Rogues and their remarks

The ruling élite speaks

Harold Macmillan Harold Macmillan

Yesterday I was having a snack with the radio close by and heard Gordon Brown's now famous remark about "saving the world" first hand. After the sandwich it was back to the computer and a choice of websites with the video clip of this moment from Prime Minister's Questions. This mid-week ritual is loathed by Brown because he is hopeless at it, he rambles. It is supposed to be an opportunity for MPs to ask him questions, obviously. In turn he is supposed to answer them, but never seems to do this. He goes off into mega-peroration of the most sonorous sort, one day he will bore himself too.

Even the normally supportive Guardian was in gleeful mood at yesterday's show and it's not hard to see why. For a while now friends and relatives abroad have been asking of Brown: "what's he up to"? and: "who does he think he is"? The reasons for the questions are obvious as Brown's antics in the last few months have begun to rival those of Nicholas Sarkozy for self applied grandeur. Browns constant repetition of the idea that he leads and others follow has gone from the comedic to the sad. Especially when Sarkozy at least looks semi-convincing in
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Thatcher his 'mighty me' mode, while Brown looks like a man with a complaint in a public library.

Also, while Brown continually pretends that upcoming US President Obama is keen to follow the Brown bail-out lead, it is more pertinent to wonder why German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not. Perhaps she can see problems that Brown and Alistair Darling cannot, like it won't work.

When I was younger I was lucky enough to see the satirical show Beyond the Fringe, this would be the original version as in London sometime in 1961. I have many memories of the show but Brown's saving the world remark took me back to Peter Cook and his sketch about Harold Macmillan. As Prime Minister, Macmillan like Brown, had serious problems to deal with and what so irked many people was Macmillan's distant and lofty approach to the woes of the nation. Hence Cook, who disliked Macmillan, had him slurring out one inanity after another in an arrogant manner. For the sketch Cook stood ramrod straight next to a table with a globe, "I've recently been around the world" said Cook and then gently reached down and gave the globe a spin. The audience roared in approval, for Macmillan was just like that, giving off the impression that in reality the world spun around him.
Harold Wilson Harold Wilson

In terms of a sad mix of lofty arrogance, detachment and delusion, Macmillan has in Brown a serious rival. I tend to agree that this remark although accidental will endure. So, from Macmillan we had “Events, my dear boy, events”, Margaret Thatcher gave us "We are a grandmother", Harold Wilson's contribution was "The pound in your pocket" and James Callaghan shall be remembered for "Crisis?,What crisis"? And note the balance here, two from old Labour and two Conservatives!

So what happens now, what does Moses, as Lord Mandelson called Brown recently, do and say next? Well perhaps the solution is for the unelected Deputy Prime Minister Lord Mandy to draw the flak away from his boss. And that's a rather chilling thought bearing in mind the Noble Lord's past. What extravagant actions, not ending in resignation, can be possible and legal?
James Callaghan James Callaghan

Final word on Peter Cook, if you look at photographs of Cook in the late 1980s early 90s he has a passing resemblance to the recently cleared MP Peter Hain, but the all-time rogues prize must go to Gordon Brown!