Is it just me or does anyone else think we have reached the nadir of modern British politics? I hold one appalling individual responsible: Gordon Brown. It is impossible to put into words the level of contempt I have for the man but I will try, damn it.
This is a man who has risen to become Prime Minister without being elected even by his own craven party, never mind by the public at large. His behaviour during Tony Blair's time in office illustrates the kind of man he is. I'm no fan of Blair but at least he could connect with the public and win elections. He had charisma and was willing to face his critics head on. He was the most successful politician Labour had produced for generations.
So did Brown do all he could to support his former friend and colleague? No. Increasingly embittered by the failure of Blair to honour a supposed deal to hand over power to Brown at some unspecified point, the brooding Scot began to do all he could to undermine Blair and wreck his policies. As the years passed and Brown's rancour grew, he ratcheted up the pressure on Blair to leave office. He didn't care a jot that Blair was the elected Prime Minister. Brown wanted power at any cost. The country was not even a consideration.
And what happened when Brown eventually forced Blair aside and ascended to power? We had a brief honeymoon period where the 'no-nonsense, tough guy' spin that Brown had built up around him distracted us, then his myriad character flaws came rushing to the fore.
Brown is a man who is detached from reality, who has no idea what real people think, who has no instinctive political judgement. He is a man who is paranoid, defensive, crippled by indecision. He has no political roadmap; no idea of where he's going or how to get there. It speaks volumes that such a man craved to be Prime Minister. He didn't want the job to make the world a better place: it was to fulfil a need within him. We all want validation. Brown thought being PM would be his.
Instead his premiership has turned out to be a nightmare the like of which would have broken any normal individual. But Brown isn't normal. Normal is the last word to describe him by. It beggars belief that he believes he can win the next election, that he can somehow convince the country to have five more years of his deceitful dithering. If he knows inside his flint heart that he can't win, why doesn't he step down? He gives the impression of a man who will go potty and barricade himself inside Number 10 when he's inevitably voted out of office. That would be a siege worth watching. I suspect I wouldn't be the only one shouting 'shoot him! shoot him!' at the TV screen as the police negotiators tried to coax him out.
Back to reality though. Even in ordinary circumstances it would be outrageous that an unelected PM was stubbornly holding onto power despite the sure knowledge that the public wanted him out. But these are not ordinary circumstances. We are at war. As the Sun pointed out today, it seems the UK government wants to pretend the hellhole of Helmand isn't really a war at all. But it is. It's a war that's claiming the lives of young men with appalling regularity. And, worst of all, it’s a war that can't be won.
But as the bullets fly in the sandpit, Brown keeps his head down. As we free the the only man convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity on UK soil, Brown keeps his mouth shut. And as a country that once flew high enters a irretrievable tailspin, Brown grips the controls ever tighter and to tells his terrified passengers, 'This is your captain speaking. I'm taking you all down with me!'