We’re officially in recession, with a second quarter of ‘negative growth’, although we’ve gone three quarters without any growth. Unemployment is rising, so is crime, and house values are falling almost as quickly as high street names. So why is it, as a Conservative, I sorry for Gordon Brown?
It is an odd feeling. But I’ve had it for a long time. I think it’s because he’s actually not very good at his job, I’m sure he’s well-meaning and has the best intentions, but sadly he’s just not up to delivering on them.
I was first aware of it shortly after he became Prime Minister. He’d desperately wanted the job for so long, and when he finally got it, it turns out he’s not very good at it. It’s like being a child at Christmas, desperately wanting some toy, then, finally getting it and discovering that it isn’t actually anything like you imagined it.
What has really compounded my pity is the discovery that he wasn’t any good at his last job either. He’s basically spent the past 12 years turning up for work and hoping no-one spots that he’s bluffing, promising “an end to boom and bust” and sustained growth. Of course, now he blames the international banking system, as if it’s something new rather than something he failed to regulate or monitor properly. Or maybe he managed 10 years as Chancellor ignorant of the fact there was a banking system.
And bizarrely, all of us have known for a long time it was coming. I remember having conversations in pubs at least 3 or 4 years ago, speculating on whether it was worth selling the house and banking the equity for when the crash came, and most people I know can recall similar thoughts or conversations from before the recession.
The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing, but when the man in the pub can feel it coming, it really speaks to the incompetence of a man not spotting it despite having an entire Treasury of civil servants and economists.
But although I feel sorry for the guy, I feel sorrier for the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and homes on his watch and it’s time for me to move past my sentimentality. We all love the plucky amateur who refuses to recognise his lack of talent – shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent trade on it – but when he’s managed to rise so far above his level of competence that he’s running the country, and running it into the ground, he doesn’t deserve pity – he deserves the boot.