Simon Heffer

The prospect of Gordon Brown becoming PM should fill all sane people with dread

The prospect of Gordon Brown becoming PM should fill all sane people with dread

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The last time I wrote about the deranged, unEnglish and presbyterian socialism which Gordon Brown longs to inflict upon us, I had a letter from a doctor. He said my piece was basically worthless because it had missed the fundamental point. ‘Mr Brown,’ the doctor wrote, ‘has Asperger’s Syndrome.’ Not being a medical man, I asked the most brilliant doctor of my acquaintance what he thought. ‘He’s just being rude,’ said my Second Opinion. ‘I’m sure he hasn’t.’ Neither doctor, to the best of my knowledge, knows the Chancellor. I am sure Mr Brown is not autistic. However, the Second Opinion provided me with details of the symptoms of Asperger’s. They include: ‘Lacking the intuitive ability to understand that other people have feelings and that they think thoughts that may be different.’ Hm. And then: ‘Because of difficulty in empathy and in reading and using non-verbal signals and in understanding levels of intimacy ...may appear impulsive, rude, socially disorientated.’ Interesting. ‘May have obsessive topics of conversation and interest, insisting on rules, behavioural disorientation even with minor change and must complete work and insist on routines. This may look like non-compliant or oppositional behaviour or perfectionism.’

You need spend just a few moments with the Chancellor to appreciate that he is a monomaniac. Deeply informed by his convictions, he is so convinced of his rectitude that he seems to think those with a different opinion must require psychiatric help. Because he is clever and can, when his ambitions require it, be selectively, devastatingly charming, he is impressive in an almost religiose way. He is obsessed with his destiny. He is, frankly, a bit weird. He may before long be prime minister. What then?

The Brown camp has in the last few days accused ‘the usual suspects’ of seeking to destabilise him by speculating about his Cabinet, his plotting with John Prescott, and the mortality of Mr Blair. All is underpinned by the assumption that Mr Brown will be the next prime minister as of right. It is an assumption that ought to fill all sane people with dread.

Some Tories laud Mr Brown as the means of getting rid of Mr Blair. But why should Tories want to be rid of Mr Blair? With his party diving in the polls and his popularity so low you need sub-aqua gear to find it, isn’t he better off where he is? Those around Mr Blair privately talk of the possibility of a hung parliament. If Mr Brown replaced him soon, and called an election quickly, wouldn’t it be far more likely that Labour would score an outright victory? Wouldn’t millions of potentially apostate Labour supporters, who have had enough of Mr Blair, return to back a man of undoubted Leftist credentials? Above all, would the Tory party have time to persuade its erstwhile supporters in Middle England, who deserted it before 1997, that Mr Brown is the best reason to vote Conservative?

So then we get four, perhaps five, years of the Brown terror. We cannot say we have not been warned: si monumentum requiris, circumspice. Much has been made of Mr Blair’s lamentable record as reason to ditch him. While one does not wish to intrude in Labour’s private grief, it might be time to consider aspects of Mr Brown’s own lamentable record as reason not to make him prime minister in the first place.

He is now spending almost £500 billion a year of taxpayers’ money without noticeable improvement in public services. He is wedded to non-radical means of provision. He shamelessly courts the trade unions as part of his power base. He boasts of growth, but this has taken place entirely in the unproductive sectors of the economy at the expense of the productive ones. Labour’s client groups are now entrenched on the public payroll in their hundreds of thousands, almost all performing useless jobs at handsome remunerations. His combination of over-regulation, heavy additional taxation and dirigisme is why the stock market has barely risen since Labour came to power, while Wall Street is up about 40 per cent. By any objective measure of economic improvement, he has failed.

He has torpedoed pension funds by his dividend taxation policy. His bloating of the money supply is storing up inflation. His new taxes have often been entirely sectarian, with increased levies such as stamp duty disproportionately affecting Conservative-voting parts of England. His Budgets have included many measures — ostensibly aimed at assisting mothers to go out to work, for instance by introducing Soviet-style systems of childcare — that seek to undermine the central institution of Middle England, the family. His ideology is deeply alien not just to the Tory spirit, but to that of most independent-minded English people. Allowing him the chance to impose an even less diluted form of this statism on the country might send Labour back into opposition for the best part of 20 years. However, the damage that would be done in the four or five years before that could happen would be both unnecessary and hideously wasteful.

As with many obsessed by personal ambition, Mr Brown is also graphically disloyal. It surprised no one when Mr Prescott revealed the other day, without the aid of subtitles, that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister had fallen out badly in the past. Mr Blair is no doubt shocking, but if Mr Brown cannot forbear to say so to those who will talk to the press, he ought to resign. This puts Mr Brown’s famed ‘integrity’ in an interesting light. He boasts about the strength of our economy relative to that of France or Germany, but still pays lip service to entering the euro and, therefore, inflicting similar misery on us. He has also suffocated enterprise in this country by his taxation regime, and got away with it largely because of the even greater weakness of our neighbours. For one who is so clever (as his friends often tell us) he can be, deliberately or otherwise, bloody obtuse.

A Brown premiership would, not to put too fine a point on it, stuff Middle England. He is the enemy in a way Mr Blair never credibly could have been. The Chancellor and his gang of Scottish cronies simply don’t grasp the importance of the economically productive majority in England who keep the whole Kingdom afloat. Mr Blair’s pals now say he will go a year into his third term and hand over to the Chancellor. That is very witty. By that stage (if indeed we reach it) the chickens of the Brown economic miracle will have come home to roost, and the brilliant Chancellor will look pretty tarnished. And Mr Blair will no doubt imagine that the history books will record that he had a magnificent nine-year premiership, and Mr Brown a disastrous three-year one. It shouldn’t console a single English voter that the present Prime Minister would be only half right.

Simon Heffer is a columnist for the Daily Mail.