The Sketch: Gordon's raving all right, beneath a sky full of chickens

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The Independent Online

We all like a morality tale. But only if we're not in it ourselves. There's no telling how they turn out. Here's poor Gordon Brown right in the middle of one, and taking the starring role. Well, he applied for the role, he auditioned for it, he nobbled the star who already had it. He got the job he wanted so much. And he's no good at it.

Now, ineluctably, everything he's done in the last decade is turning against him. The biter bit. Hubris and nemesis. Sky thick with chickens.

Interestingly, the loss of these child-benefit records is insubstantial in scandal terms. It's unlikely to lead to significant harm and there's little reason why it should affect the Prime Minister's reputation for governmental competence. But so what? Black Wednesday put the British economy on a 15-year growth path and it destroyed the Tory party. Black Wednesdays may not be reasonable, logical or fair, but there we are.

I say "little reason" to pin it on the Prime Minister but there is some and Cameron did as much as a man could. It was a systemic problem, he said. The Treasury has been monstrously reorganised and a quarter of its workforce done away with. And all under the PM's instructions. Yes, it was all down to the Government. It was impossible to drag the Tories into it.

But not for Gordon. It wasn't Labour cuts that had caused the data loss, it was Tory cuts! Yes, £660m of Tory cuts! This created an enormous, demented roar from Labour. "Frankly pathetic," Cameron said, in that engaging kitchen-table way. And pathetic, frankly, it was. He went on: "What people want is for the Prime Minister to show some broad shoulders and be the big man." That may have been the moment when Gordon's id started getting restless.

Cameron went on to ask whether the PM's confidence in ID cards had been at all shaken by the data rape. "It's weird that he doesn't want to stop and think about ID cards. He thinks he can control everything but he can't run anything!"

And that's when the id reared up and swamped everything. He was raving. In the uproar, I heard him bellowing: "Lowest inflation for decades!"

Lowest inflation for decades? But that was the result of Asian savings and Chinese productivity. He's raving, all right. But that's the result of living in a fantasy world.

sketch@simoncarr.sc

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