Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gordon Brown and the importance of being Captain Ahab

At the launch of his autobiography 'A Fortunate Life' - available at all good bookshops and Amazon - a couple of weeks ago (before Brown's You Tube gurning appearance), Paddy Ashdown said that Brown had a small chance of winning the next election as long as he adopted a "Captain Ahab" persona. For younger viewers that's the fellow played by Gregory Peck (right) in the film 'Moby Dick' based on the book by Herman Melville.

Suffice it to say, Ahab doesn't do smiling. It's all lashing, shouted commands of "avast behind" and "there she blows", wind, spume and whales in 'Moby Dick'.

And, indeed, Paddy added that Brown should "never, never smile".

Unfortunately Brown then went and broke the spell and smiled - or gurned. And the rest is (recent) history.

The crying shame is that a couple of Brown's reforms to Commons expenses were relatively ground-breaking - i.e. receipts for everything and staff to be employed by the Commons authorities and not MPs. But Brown managed to make a pig's ear of them all the same. He has what John Smith called (when berating John Major) the "anti-reverse Midas touch".

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