The Sketch: Gordon scores pathetic points as the world ends

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The Independent Online

Now David Cameron has put his finger on the central fact of the crunch and, if he keeps pushing and poking at it, he will do the PM's head in. It is essential he do this. We need a scapegoat. Seeing the Prime Minister's brain blowing up, live on television, wouldn't be a pretty sight but it would be fair (see "steering Britain fairly through the recession").

Clarity, Cameron asks for. That, he says, is what the PM is refusing to provide. All these billions he's putting in to insure the banks. For how long? And what's the risk he's insuring? There is no answer. Any normal man would say he didn't know. But the PM can't say it. Emotionally, intellectually, professionally the phrase is impossible. Physically, too. If his brain put the words together his tongue would divide into five parts.

His whole idea of himself is based on omniscience. And in the great crisis of his premiership he is battered and blown about by the unknowable. Vast data flows swirl around him in multidimensional time streams – and when we look to him for an explanation he has nothing to say. He has based his reputation on understanding the unintelligible. But he doesn't know what's in those Capitalised Debt Instruments. Nobody does. He doesn't even know how many there are. Nobody does. He doesn't even know which ones are liabilities. So when Cameron asks for clarity and he replies "He's out of his depth!" and "He doesn't want to learn economics!", those are the words of a man floundering. We're all out of our depth. Nobody knows how this is going to evolve. The world's monetary system is moving out of economics and into metaphysics.

Nick Clegg was jeered at when he said the economy was "on the edge of a cliff". But he's right. "The issue is the extension of lending," the PM began, but no one was listening. Actually the issue is much more like "what is money, these days?" It's not a very auspicious time for politics. At the end of the world, we don't want to hear Gordon scoring pathetic points: "The only thing he says is do nothing!" And how Ken Clarke has different views on Europe. Of course, Cameron came forearmed: "The difference between this ex-chancellor and that ex-chancellor is that this one left a golden legacy and that one wrecked it!" It's true. If in those later years Gordon had continued with Ken Clarke's spending limits we'd be in a different situation. But he didn't.

simon.carr@sketch.sc

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