Who will be brave enough to wear the Brown trousers?

June 3, 2009

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the most unpopular leader of the Labour Party ever, a singular achievement given the horrorbags who preceded him. His 21% approval rating beats the previous liability incarnate, Michael Foot, who scored 24% in 1982. Foot was a principled Fabian, idealist socialist toff in the Orwell mould but his donkey jacket, mad stare, scary hair and CND badges earned him the nickname ‘Worzel Gummidge’ and made him unelectable in the Brave New World of image and soundbite. Brown, a charisma-free zone, has not acquired a popular soubriquet, though Private Eye style him as ‘Supreme Leader’ in a nod to the stagnation, authoritarianism, denial and corruption of the Brezhnev era, which preceded the collapse of the Soviet system.

Foot’s Old Labour image was the catalyst for ‘reforms’ which saw him replaced in 1983 by ‘Welsh Windbag’ Neil Kinnock, who never used one word where 20 would do. Kinnock, a former Tribune left winger, redhaired, freckly, pointy-featured, with a deep grating voice and tweedy demeanour, projected an uneasy persona which vacillated between pint-drinking man of the Welsh valleys and hopelessly aspirational metrocentric hipster. The latter was the invention of his Director of Communications, Lord of the Flies, Peter Mandelson, who rebranded Labour as a European-style social democrat party, ironic, since Kinnock and Labour had hitherto violently opposed European integration. Trounced twice by Thatcher, Kinnock was nevertheless odds-on to defeat ‘Grey Man’ John Major in 1992, who, (like Brown) was an unelected stand-in following Thatcher’s ousting. However, he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with the toe-curlingly hubristic 1992 ‘Good Evening Sheffield’ rally and speech. This inauspicious beginning was nevertheless the New Labour Nuremberg. Unprecedented spin, media manipulation, luvvies for Labour, pop anthems and feelgood bourgeois materialism would follow in an epidemic suspension of disbelief. Blair would realise the illuminati dream of a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie fuelled by media manipulation, sustained by fear and fuelled by financial chimaera.

But not for a couple of years. Sensible John Smith replaced Kinnock, who fled to Europe on the EU gravy train with his wife, Glenys and is now a ‘Baron’ for services to irrelevancy. Smith, although worryingly Scottish and a lawyer – a harbinger of the plague of Jocks to come – was a grounded, humorous, intelligent leader, who was not physically repugnant. Unfortunately he died of a heart attack in 1994, leaving the door open to the dreaded double act of Brown and Blair, stage-managed by Mandelson and his Iago, Alastair Campbell. Blair served ten years, set the tone for institutional kleptocracy by enriching himself in the housing boom and memoirs market, sucked up to George Bush then skipped town leaving a legacy of three wars (two of which are illegal) untramelled immigration, Islamophobia, madcap expansion of public spending with little to show apart from the Millennium Dome, crippling tuition fees for students, an undeserving, tax-avoiding oligarch class, widened gap between rich and poor, the worst recession for sixty years, national debt at its highest ever levels, ubiquitous state surveillance, abuse of police powers for political ends, a cowed media, widespread corruption and unemployment set to exceed 3 million. Brown was his ‘prudent’ Chancellor. When he assumed the mantle of Prime Minister, he declined to legitimise the post with an election.

It was obvious after the first term that the New Labour project was a get rich quick scheme for a grotesque politburo of social-climbing chancers and mountebanks. Had the Tories put up a half-decent opposition as opposed to fielding gargoyles such as William Hague, Michael Howard and Iain Duncan-Smith, the free ride might have ended earlier. We would not have avoided the global recession, but we might have halved our exposure to its worst effects. Corruption amongst MPs would not have been any less, but the democratic deficit might have been less pronounced. In truth, it’s hard to tell, since both parties now occupy the soggy centre and their policies are largely indistinguishable.

Now, as New Labour faces the final curtain, Gordon Brown, saviour of the wurreld and its banks and a major player on the global stage (Widow Twanky?) may be forced out of office by cohorts of his own larcenous claque. Alan Johnson, Health Secretary, is tipped to take over as leader, presumably on the basis that it would be a waste of time to bother to find anyone good ahead of the election, which Labour will lose by a country mile. Labour are thus proposing to run the country with yet another unelected Prime Minister, completing the shredding of any semblance of democratic principle and practice. When Brown goes, which will be very soon, there should be a General Election, and whoever gets in should enact a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Further urgent reform is needed to reverse the undemocratic ‘reforms’ to the House of Lords, which have replaced a crowd of unelected hereditary peers and a few life peers, many of whom were geriatric, drunkards, mad or a combination thereof, and thus as difficult to control as a herd of cats, with a stacked deck of unelected politically-appointed gurning lickspittles. Then there is the small matter of getting the country out of the mire and back to work. For this to happen, Cameron will need to find a proper Chancellor as opposed to George Osborne, and some policies, as opposed to soundbites. He’ll be wearing the Brown trousers, god help him, an odorous proposition. Serves him right for being a Conservative, like most of New Labour.