May 18, 2010

A thousand years hence, when they come with sieves and brushes to dig up the past, future archaeologists will no doubt discover the fingernails of Gordon Brown still left embedded in the doorframe to No 10 as he struggled to stay on. They will also detect the sulfurous trace of Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell and the lingering stench of failure. After all too long, Blair and Brown are history. Politics is a funny thing. Long live democracy.

I am not a vindictive man. Indeed, I feel blessed to receive the odd (sometimes exceedingly odd) brickbats and crank e-mails accusing me of being “€˜despicable”€™, “€˜a tit”€™, and “€˜a loser”€™ following my pieces for takimag. So much better than to go ignored. But of one thing I am certain. Millions of Britons will have dared breathe again at the sight of the leaden, usually graceless and wholly unelected Brown being driven by armored limousine into well-deserved oblivion. He might have risen to his departure with some aplomb and delivered a finely-crafted valediction. It was surprising; it was almost moving; it was akin to a burglar pausing to recite a poem.

Thirteen years ago, the New Labour spin to the electorate was “€˜things can only get better”€™. Look at us. Brown and his “€˜progressive”€™ coterie of incompetents have left behind them wreckage on an unimaginable scale. Many of us would dance with delight at their political passing around a Maypole—were the activity not considered “€˜culturally insensitive”€™ and the wood not required as winter fuel in these coming days of austerity. We shall celebrate nonetheless.

It will be hell and Labour created it. Having promised an end to boom and bust, Brown provided the worst bust beyond living memory. He talked of Prudence and then allowed Profligacy to shoot her in the back of the head and bury her in a shallow grave. On every count, he should be condemned. Expand the state and throw money at all problems; remove civil liberties and individual responsibility and replace them with dependency and dictatorship and bureaucratic meddling; permit spin, mendacity and ineptitude to rule. Such was the Labour way and such was the continuing gullibility of the British electorate. We are where we are. And we will pay.

“The first vote I ever cast was for Margaret Thatcher. One knew precisely where she would stand on any given issue and where she intended to head.”

Gaze upon the legacy of Gordon Brown and learn well. This is the man who broke the bank. This is the man who brought the country to its knees. This is the man who raided our pensions and sold off our gold. This is the man with contempt for parliament who—with Blair—reduced the legislature to little more than a rubber-stamp for his junta. This is the man so uncomfortable in his skin he deemed as bigots any who criticized. And this is the man who hollowed out our armed forces and through parsimony and arrogance sent our young soldiers and airmen to their deaths. Few will forgive him.

The first vote I ever cast was for Margaret Thatcher. Because she had backbone and a creed, she also had integrity. One knew precisely where she would stand on any given issue and where she intended to head; one understood that here was a brilliant mind and an uncommon politician. She was absolutely right for her time. Yet it made some of the spineless eunuchs around her appear all the more inadequate. Contrast Thatcher with Brown. Then laugh.

Some years ago the then-leader of the Tories, William Hague—using a line I had e-mailed his speechwriter George Osborne—pointed at Tony Blair across the Commons debating chamber and said: “€˜I have been accused of putting too many jokes in my speeches. At least I don”€™t follow the Prime Minister’s example and put them in my Cabinet”€™. With the Liberal Democrats now embraced into the coalition fold, that joke might well be on us. 

We shall see. Of course, the LibDems will continue to bleat about electoral reform in the myopic belief that with Proportional Representation they alone have the answer to the perceived democratic deficit. Yet they scarcely have a mandate to push their agenda given the fall in the number of their seats. As with small men, humility is not the strongest suit of this jumped-up little party. In fact there are many kinds of possible voting system and PR is just one. The surest way to correct the democratic imbalances is to move towards English devolution and ensure Scots MPs and the rest of the Celtic fringe can never interfere in the political and economic affairs of England.

These things are for the future. The priority must be to slash the crippling deficit and reintroduce discipline, competence and enterprise. Labour added 1.6 million public servants to the state payroll. They should go. Labour presided over the creation of 45,000 managers for the bloated NHS. Halve their number. Labour has—as David Cameron pointed out—confused the state with the economy, has established quangos, bureaucracies and development boards that have consumed billions of pounds and contributed not a penny. Let the bonfire of the inanities begin.

Gordon is gone and that in itself is something. As the legislative incontinence of three successive Labour administrations is stemmed and their burdensome laws repealed, as their hectoring and nannying ways fade to distant whisper, at last we may emerge blinking from our shelters. We shall need to be brave for this new dawn. But at least the view is better and air sweeter and the wreckers are for the moment banished. Rejoice. 


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