runs Wimbledon, and with not much less money to splash around) is based in Paris. No surprise there.

But its address offers much more in the way of improbability.

It is 2 avenue Gordon Bennett.

I am not joking.


Brown – again

Because I live in France, I often wonder if my sense of the apparent irreversible decline of every norm of public life in Britain is more the product of my over-heated imagination than an accurate reflection of reality. After all, occasional visits aside, what I know of Britain today is almost entirely second-hand even if necessarily filtered through my own experience of living there for 40-plus years.

So am I missing the point? Has distance warped my understanding of what is really happening in Britain?

Every instinct says no. More to the point, practically everyone I speak to who still lives in Britain tells precisely the same story: that little by little, drip by drip a continuous erosion of what even 20 years ago would have been taken as read is taking place in public life, the whole moreover at a hideous and astonishing financial cost.

The picture that emerges is of a country desperately clinging to an historic identity – not necessarily just of sturdy, free-thinking yeoman farmers and benevolent squires but certainly with a firm, if complacent grasp of its values and their origins – in the face of an ever more venal public administration. What was once a given – a decent train system, schools that actually taught, policemen who saw their first duty as protecting the public, hospitals dedicated to patients, public servants who were just that – has been progressively undermined to the point where you can be astounded when anything in the public sector actually works at all.

Can this really be true? Is this honestly what Britain has descended to?

The examples are so many – though I don't doubt I will do my best to highlight them all in due course – that I am only going to take two for now.

The first is the blithe assertion earlier this week by Trevor Phillip, head of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights – the name alone is enough to make you want to groan in despair – that the Ottoman Turks played a key role in defeating the Spanish Armada. On every level, it was a cretinously stupid comment.

First, it is bad history. Bad because it is wrong. Not just a misinterpretation but actually, factually wrong. And bad because it is transparently designed to serve a political cause, the past distorted in the interests of a half-baked contemporary goal of more than just dubious value.

The second is Gordon Brown's refusal to hold a referendum on the European Treaty (for which read Constitution). Call me naive. Brown is after all nothing if not a politician to the tips of his exceedingly busy fingers. Expediency, calculation and self-interest have always dominated. But it was precisely the same combination of expediency, calculation and self-interest that led the Labour Party to promise unambiguously in its 2005 manifesto that it would hold a referendum on the European Constitution.

That this is transparently self-serving scarcely needs to be said. Except, of course, that it does. And frankly it can hardly be said too often.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Gordon Brown: Reasons to be Very Scared

This is serious stuff. The Daily Brute takes off. Quite a moment.

I don't plan to start this new, super improved blog with anything other than a substantial bang.

So, straight to the point.

Gordon Brown is the most frightening man in British politics since ... well who?

The scary thing is there is almost no one to compare him to. Lloyd George comes close. Harold Wilson might have measured up had he been less obviously devious. For my money, the only man to rival him is Cromwell. And that really is frightening.

Who, what, why is Gordon Brown? What does he mean? What does he want? What is he up to?

Don't take this lightly. This man has the potential to change all our lives.

Only the most seriously deranged can believe he will change them for the better.

That he is obsessively driven is self-evident. That he would like us to belive that this inner drive stems partly from his sternly improving childhood in Scotland, partly from his innate conviction that he alone understands what the country needs to become simultaneously richer and fairer is equally clear.

We are accordingly subjected not just to Gordo the Stern Statesman but Gordo the Moralist. Gordo the Great Steersman looms.

Actually, what we are really dealing with is not a moralist but a politician.

But not just any old politician. Gordo, in ways that are properly unprecendented, combines everything that is worst about old fashioned socialism with everything that is worst about politics as it is practised today,

There is a key point here. Brown is an unreconstructed socialist. He believes in the state. More particularly, he believes in the state as it is presided over by him. It's not just the man in Whitehall who knows best. Brown knows best. There is, for him, no problem so intractable that it cannot be solved by a combination of his higher intellect and his approval of the necesary finance. I am not exaggerating.

That by any rational measure this is rubbish simply does not register on his bullet-plated sense of self-worth or on his unshakeable belief that he cannot possibly be wrong. There are serious shades of Cromwell here.

But this is also a man who has been a party to the most relentless political spining ever known in Britain. He understands it. He has not just been party to it. He has been a key author.

The result is a hideous combination of sanctimonious and astoundingly expensive socialism wrapped up in earnest tones of self-improvement made possible by endlessly cynical, generally brutal, self-promotion.

He is not a nice man.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

More follows.

Consider the following: