Simon Carr: Brown is in his bunker, with a final, inevitable crisis to come

The PM is divorced from reality. He can no longer see for himself

Share
Related Topics

Hazel Blears has laid into the government's "lamentable failure" to communicate. "Youtube if you want to," she mocked, referring to the prime minister's recent use of new media. David Blunkett told us of "a void" in the heart of Downing Street and said that Labour has "no underlying social policy". Charles Clarke is "ashamed" of being in the party. Alan Johnson's declaration of loyalty to the leadership included the words, "I'm not saying there are no circumstances" in which he might run.

And the smears, of course, we mustn't forget them. The smears, the evasions, the ludicrous foreign trips, the personal insults from foreign governments, from former colleagues, from committee chairmen...

Unnamed ministers are quoted as saying that Gordon Brown is "lashing out" at people and looking for someone to blame for the debacles of recent weeks. There are stories of rages and of flying office equipment. We all saw the prime minister so dazed with tiredness in parliament the other day that he didn't know whether he was coming or going. And he says, "I don't regret anything I've done".

If there are any television producers out there interested in the sitcom I'm writing, I hope they'll get in touch. It's based on Hugh Trevor-Roper's book The Last Days of Hitler and is set in the Fuhrerbunker in the spring of 1945.

Its merits are these. It is a proper situation with a group of unlikely characters bound together in claustrophobic dependency and animated by a brooding loser driven to the end of his tether by bad decisions, a coalition of enemies, and sleep deprivation. What with its wild mood swings, false information and absurd strategems, it is very funny. But above all it is topical.

Bunker life seems to be the same over the years, irrespective of race or creed. Our cabinet has nothing in common with the leaders of National Socialism ("Monkeys", as Trevor-Roper called them), of course not. We have a fine body of men and women doing an impossible job under very difficult conditions. But it's also true that our ministerial MPs are evolving out of their original offices into bunker people.

"Its leading politicians," Trevor-Roper said of the Nazi party, "were not a government but a court – a court as negligible in its power of ruling, as incalculable in its capacity for intrigue, as any oriental sultanate... " When governments run out of energy, they become like courts not cabinets.

Now that the momentum of the government has collapsed, its ministers become eddies of factional interests. And Her Majesty's Government is turning into a theatre playing out the comic drama of position, poisoning, assassination, betrayal. Added interest comes from the excruciating tension of a final inevitable crisis.

Does anyone think that Gordon can pull it off any more? That a programme of renewal can be conceived, worked out, written up and communicated in these conditions of perpetual bombardment? He has to cope not just with the casualties of the June elections, but the firestorm of MPs' expenses in July. Rumour has it that three or four cabinet ministers are going to be blown out of their clothes by lurid revelations.

Meanwhile, out there in the world, the teaching unions vote to defy the law in an act of collective civil disobedience. It's a little more than tweaking the prime minister's tail. That small collapse of our civic order could really be the start of something. An awful lot of discontent has built up over Gordon's decade of dirigisme. And the failure of authority goes directly back to him. He is the central disaster.

Boris Johnson was asked last week whether he thought power corrupts. He replied: "Power reveals." Power has indeed revealed Gordon Brown. It has undone him and exposed his workings, his mechanisms, his motivations, his modus operandi, his character, his destiny.

He has marched with an unerring tread from his Downing Street launch two years ago to his final bunker. He was always headed here.

The essence of bunker life is that you are divorced from reality. You can no longer see for yourself. Reports come through but they are tailored to what you want to hear, or what your courtiers want to tell you. Historians are press-ganged in to provide examples of sudden, amazing victories. Astrologers or economists provide good news, encouraging news. But time is only going one way, and usually there's only one way out of the bunker.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness