The Sketch: Gordon gets forceful. And very loud

Click to follow

It was more prime ministerial than most as it had been co-written by the prime minister. It was heavily freighted with praise of Tony Blair. "Your leadership ... your efforts ... your persistence ... your third election victory ..." and best of all "because of your leadership, the world has come together". I should point out that where the Prime Minister has no verbs, the Chancellor has no full stops. Whole paragraphs roll out as if on a surge of Highland whisky. And oh, the noise and furious delivery and the chopping, jabbing semaphore with which he accompanies his speeches.

He threw everything at us. We got the fact that Labour was (chop!) the party of free, universal education for every child on the planet and, on the other hand, (jab!) it was the party of the "first ever national system for free local bus travel". He's even more far-flung than the Prime Minister. The vision, the dream, the optimism, the raving; it is as I say, exhausting.

We're not just going "to meet and master the challenge of China", we're going to be the world's number one power in education. Oh really? When undergraduates need a literacy certificate because they're writing essays in mobile text? "We are the world's Number One Education Power! Parse that sentence or Die!"

"Why am I in politics?" he asked, ringingly, and went on to answer another question altogether. The instinct goes deep. He even ignores questions he asks himself. "I learnt from my mother and father that for every opportunity there is an obligation," he cried.

That's not true. His mother and father never said that. It's one of those things that politicians' speech writers started to say in about 1991. His parents also taught him, he says, to tell the truth and to take responsibility.

Maybe he just grew up too quickly before the lesson could take hold. What about "for every demand there's a duty". Did your parents teach you that? "Son, always remember that wherever there's a demand there's a duty."

"Yes, father, I will remember. But what the hell are you talking about?"

The truth is a very plastic thing in politics. He denounced the Tories for encouraging slavery (wasn't Wilberforce a Tory?) and reviled them for refusing to educate children (wasn't Disraeli responsible for compulsory education?)

He excoriated them for tolerating three million unemployed "to arrest British economic decline". Didn't Mrs Thatcher create the inheritance that Gordon has miraculously managed not to squander?

"Tell the truth and take responsibility?'' Make the claim and take credit. Our next prime minister.