The Sketch: I humbly suggest that Brown is in Big Bother

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The Independent Online

"Humility. Are you sure that's what people want? Can't we do Omniscience, I'm brilliant at knowing everything, it's my best subject. Or Invincibility, that's another thing I'm good at, being indomitable and crushing enemies like cockroaches? Oh all right, sod it, Humility. What do I do with my hands?"

His best one yesterday was where MPs were pictured returning from their constituencies "with a little bit of humility" to do what their constituents wanted. That turned out to be doing what Gordon was doing already.

And again, he said to Cameron: "There seems to be an element of self-interest in what he [Cameron] is saying." That created an enormous cheer (from the Tories). And Cameron replied, "It's remarks like that that make him a figure of ridicule." And that created an enormous silence (from Labour).

So, his Constitutional statement contained the humble suggestion they "seize the moment to lift our politics to a higher level" and everyone understood the lack of humility to mean "seize the moment to lift my leadership to a higher level".

He concluded with the words: "Let us stand together for integrity and democracy." He must have taken voice coaching to get that out.

And as for letting the House schedule its own business? That's the essence of parliamentary reform. He said the Commons will be given far greater power to do that but (sotto voce) limited to Opposition business. Hundreds of clauses will pass unexamined through the House.

It was also oppressively boring. If his purpose is to engage people in politics, he shouldn't be boring. It's self-defeating. But a Gordon Brown speech has ever left behind a sense of rubble.

Anyway, he told us there was to be "a statutory code of conduct and an independent regulator". Because MPs can't be trusted to behave with honour the rules have to be written down in detail. Almost no one has broken the rules so this isn't as useful as it sounds.

Also, Gordon has reasoned, what if the PM were tricky, devious, self-interested, ruthless and fiercely partisan? What if there was a Prime Minister who so bent the world around him that nobody could trust his word any more?

What if there was a Prime Minister who preached integrity, clarity, transparency – and yet hushed up a report on an expenses scandal and refused to let it be made public and appointed the central figure to a government post?

Why, then you'd need an outside regulator. But why would Gordon Brown appoint one, if it limited his scope for devious partisanship? But there is already an outside regulator. He wants a law to create a regulator to regulate the regulator.

He's turned himself inside out and then done it again, so it looks as though he's the right way now. But we are doubly deceived.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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