Mark Steel: Has the real Gordon been replaced by a robot?

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Oh no. It's got to the point where you start pitying him. Poor Gordon Brown comes on television for a press conference and you feel he's about to say, "Um, right. Er oh this is harder than it looks. I'm a bit nervous." Then his colleagues, just out of shot whisper, "Go on Gordon, you can do it – go on Gordon, read from your notes, uh-oh he's wet himself." And Tessa Jowell has to go and get a mop.

Eventually, when he gets going, he attempts to rescue his situation by saying, "I believe the British people will see that every day I seek values, and the values I value most are the hard-working families of the British people. Yes, there are difficulties, but if those difficulties prove difficult I will value those difficulties 0.6 per cent higher in real terms than in any other hard-working country in Europe."

One possibility is that, inspired by The Stepford Wives, Blair had the real Brown murdered and replaced with a robot. And this will come to light when, during an interview, Andrew Marr stabs him in the leg and Brown says "That wasn't very nice Andrew, I'm in this job for values, val-val-values higher growth than Japan that wasn't very nice Andrew."

The tragedy is he was waiting 14 years for this chance, plotting and waiting and anticipating for every moment of that time, and yet he doesn't have a single coherent reason for wanting it. Most people, if they were asked what they'd do if they were Prime Minister, would have some idea they could explain simply, even if it was only to ban show-jumping or legalise parrot food as a recreational drug or something. But Gordon, with all that time to think about it has never bothered working out what he wants.

Even now, as the Conservatives begin to remind us what they're about, he has no coherent reply to them. For example, after the London election result was announced, there was an interview on the radio with Boris's sister, who told us how delighted she was and she was going to celebrate all night on the roof at Millbank and there was so much champagne and so many oysters, and you expected her to carry on: "And we're having such fun because in a moment we're going to play 'catapult a piccaninny into the Thames' and whoever gets one the furthest will win a whole London borough of their choice."

Brown could play a tape of interviews like that and say, "look, I may be a mess but that's what you get with the other lot". Except he's spent those 14 years encouraging the other lot.

The next tragedy of Brown is he looks like he'll get the blame for Labour's demise, but their current plight dates back to Blair's reign, when party membership was halved, and turnout was the lowest since 1919. Labour's explanation was that people were "basically satisfied", so presumably canvassers said "Will you vote for us?" and were told "Oh no thank you, because we're happy as we are. So we don't want to upset things by voting for you."

And all this was before Iraq. With Labour's supporters disillusioned, as soon as the Conservatives could even appear coherent they were likely to revive. This may be why in London, where Ken Livingstone is seen by most people as distinct from New Labour, the vote was much closer than in the rest of the country. And Livingstone also had to withstand the efforts of the London Evening Standard with its daily barrage of venom against him, so you half-expected the headline on election day to say "Ken Stole Guide Dogs and Sold Them to Fund Austrian Basement Scheme."

One result of all this seems to be mass confusion amongst those who feel let down by Labour. This confusion hasn't been helped by the way that attempts by the left to organise alternative parties have descended into magnificently exotic disasters, splits and feuds. There are still millions of people who feel that Labour should have used their position to challenge big business rather than grovel to it, and that Labour should never have supported Bush. Whenever some of those people join together, such as during the recent teachers' strike, they feel they can resist the Eton revival.

But Brown's best move might be to resign as Prime Minister, and become deputy to Blair in all the jobs his old boss is doing. Then each time he can moan that he wants to take over, until Blair finally resigns, then Brown can take over for 20 minutes before becoming Blair's deputy in his next job, until they're both in a retirement home, with Brown saying: "He promised I could take over organising the rummy evenings after six months, it's been 14 years now."

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