The Sketch: Gordon would like to be seen as Mr Substance, but he talks a lot of piffle

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The Independent Online

He's not very sketch-friendly, Gordon (as Mariella couldn't bring herself to call him). He really is a world-class bore. It's not clear how many people agree with this proposition, or how much of a drawback it might be. He is certainly very popular with his people in the hall, he has a moral vision, he wants the best for us all but for (I'd guess) 38 per cent of the population, watching concrete set will have more narrative interest than seeing him answering questions.

There was one good laugh when he described Nixon as being "a bit gauche". That was daring, considering. The US president was described going round a welcome crowd in a newly independent African country shaking hands and repeatedly asking, "How does it feel to be free?" This told by the man who greeted a staff nurse on a hospital visit with the earnest inquiry: "And how's the modernisation going?"

But when you do listen closely, something surprising emerges. For someone who puts himself forward as Mr Substance he talks more lightweight piffle than you might think. Here are extracts from his Q&A.

Where schools are failing it's not good enough. People want to be treated as people. There will be dignity for everyone working in the economy. The whole world is to work together and not divide off into blocks. The tasks are: to listen and learn, involve and engage, govern and campaign. It is good to continue with the policy of reaching out. And how will he raise standards in schools? "By doing everything in our power."

Asked when, exactly, we would be able to see our GPs in the way he had promised, he gave three answers: 1) Immediately; 2) Within weeks; 3) A review had been set up to look into it.

It is by no means clear how his objectives are to be reached other than by him telling people to do what he wants. And there lies the fruitful ground for pessimists.

Everything Gordon touches turns to politics. For some people, that's a positive. They actively like everyone being involved in politics. For them, it's a civic duty. But for others, applying to join a hierarchy with him at the top is very counter-productive of happiness. Citizen juries, reviews, commissions, hearings: his plan for "inclusion" is based on Britain becoming more and more politicised.

And remember: the more rights he gives us, the more responsibilities he'll be able to impose. This is all going in one direction, I promise you.

PS: "So that everyone can get the best chances," he said, twice. Didn't we laugh at that Labour chump who said that everyone was going to be above average? Gordon's plan seems to be that everyone is going to get a job at the Treasury. I'd like to be Chief Secretary, I think.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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