Martin Bright

The Ultimate New Labour Insult

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Mental illness has always taken up a lot of space in the lexicon of New Labour,  I have always thought Alistair Campbell's own brush with the black dog had something to do with this. From Ron Davies's "moment of madness" to Gordon Brown's "psychological flaws", the terror of incipient madeness has always been a New Labour nightmare. I wrote about this tendency a few years ago but recent events have brought me back the subject.

It was telling that Damian McBride's emails contained references to Frances Osborne's state of mind - as if it would be a bad thing that she was upset by her husband's political misfortunes. It seemed inconceivable in the tough-guy world of the Red Rag plotters that their infantile fictions might result in the the British public to feeling  more sympathetic towards the shadow chancellor's wife.

There were some devastating critiques of the Prime Minister in the bank holiday papers. Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer was on form with his assessment that Gordon Brown is let down by his lack of emotional intelligence, while Matthew D'Ancona drew some important parallels with the Callaghan administration. Meanwhile, Jackie Ashley continued her assault in Monday's Guardian.

But it is the cartoon above Matthew's piece that really gave me pause for thought. Under the title "Thirty Years On" shows a strait-jacketed Brown on YouTube inverting Margaret Thatcher's 1979 quote from St Francis of Assisi ("Where there is harmony, may we bring discord; Where there is error. may we bring error..." etc). It's a chilling image that captures the Labour nightmare horribly well.