November 26th, 2007

Honey Badger

schadenfreude corner

I never thought I'd watch myself typing this, but I'm beginning to feel a little sorry for Gordon Brown. He must be wondering why the hell he made that deal with Tony all those years ago.
He must have been fairly relieved not to have to field the Northern Rock business, but his successor as Chancellor, Alistair Darling, was less than convincing. Then there was the incident where someone at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (presumably someone who has now been transferred to the benefits office on Baffin Island) burned the personal and bank details of 25 million child benefit claimants onto two CDS, sent them via courier to the audit office, and they went missing. Once again, Gordon must have been mighty pleased not to be Chancellor any more, because it was Alistair who had to get up in the Commons again. After years of bland anonymity, Alistair himself may be wishing he'd never agreed to be Chancellor.

And now this. The short version is, The Mail On Sunday this weekend ran a story about a chap who was a donor to the Labour Party. Except he hated the Labour Party and politicians in general. It turned out that he, and several others, had donated money on behalf of a businessman named David Abrahams, who wanted his donations to be anonymous. This is against the law. The sums of money keep going up, as well. It's now getting on for £600,000. Mr Abrahams obviously loves the Labour Party. He just doesn't want anyone to know about it. So keep it to yourselves.
The General Secretary of the Labour Party knew about the donations, but he says he didn't realise they were against the law. Now he's quit. Prime Minister's Questions is going to be unmissable this week; Gordon has not had a happy month.

And I've been quite surprised. For an arch political bruiser, a Chancellor who easily rode down his detractors, a Westminster mover-and-shaker par excellance, Gordon has been rather disappointing as Prime Minister so far. I know others disagree with me - Michael White of The Guardian, a commentator I have an enormous amount of time for, thinks he's doing okay - but I've found him strangely uncertain and easily riled. All David Cameron has to do is keep taunting him until he loses his temper. Even Vince Cable - a very able economist who is standing in as leader of the Liberal Democrats - has been able to land some punches in the House, which is strange to see. Like him or loathe him, Blair would have just slam-dunked the lot of them.

Actually, now I mention him, I don't think Vince Cable is doing too shabby a job so far. It might make more sense for the Lib Dems to just annoint him as leader, rather than going through yet another leadership contest.

With regard to the donations row, all I can say is that if Peter Watt is representative of the people who lead us, we may be in worse shape than I thought. Either he understood the rules and disregarded them, or he didn't understand the rules at all. Neither position is acceptable.

On a happier note - for me, not Gordon - I now have the DVD of one of Blackmore's Night's Paris concerts. So everything's right with the world.
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