Simon Carr: A PM on the verge of a breakdown

The Sketch
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The Independent Online

At least he didn't throw his mobile phone at the reporters. He didn't heave a printer into the room and curse them. But he looked close to it. Seized with a passionate intensity, the PM was deep in the other half of his bi-polarity. Poor fellow was jabbering like a tobacco auctioneer.

Too much coffee. If you talk at that speed in the Groucho Club they call the drugs squad.

"I am going to be totally candid," he began and went on to contradict himself at great length, in pedantic detail and at 250 words a minute.

He was asked, for instance, if it was true that he'd wanted to get rid of Alistair Darling as Chancellor and had been unable to do so. "No, no, no," he said with an astonishing lack of candour. His eyes narrowed in a look of great cunning (he thought we couldn't see). He told us what good, personal friends they were and how he'd been praising the Chancellor on Wednesday and how lacking in arrogance and complacency he was and ...

"But your aides were going round Westminster saying that's exactly what you were going to do!"

"Look," he said. They'd worked on G20 together (ah, happy days!) and he hoped the rest of the world would acknowledge this.

But his best line was: "I have faith in myself treating people fairly. This is who I am."

He's been through a course in presentation and has had key phrases inserted into his brain. As authors are trained to say the title of their book five times in an interview, so Gordon has been drilled to use words like "faith", "decent", "my father", "honest", "heart", "women". It won't work because they haven't got him to stop saying "Democratic Renewal Council". It spoils everything, but he won't leave off because it's his big idea. Three councils, or super-committees are going to ... but let's not get into the frivolous peripherals.

"I have faith in myself treating people fairly" is a sentence that can only be said by someone on the edge of a breakdown. My grammatical consultant tells me it's a fractured personality in the process of dissociating itself. Time will tell.

Sky's Adam Boulton went through the list of ministers, the unelected three peers, two returnees, and "new ministers in Defence and Health little-known and untested. Can you honestly say it's a strengthened team?"

By way of reply, the PM told us about the enhancement of the restructured Economic Council, "It's focus! It's energy! It's determination!" It's bollocks!

And Lord Sugar, someone asked. What was that about? Oh he was going to be terrific. Really? A sexist, bullying, loud-mouthed, multimillionaire reality TV-show star appointed to the House of Lords to promote the Government's core values? Now I see!

Fraser Nelson from the Spectator asked him to be honest rather than candid. The Institute of Fiscal Studies had taken Budget figures and seen 3 per cent cuts every year for three years after the next election. Was that the case? "Not at all! Public spending is rising every year! We'll ask Alistair Darling. He'll tell us the truth. Just by way of revenge.

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