About me

Get new posts by email.

About me

Brown’s record-breaking nose-picking

I’ve just noticed that my (infamous) YouTube video of Gordon Brown picking his nose has now been viewed over half a million times – 581,610 times to be precise – on YouTube alone. That’s on top of it’s appearance on Newsnight, and pretty much everywhere in 2007. It’s had 2,584 comments – more than the rest of the site put together.

It’s quite clearly the most successful thing ever to come from this site: A video of someone picking their nose. Crazy!

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, Politics, Site Updates, , , .

A sincere apology from me to all of Britain

I’ve been nostalgically browsing the site’s archives today, and flicking through the digital version of Instant Opinion.

If you remember the last general election, in which Tony Blair secured an historic third term of government for the Labour Party, you may remember that I blogged about the campaign fairly intensely. And, looking back to my post about the Budget of that year, I came across this embarrassing paragraph:

The main message that I took away from today’s events was how much better Mr Brown would be as Labour’s leader: Tony Blair’s fake emotion and anger versus Mr Brown’s real commandeering and forceful delivery, appearing to actually believe what he says? I know who I’d choose.

Jeepers, how wrong can you be?

So apologies for that. I’ll try not to write anything so crap this time around. But it may be difficult to judge the crappiness until four years hence.

Still: I guess it’s a bit reassuring to know that it’s not only ‘new media’ writers like me that mess these things up – the dead-tree press are at it too. My favourite U-turn of this year has to be Michael White’s:

A hung parliament is not going to happen – And a good thing too
– Michael White, The Guardian, 23rd November 2009

Make ready the smokeless rooms: a hung parliament is on the cards
– Michael White, The Guardian, 24th November 2009


This post was filed under: Politics, , , , , .

Gordon Brown, MAOIs, and peculiar words

You know those bags of Rowntree’s Randoms, constantly advertised on TV? Seemingly reasonable people suddenly start spouting inappropriate words for their situation because they’ve indulged in a jelly sweet which has an unusual shape?

I’m beginning to wonder whether Gordon Brown has accidentally ingested a whole packet of the Prime Ministerial equivalent. How else can you explain the way he claims to be “pleased” and “proud” to apologise for the appalling treatment of Alan Turing, surely one of the greatest British heroes of the twentieth century? The words are simply inappropriate, as can be clearly seen by applying them to similar situations:

Mr Smith, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to apologise for your wife’s unfortunate death!

Mrs Jones, I’m proud to say that I can apologise for running over your cat!

Mr Thomas, I’m pleased and proud to apologise for your son’s death in Afghanistan!

Except, Gordon Brown wasn’t pleased and proud in the latter case. He was reportedly “devastated” about recent deaths in the country. Not angry, not apologetic, not regretful, not mourningful, not sorry, just “devastated”. Of course, not “devastated” enough to go to a military funeral, or even visit any injured soldier in hospital. Just “devastated” enough to repeatedly use the word and move on.

There are some who suspect there’s something altogether more worrying underlying Gordon Brown’s unusual responses. They claim, based on reports that he must avoid eating cheese and drinking chianti, that he is taking MAOIs, and old-fashioned kind of antidepressant.

The assertion that Gordon Brown uses MAOIs was recently made plain by Matthew Norman in the Independent, after months of hinting from Simon Heffer in the Telegraph and Matthew Parris in the Times.

The substantial problem with this theory is that virtually no-one takes MAOIs, as they’re extremely outdated and have some pretty nasty side-effects. On top of this, there are manifest reasons for avoiding cheese and chianti: A tendency for migraines, a plethora of food allergies, or a sensitivity to appearing too middle-class.

Yet whether or not he’s taking MAOIs, there are substantial rumours suggesting that Gordon Brown might be depressed. Whether or not this may impair his ability to fulfil the role of Prime Minister is debateable.

Iain Dale, for example, believes that it shouldn’t matter if Mr Brown is depressed – he deserves our compassion more than our criticism. He cites the example of Churchill, who was undoubtedly depressed but still a great Prime Minister.

I see entirely where Iain is coming from, and, for what it’s worth, I largely agree. I see no reason why depression should preclude decent Premiership.

But we live in a media-driven world that Churchill never experienced. Churchill was an alcoholic, and this may never have affected his leadership. That didn’t stop the Lib Dems overthrowing Charles Kennedy – their most charismatic leader to date – because he was a recovering alcoholic. The image wasn’t right. And if the image of a recovering alcoholic isn’t right for leader of a liberal party, how can a person with mental health problems ever be the right image for a Prime Minister?

To me, it actually doesn’t matter whether Gordon Brown is depressed or whether he fits the model image of a Prime Minister. What matters is that he’s terrible at his job. Performance must surely be judged above all else, especially for one of the country’s top jobs. And Mr Brown fails that test, and fails it miserably: From the economy, to student debt, to any one of manifest crises between which Mr Brown has lurched, it’s clear that he simply doesn’t have “The Right Stuff”.

But in today’s politics, who does? David Cameron? I suspect we might be on the verge of finding out.

Last Friday, The Pod Delusion launched. The pilot episode included a contribution from me on this subject, on which this post is based. Now go and listen to the rest!

This post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics, .

Diary for 21st December 2008

My Gordon Brown nose-picking vid is 8th in an NHS Blog Doctor vote of reasons he’s unfit to lead. Gratifying for me, less so for democracy. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, .

Diary for 24th September 2008

It’s just been pointed out to me that my nose-picking video is now the third result on a Google search for ‘Gordon Brown’. Blimey! «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, , .

For the good of Labour, Brown should battle on

Several MPs, ministers, and political commentators appear to want Gordon Brown to resign as leader of the Labour Party. God knows why: These lefties seem to think that sacking Brown would be good for Labour when, in reality, it would be anything but.

Labour cannot win the next election. Barring the hugely unexpected, Labour is now by far the most damaged political party, and the Conservatives are well into an inexorable resurgence. The political wind in the country, stirred up by Big Bad Blair, is now circling Downing Street and will huff, puff, and blow down Labour’s house with surety.

Labour’s popularity is in its boots as it is, and whilst Mr Brown is hardly boosting it, it is most certainly the party which is damaged now, not the leadership, and it cannot win the next election until it has undergone a Cameronesque detoxification. And,as Carol Voderman will tell you, you can’t detoxify when under the pressure of Government.

As if that weren’t enough, governments undoubtedly live and die through economic cycles. Few governments could hope to survive the present economic downturn, and both Labour and Brown – who have previously sung so enthusiastically about how they control the economy – have dug their own graves. Taking credit for the upward economic stroke has now left their popularity careering head-first down the slippery slope of economic downturn.

Of course, Brown’s fervent support for the merger of HBOS and Lloyds TSB this week is a further mistake: He’s backing a process which he doesn’t entirely control, and any regulatory hurdles the process stumbles at will be painted as Brown losing his influence. There’s a reason why back-room deals and discussions should stay in the back room.

But still, he shouldn’t resign. Labour failing under Brown is infinitely better for the Party than Labour failing under two leaders. Labour can’t win the next general election, but with a new leader, a lick of paint, and some enthusiastic party unity, they can purge themselves back into power reasonably quickly – and that’s where minds should be focussed.

To elect another leader now and yet still lose the next election will damage the Party far more: Failure under one leader can be painted as the failure of a bad apple, fail under two consecutive leaders and the country thinks whole orchard is rotten. Allegiance is switched to pears.

Of course, such is the nature of politics, few Labour MPs genuinely care about the long-term future of the party. The career politicians in marginal seats would desperately like to keep their jobs at the next election, and see Brown as damaging the Party. They want to chuck him out to give themselves a flicker of hope of avoiding their P45 for another Parliamentary term. Frankly, they’d stand a better chance if they crossed the floor.

This Labour government is undoubtedly moribund. There are no heroes in the wings waiting to swoop in a resuscitate their chances. The only sensible thing to hope for now is a dignified death, in the hope that the rebirth can be swift.

Brown simply must not go.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, , , , .

Diary for 27th July 2008

Mr Brown’s current favourite refrain is that he is “Getting on with the job”. When will he realise that many want him to do the opposite? «

Carol Vorderman’s treatment by the makers of Countdown is shocking, and I don’t share their confidence that the show will go on without her. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, , , , , .

Fuel duty increase postponed. Nobody surprised.

Mr Brown insists that he’s been planning today’s postponement of October’s fuel duty increase for some time. Perhaps he’s a fan of this very blog, and has been planning it since May:

Every indication appears to suggest that Brown is going to give in to the current demonstrations on fuel pricing and – at the very least – further delay October’s increase in fuel duty. This will be unfortunate but necessary damage limitation, and will spin well for, ahem, ‘hard-working families’.

Indeed, as predicted, he even spun that it was a measure ‘to help families’. If only he’d listened to my earlier advice and announced it at the time of the local elections:

In his single exclusive interview, Mr Brown should have been armed with an arresting announcement – something along the lines of freezing fuel duty increases to help the poor … Pretty much anything would have moved the news cycle forward, and taken the focus away from Mr Brown and the disastrous election.

Instead, he’s decided to keep the announcement back to today, thereby achieving nothing but a pasting by those who say its another sign of the economy going down the plughole, and a good ol’ bashing by those who say it’s electioneering.

Good one, team Brown – Yet another remarkable own goal.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, , , , .

Diary for 18th June 2008

So Davis’ masterplan worked: Gordon has bottled another election he couldn’t win. I can’t recall a PM being backed into a corner this often. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, .

Another cack-handed cock-up by Brown

Petrol PumpEvery indication appears to suggest that Brown is going to give in to the current demonstrations on fuel pricing and – at the very least – further delay October’s increase in fuel duty. This will be unfortunate but necessary damage limitation, and will spin well for, ahem, ‘hard-working families’.

If Gordon had made this announcement as part of his disastrous round of mea culpa interviews a couple of weeks ago – as I said he should – it would’ve worked to move on the news cycle exactly when he needed some movement, it would have been a pre-emptive strike against this kind of protest, and it would have played well to the public at large.

Instead, Mr Brown has decided to hand the press to his critics. The fact that the police decided to intervene earlier today only served to make the protesters more angry, and increase public sympathy towards them.

This is yet another relatively simple political situation for Brown’s team to handle, yet they appear to have failed to manage it effectively.

Many political pundits are already saying it’s impossible for Gordon to win the next election. If he doesn’t get a grip soon, I’ll start believing them.

» Image Credit: Original photograph by Rama, modified under licence

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, , , .

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. Information about cookies and the handling of emails submitted for the 'new posts by email' service can be found in the privacy policy. This site uses affiliate links: if you buy something via a link on this site, I might get a small percentage in commission. Here's hoping.