The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

Tag: Gordon Brown (page 1 of 2)

Why We Still Love The People’s Premiere

In that autobiography you may possibly have noticed former British PM Tony Blair is currently touting, the one called ‘A Journey’ (a title that masterfully captures the sublimely faux modesty of its subject), Blair compares himself to Princess Di.

‘“We were both, in our own way, manipulators” — good at grasping the feelings of others and instinctively playing on them.’

The papers of course have seized on the People’s Premier’s candidness, making headlines out of it.  That and his observation (conveyed in a kind of morse prose) that Gordon Brown had: “Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero.”  And also his claim that he knew Gord’s premiership would likely be ‘a disaster.’

I agree with Tony.  Or rather, Tony agrees with moi.  Back in 2006, when Brown’s bizarre (and now conveniently forgotten) popularity with the media was rampant, just before his coronation as Labour Leader, I predicted, with Cassandrine accuracy, that Brown would be a disastrous leader of the Labour Party and that he had in fact already lost the next General Election.  I also compared Brown and Blair to Charles and Di, calling Brown an ‘operator’ and Blair a ‘great manipulator’.

Of course, it didn’t really take much insight to see all that coming, even if most of the media couldn’t at the time.  But in the piece I talked about how Blair’s ‘lying’ was what made him a much more successful, much more popular politician than Brown – who was very, very bad at it.  Which is not to say that Brown was a much more honest man – just that he wouldn’t and couldn’t perform for us.

‘Admitting he lied is not a mistake Blair is likely to ever make. Blair’s special talent, the thing that puts him ahead of most other politicians, certainly in British political history, is that he can convince himself his lies are literally the god’s honest truth, at least for as long as he’s telling us them. And – truth be told – in his mind, he never actually ‘lies’ to us at all. He’s an actor – an actor of the Stanlislavsky school: the emotion he shows us is ‘true’, it’s just usually attached to something that is not. This is why he’s such a great performer and politician – we appreciate and are flattered by the energy and the psychosis he puts into his performances. He is a great manipulator…’.

‘Brown on the other hand is a great operator. And operators, unlike manipulators, are painful to watch. They resent having to manipulate us and we resent having to watch them resenting having to manipulate us. Tony is Princess Di to Brown’s Prince Charles. Brown, who tells us he is ‘quite private’ and who prefers ‘substance over celebrity’ as if these were reasons why we should be interested in him, clearly wants power but he doesn’t really want to become the thing that power is in this mediated day and age: an actor. He won’t be forgiven for that by the electorate/audience.’

Brown’s desperate agreement to appear in those Election X Factor shows – in which David Cameron and Nick Clegg, both thespian heirs to Blair, shone with their ‘look, guys’ sincere insincerity – only threw his boring manse inflexibility into even more painful relief.  The electorate treated him with Cowellian disdain (the most damning thing of all was that those listening on the radio thought Brown had won the debates).

And even in the political afterlife the emotional gulf between Brown and Blair persists.  Blair of course is passionately hated, where Brown is merely despised. Or worse, pitied.

‘Doesn’t he look OLD?’ we spit, when Blair pops up in the papers or on telly, usually to tell us with those raised eyebrows how he doesn’t regret anything and didn’t fib about anything either, honestly guys.  ‘Hasn’t he aged BADLY?’ we gloat, pretending to be beyond his charms now.  But actually sounding just like a bitter ex trying to convince themselves that their former amore fell apart after the affair ended after he turned out to be sleeping with the au pair.

Truth is, Blair still has that Diana star quality – partly because he is still a great manipulator, but mostly because it’s so difficult to work out which side of the reason/unreason line he’s on these days.  You can’t but watch with rapt attention, trying to divine the content of his (Catholic) soul.

Dave’s Posh Skin, Nick’s Cute Hair, and Gordon’s Bleached Rictus

by Mark Simpson

It’s difficult not to feel a little sorry for Gordon Brown. Even if you really don’t want to.

I mean, imagine spending over a decade trying to wrest the leadership of the Labour Party – and the UK – from that insufferably posh boy Tony Blair and when you finally succeed the global economy goes down the toilet.  Worse – much, much worse – you find yourself at election time appearing on The X Factor faced by not one but two all-singing, all-dancing Baby Blairs. Even posher and prettier than he was.

If the instant polls after last nights final leaders’ debate on TV are to be believed, Cameron and Clegg are in first and second place respectively, with Brown trailing in third, but with only a few points between them.  A Tory/Lib-Dem alliance seems likely, with Labour heading to a historic defeat. You the audience seem to have decided that you want to see the super-posh boys from Eton and Westminster get into bed together.

Or perhaps you just decided you don’t want to see Brown any more.

I won’t bother rehashing what was said. Instead I’ll talk about what really mattered: How they looked on my 42 inch LCD TV.  Here are my notes, written in my best Simon Cowell:

General appearance

Cameron has round doll-like eyes, a round doll-like face, and a small doll-like mouth. In fact, he’s a nicely painted Edwardian doll that looks, despite his apparently affable personality, a tad sinister – as if it might be hiding one of those jack-hammer jaws in Alien. This is particularly apparent when one of the other’s is saying something Cameron, watching them out of the corner of his narrowed eyes, doesn’t like.

Clegg looks like the head boy everyone likes. I can’t bear him.  I want him to be caught dealing drugs.

Brown looks like death on toast.


Clegg and Cameron both have a high, creamy skin colouring which is incredibly posh in that strawberry blond sort of way. It positively glows privilege. Good genes, good diet and the kind of really restorative sleep that only serious trust funds bring. Cameron’s skin is a little too buffed and hydrated – his chin looks alarmingly shiny. Perhaps though it makes it easier for him to penetrate people’s rib-cages and tear out their vital organs.

Brown doesn’t have skin of course. Brown has pallor and gloom knitted and stretched around his skull – with handy, capacious pockets under the eyes for all his regrets.


Cameron’s teeth are surprisingly snaggly. Perhaps though if you’re really posh you don’t need to have perfect teeth – and Cameron’s small mouth is quite good at hiding them. Clegg’s teeth are better, but there is a distracting stain at the front of his lower set of gnashers. Clearly British dentistry has some way to go to properly catch up with American Presidential politics.

As for Brown’s: I can’t remember. I don’t want to remember. His lower jaw has a disconcerting habit of moving under its own volition, apparently unconnected to his head. Everyone of course has made fun of his bleached rictus smile so I won’t.


Dame Cameron’s hair is a helmet of streamlined terror. So strongly fixed in place it pulls his face backwards like someone experiencing G force.

Clegg’s cute hair makes you want to reach out and ruffle it. And I think that’s the intended effect. My eye keeps being drawn to a tiny lick in the middle of his fringe that has been oh-so-carefully teased forwards like a comma. Like an embryonic kiss-curl. What did it mean? What was it for? A visual reminder that Clegg was in the centre of politics? A trick to break up his Tefal forehead on our widescreen TVs? Or is this part of the carefully contrived hands-in-pockets casualness of  Cleggy? (I suspect the latter.)

Brown’s hair looked like a tabby cat that had been through the boil-wash-dry cycle on Gillian Duffy’s washing machine. Twice.


Cameron’s ears are even more streamlined than his hair. They’re not so much flush to his skull as internal. Clegg’s stick out the right amount and aren’t too big.  Prep school ears. Neither of them appear to be troubled by anything so vulgar as earlobes.

Brown on the other hand has earlobes that appear to run all the way around the outside of his ears. Ears so vast and parabolic they should really be part of the SETI project.


Cameron wears a suit so well-made, so expensive and so New Tory that it sucks in all the light from around him. Making his chin even shinier. His shirt is simply divine. You can almost smell the Irish linen dampening slightly against his polished, scented, pampered and privileged body.

Clegg’s suit is nice too, but is ostentatiously less expensive than Cameron’s. And a shirt that doesn’t quite fit his neck. But again, this is probably part of Clegg’s attempt to portray himself as a grammar school boy, rather than a Westminster old boy who actually has much more in common with Dame Cameron than with 99% of the viewers.

Brown meanwhile wore his undertaker outfit that he’d slept in the night before.  On Gillian Duffy’s front-room floor.

Oh Do Stop Nailing Blair to the Cross – He Enjoys It

Tony Blair’s Jesus Christ Sings Edith Piaf performance yesterday at The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, giving testimony at the Chilcot enquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, disappointed a lot of people who hoped he would get nailed – or at least express a few regrets.

I’m not one of them. Now, I enjoy a good scourging as much as the next man, especially in the wake of a war that has cost so many lives, but it seems to me that the expectations of the media and public played into Blair’s (stigmata) hands.

Tone the Catholic convert barrister excels at crucifixions and turned in a performance Mel Gibson would envy yesterday, hanging from the cross of his ‘belief’ that ‘removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do’. For all the spears in his side, nothing was made to stick. He won’t need to rise on the third day because unlike Our Lord Jesus Christ he didn’t die – instead he thrived.

Besides, the thing that many if not most people in the UK long to pin on him – personal and complete responsibility for our involvement in a disastrous US war – isn’t something that can be really pinned on any one British politician, however annoying his grin. It has to be pinned on history. The history of the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the United States.

Blair is more than happy to play the self-aggrandising role he’s been allotted by public opinion and the public is only further infuriated by the evidence of this.  Blair of course interprets his role not as The Man Who Invaded Iraq Illegally And Has Blood on His Hands, but as The International Statesman Burdened by Heavy Responsibilities, Special Knowledge and Big Decisions Reluctantly Made to Guarantee Our and An Ungrateful World’s Safety.

But it’s essentially the same role: A bigger one than he deserves. Blair is a much more pitiful figure than most of his enemies are willing to admit.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be offering Blair a vinegar-soaked sponge, but scapegoating him as all sides of the political spectrum want to do – He lied to us! He was sycophantic to Bush! A poodle! A narcissist! – obscures the larger, much more painful issue: that the UK invaded Iraq not because of weapons of mass destruction. Nor Al Qaeda. Nor Saddam’s tyranny. Nor Zionism. Nor even for oil. And certainly not because Tony Blair is a weak man or a strong man. No, in the final analysis there was only one reason why we invaded Iraq. Because the US wanted us to.

Jump is what military satellites of imperial powers do when their master tells them to, and it’s very difficult to imagine that any other British Prime Minister since 1940, with the possible exception of Harold Wilson (and look what happened to him – you can be sure that Blair did) could have said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to Uncle Sam’s kind invitation, especially after it had been attacked on 9-11. The fact that Saddam had nothing to do with that attack is irrelevant – or at least it was for America’s need for vengeance.

The Tories certainly wouldn’t have said ‘no’, and their attempts now to wriggle out of their enthusiastic support for the war – without which Blair would not have won his Commons war vote – by bleating about being ‘misled’ by Blair is just shameless opportunism.

The former premier that Blair most calls to mind is Anthony Eden, who was forced out of office after the disaster of Suez in 1956. Eden bigged up Nasser as a ‘monster’ threatening his own people and The World – and also famously lied to Parliament to justify  invasion, but this isn’t why he ended up shamed and shunned, even more so than Blair. By fatally misjudging America’s wishes, Eden had rubbed the UK’s nose in its post-war subject status. Suez was actually a much more ‘justifiable’ war from the point of view of British interests than Iraq – the canal was British and French owned and the route to (what was left of) the Empire.

But the Americans were not amused: they were competing with the USSR at the time for anti-colonial cred and told us to bog off back home. And we did, pronto. Eden was so reviled at home not for lying as many claimed, or even for losing, but because he succeeded in making it embarrassingly clear to everyone, most especially the French, that the UK no longer had a sovereign foreign policy. He shamed us in the world’s eyes. In our own eyes.

Likewise with Blair. Those loud complaints about Blair’s ‘sycophancy’ to George Bush over Iraq – well, really it’s mostly about how we don’t like to be reminded of our national sycophancy towards US interests, unavoidable as it may very well be. Sometimes its that very unavoidability that makes it so painful.

Blair, ever the actor, decided to make a virtue of what he saw as a political necessity. And in doing so found that like Thatcher before him the US gave him a global stage to preen upon. But this is what the US has done to the UK since the Second World War.

As a military satellite of the US – or unsinkable American aircraft carrier, as the great American anti-imperialist Gore Vidal puts it – we’ve been bigged up by US power as a way of further projecting that power around the world. Like, say, Austria-Hungary was by Germany in the early Twentieth Century, but with slightly less interesting headgear. As a result we have remained far too big for our post-Imperial, post-industrial, post-everything breeches. Though we of course prefer to term it: ‘punching above our weight’. As if punching above your weight was something clever. Even when you’re not teetering as we now are on the verge of bankruptcy.

In hindsight, to save our sensibilities Blair should have made it look like the UK wasn’t so easy. He should have made Bush wine and dine us more – and put up more of a virtuous struggle before giving Bush everything he wanted and was going to get anyway. Instead Tone seems to have gone the whole way on the first date. We feel cheap instead of ‘special’.

True, the way Blair and his minions set about terrorising us and his own party with fairy stories of WMDs was very naughty indeed, but as he now cheerfully admits, if it hadn’t been WMDs it would have been something else. After all, we elect politicians to lie to us. And did anyone, apart from David Aaronovitch, really believe any of it? Something else that shouldn’t be forgotten: Blair would probably still be in power and only hated by a small ‘bitter’ minority of the British public if the US occupation of Iraq hadn’t gone so spectacularly awry – he was remember, like his master Bush, feted by the press and much of the public in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. They only fell out of favour when they seemed like losers rather than winners.

Nailing Blair to the cross of Iraq now won’t change what happened, or even stop something like it happening again. In fact, by obscuring the real nature of our ‘special relationship’ with the US and instead blaming one man’s weakness and mendacity, it may make it easier for it to happen again.

And it is already happening again. In a war that threatens to make Iraq look like a picnic. Despite all the discussion and debate in the UK media about why we’re still in Afghanistan after eight years, what we hope to achieve, and what tactics should be employed, everyone in the media knows – but doesn’t say – there is only one reason why we’re in Afghanistan. Because the Americans are. Everything else is hot air. Or, in the case of Brown’s claims that the war in Afghanistan has to be fought to stop terrorist attacks in London: another 45 Minute WMD lie that no one believes.

Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of the Iraq Invasion and now Prime Minister in large part because of Blair’s unpopularity over Iraq, is very fortunate to have US imperial interests represented these days by someone much more appealing and persuasive than George W Bush. Someone who gets handed plaudits and Nobel Peace Prizes just for being elected. But however nice his smile is, the Emperor is the Emperor and our troops must still die for him.  Why are we sending even more soldiers to Afghanistan? To liberate women, build power plants, and stop people being blown up on London buses? No. They’re going because Barack ‘I-didn’t-vote-for-that-war!’ Obama says so.

Blair should be held to account for his actions of course, but we shouldn’t fall for his self-aggrandising view of himself and history. Even if it takes our mind off the rather vulgar details of the ‘special relationship’ and how embarrassingly, vanishingly small our influence is over our transatlantic boss.

Queer Eye of the Tory Guy Headed For Number 10

After yesterday’s disastrous Nantwich by-election defeat for Gordon Brown by David Cameron’s resurgent, re-branded, made-over, moisturised Tories, which came hard on the heels of the drubbing the Brown One received a few weeks ago in the English local council elections, the media – and a substantial part of the Labour Party itself – is now baying for his head.

I hate to say I told you so.

But I told you so.

Twenty months ago, in the dying days of Tony’s Premiership, when the media was getting all excited about Leader-in-Waiting Brown and giving rave reviews to his dreadful speech to the 2006 Labour Party Conference – and dissing Cameron – I predicted that His Brown-ness couldn’t win the next election:

The delivery of his speech yesterday was full of visual proof of this. I have no idea what Brown is like in the flesh, but on telly – i.e. the real world – Brown looks like a loser. Dead, hooded eyes which offer no contact with the audience or the camera, choreographed but strangely ill-timed, clawing hand movements and weird goldfish-like gulps at the end of each line. After nine years of Tony’s glamorous drag queen charisma, he looks like a particularly deluded punter auditioning for X-Factor while Simon Cowell pulls faces.

Brown may well, as he says, ‘relish’ the opportunity to ‘take on Cameron’, but Cameron looks increasingly likely to simply sweep him aside. After a couple of years of Brown-ness the electorate will stampede to elect the smooth, moisturised, green-ish manipulator Cameron, someone who knows exactly what we want to hear and how to coo those sweet nothings in our ears. By then he’ll be seen as Tony Blair without Iraq. Tony Blair without the TUC. Tony Blair without the haggard face.

Tony Blair without Gordon Brown.

Of course, Brown has been rather unlucky of late. But then, politicians are supposed to make their own luck. Or at least tell us stories we want to hear – and want to believe. Brown has proved singularly, catastrophically unable to do this. And it was staggeringly, appallingly obvious all along. True, things could perk up for Brown before the General Election in a year or so.

But I don’t think it very likely. Do you?

Gordon Who?

Excuse me, but who is our Prime Minister? No, really, who is he?

Yesterday I saw a dour looking Scottish geezer who looked like he’d spent too long working in the basement of a bank give a painfully awkward speech outside Number 10 about the changing need for change and how he will try us to his utmost, before grimacing for the cameras and scurrying inside. People tell me that he’s now our leader for at least the next couple of years.

That’s funny, I don’t remember voting for him at the last election. He wasn’t even elected by his own Party. And didn’t he rule out, just before he became our unelected PM, the possibility of a referendum on the new EU constitution/treaty? I get the feeling that whoever this guy is, he’s not exactly a great democrat.

Judging by his performance outside Number 10, one he’s had ten years to prepare for, I can see why our new PM might not be keen on public scrutiny – or elections. He’s never going to win any popularity contests. Odd also how after all the coverage of the handover from Blair to Brown in the last few weeks, not to mention his ten years in No.11, we don’t really have any idea who this man lording it over us is – or much real curiosity. His name could be Gordon Beige.

Yes, I know the official line. I know that we’re not a Presidential Democracy, that we supposedly vote for parties and not persons, but, frankly, that’s a tosh, and everyone knows it. It was already tosh in 1997, but ten years on it’s tosh on toast. As far as most voters in this ‘press your red buttons now’ age are concerned, Brown is someone who managed to rig the phone-voting and end up winning X-Factor (albeit the lower-rating, digital channel political version).

A ‘cabinet of all the talents’ as proclaimed by Brown won’t disguise the fact that his own talent as a leader in an age of mass media is hidden under a bushel. The more people are exposed to Brown’s charisma-deficit – and on TV he looks like death defrosted – the more they will rebel. Brown can talk as often as he likes about ‘the end of celebrity culture‘, and pray that people will be glad to be rid of Blair’s Hollywood ways, but it won’t change the fact that in this mediated age politicians have to be actors and performers who have to offer us – however simulated, however faux – intimacy. And have hair that doesn’t look like it’s been styled by a 1970s local authority.

Enter, stage-right, glistening with hair gel, moisturiser, and bottled shamelessness, whispering sweet nothings in our shell-likes, David Cameron who has successfully metrosexualised the Tories, and made them a more desirable, wearable, and almost shagable party.

Adding to New Labour’s woes, Brown is not just dull and unelected he’s Scottish – and representing a Scottish constituency. Not because the English are now plagued with Scotophobia (Scottish people are much more popular in England than the English are in Scotland), but because the Scottish are able to elect their own government. And a Nationalist one committed to independence at that. While the English are not – and Scottish MPs, like Brown, continue vote on English-only issues. Every time our Prime Minister opens his mouth it will remind English voters of their disenfranchisement.

Brown is aware of this. That’s why he plans to introduce a ‘British Day’. Which, of course, is not for Scotland or Wales: they would, anyway, have no truck with such arrant nonsense now that they are busy being Welsh and Scottish. It’s aimed squarely at England and the English. At keeping them deprived of their own identity and under the thumb of a Scottish-led New Labour dependent for power on Scottish votes. It’s not ‘Britain Day’ at all, but ‘Brownish Day’.

Not to worry though – it will probably be cancelled due to lack of interest.