Spearhead From Space

In which FP gets worried that the PM is a potential Doctor Who villain

Since the election, I’ve felt a bit sorry for Gordon Brown, what with all the people who have rushed to gloat and put the boot in since his progressive downfall started. Last week’s Have I Got News For You featured a montage of his strained-looking toothy smile, his clunky body-language, as if the ability to smile and shake hands smoothly was indeed what really mattered in a leader. I can sympathise partly because my own smiles are often as bad as his, especially if I’m trying to pose. When I’m smiling for the camera, everyone else shuffles their feet and small children run away crying; so when people make fun of Gordon Brown for suffering the same problem, he definitely gets my sympathies.

People’s reaction to his clunkiness, though, just goes to show how much people are concerned today with style and slickness over intellect; and Gordon Brown’s defeat, which people are already treating as much less narrow than it actually was, is only going to reinforce that. When we see David Cameron and Nick Clegg standing together, I get an uneasy squirming horror-film feeling that something is not quite right: that we’re not watching real people, but some sort of shiny artificial human-mimicking lifeform whose twin bodies are slowly converging onto one set of features. By the end of this parliament, we’ll be ruled by Cameregg, one creature with two identical bodies, identical faces with features so blandly generic you could barely pick them out from a crowd. Ed Balls, and the Miliband brothers, might well be part of the same species: some sort of bizarre alien trying to put on a human face but turning into an inhuman everyman. It might just be the effect of modern spin-driven media-friendly politics – or maybe the Autons are real after all.

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3 comments on “Spearhead From Space”

  1. Iain says:

    “…strained-looking toothy smile, his clunky body-language, as if the ability to smile and shake hands smoothly was indeed what really mattered in a leader”

    While GB gets sympathy for being derided for being so unaesthetic, he did give in to it and unwillingly played the game. It does seem that elections now are a contest between PR companies instead of their clients. That said, what would the result have been if Vince Cable had been Labour leader?

    I’ve seen elsewhere that Cameron has been given the nickname, “Avatar”.

  2. Bloggsworth says:

    Since Kennedy and the latter-day Camelot, appearance does matter; specially since Blair changed the thrust of British political life towards the presidential style of presentation. Gordon Brown was gauche in the extreme, his inability to connect with people added to his , allegedly, vile temper, only compounded his inability to take the simplest of decisions with anything remotely approaching alacrity. How a man who, in his 50s, is still biting his fingernails, a classic indicator of the indicisive, got to be “voted” (and I use the word pejoratively) leader of his party speaks volumes for the weakness of the Labour Party. On which point, why would I now vote for any of those putting themselves forward for the post when they hadn’t the cojones to challenge Brown when Blair retired to his multi-millionaire lifestyle?

  3. Forest Pines says:

    You can, in a sense, blame an awful lot of modern politics on that one famous TV debate between Kennedy and Nixon back in 1960. I suspect that Brown “gave in and played the game” because he felt he had to in order to get where he wanted.

    I’m not sure any of the likely Labour leadership candidates would have been seen as viable alternatives three years ago, due to experience. A better question would be: why were none of Brown’s cabinet colleagues unwilling to stand against him, if only to give him the opportunity to demonstrate a genuine level of support.

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