Matthew Norman: Gordon must marry Lily (or possibly Keira)

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At the risk of seeming impertinent, intrusive and plain offensive, I have some kindly-meant advice for Gordon Brown. There is a way he can save himself after all, but it isn't by waving like an imbecile on America's Got Talent, spending quality time on the GMTV sofa, or any of the other image-softening stunts the wise Nestors of Downing Street may recommend.

It is this. He must ditch Sarah at once and marry Lily Allen. Or Konnie Huq. Or Keira Knightley. Or any other twentysomething tabloid sweetheart. It doesn't much matter which. So long as she's very young, feisty and alluring, she could well constitute the electoral Viagra required to revive his flaccid leadership.

A core problem for Gordon is the same weakness that doomed his friend and compatriot Menzies Campbell. The poor schlub is a monochrome, puritan politician in a high definition, Eurotrash age, with not a clue about what's demanded of a modern European leader.

It's a generational thing rather than a matter of age. Silvio Berlusconi is 71, and for all the hair transplants and a permatan to make the lovechild of Peter Hain and Judith Chalmers look like an albino with pernicious anaemia, the Italians knew that when they gave him his third term as Prime Minister this week. What they also knew is that he's such a lovable rascal when it comes to the ladies.

John McCain is also 71, and a rumour propagated by the New York Times a while ago about an affair with a blonde lobbyist young enough to be his daughter did his poll numbers only good. Even in the US, a country Joan Smith rightly described here on Wednesday as one of nauseating religiosity, voters relish the idea of a sexual rogue with age-defying stores of testosterone.

This is primarily a European issue, however, and here the precedents couldn't be clearer. Even more than Berlusconi, whose propositioning of young women provoked that bizarre exchange of public letters with his (much younger actress) wife a few years ago, our continent's other two charismatic, dwarfine leaders provide a precedent to which even Gordon, for all his stubbornness, can no longer afford to turn his blind eye. The tale of Nicolas Sarkozy is already well known. There he was, the little fella, his platform shoes deep in the political quicksand after barely a few months in the Elysée Palace, a terrible disappointment to his own people and a snigger-worthy joke to the world beyond. The next minute he lands Carla Bruni, a trophy as glimmering and lustrous as the Jules Rimet... and wham bam, thank you ma'am, he's a hero to us all.

If some would wish to ask Ms Bruni the classic Mrs Merton question ("What was it that first attracted you to the midget President of the French Republic?"), a little light ridicule is a tiny price to pay for such a dramatic resurrection.

Less celebrated, possibly because the news only broke this week, is a politico-sexual bombshell in Russia. According to reports in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is poised to jettison his wife Lyudmila Putina (her surname is now believed to be a contraction of "Putina-divorce-settlement-dacha-in-Sochi-under-heavy-guard-and-left-to-rot-ovichskaya") in order to marry a certain Alina Kabaeva.

Ms Kabaeva – and this is just too good to be true – is a 25-year-old rhythmic gymnast, so fire off your own gags at will. All I'm prepared to say, at least until I've located the family Geiger counter, is that not since Catherine the Great's horse last dangled from its Imperial Palace winch can the partner of a Russian leader have been expected to carry the amorous burden to such a degree.

On Tuesday, I spent a blissful hour in a Liverpool garden reminiscing with an unreconstructed Communist. This utterly magnificent woman, 92 years young to borrow from the late Hughie Green, argued that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a significant tactical victory for Nikita Khrushchev. While I could not entirely agree with that historic reading, I could share a poignant yearning for the days when the occupants of the Kremlin had wives who struggled to touch their kneecaps, let alone arrange their bodies into impossible shapes.

Although Khrushchev's missus Nina Petrovna was quite a beauty in her youth, she'd mutated into the hatchet-faced boot of stereotype by the time Nikita was banging his shoe on the UN table.

Of her successor as First Babushka, little need be said. Little, in fact, can be said, since almost nothing is known of Mrs Leonid Brezhnev. There isn't a single picture of Viktoria Petrovna on Google Images, but from memory she could have frozen the engine of a Soviet tank just by glancing down on it from a Red Square balcony.

Younger readers won't remember the amazement that greeted Raisa Gorbachev's arrival on the scene in 1985. The future second Mrs Putina certainly won't, because she was two then and much too busy training under the USSR's humane gymnastics programme of the time to have a care for current affairs. But the notion of an elegant, photogenic Russian leader's wife came as an enormous shock.

Less than a quarter century later, the prospect of a Russian President – soon to yield office, admittedly, but not power – taking a babelicious contortionist down the aisle seems the most natural thing in the world. And small wonder, given how overtly genital democratic politics, with the constant reference to cojones, have become.

Look away now if you're eating breakfast – no, honestly, do look away and come back later – but just before the last general election, in modern history's most viscerally repugnant int-erview, Cherie confided to The Sun how Mr Tony Blair liked to give her a good seeing-to five times a night.

God only knows why he imagined this would sway the floating voter to do anything but raid the medicine cabinet for the anti-emetics. Yet despite the living proof of his potency that was Little Leo, Mr Blair felt real pressure to remind the electorate of his virility.

Young children are no longer enough, and assuming that his lust for power hasn't waned, Gordon urgently needs to do the same... not by coaxing Sarah to share intimacies with the Daily Mirror, because she isn't that type of gal, and no one would believe her anyway; but by replacing her with a newer model.

My own preference is for Lily, because she says on her website that she loves to read (if not quite enough to judge the Orange Prize), and a shared interest is invaluable in even the most political of wedlock. But Konnie, Keira, Agyness Deyn, Fearne Cotton or any number of others would do fine, so long as she is half his age, gorgeous and a tabloid doll.

For greater love of power hath no man than that he lay down his wife, as St John so very nearly put it in his gospel, and lays down with his new one for his own ends.

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