The Sketch: PM ticks all the (wrong) boxes

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The Independent Online

Many of us haven't yet come to terms with the new Prime Minister. The smiling is still a disturbing sight. It's not unattractive but it creates dissonance. "Who's that?" I think for a moment when the photo flashes up. He looks quite relaxed and normal, glamorous even. Otherwise it looks like Gordon Brown.

Has he really changed? His syntax hasn't, so the answer is probably negative. Listening to him at the TUC yesterday evoked memories of him raving in the Treasury Select Committee. It was almost reassuring to hear the stream of Whitehall Esperanto bubbling out as generously as ever.

"To enhance the dignity of labour in the 21st century skills campaign the central message is by honouring our obligations to the international community to raise our game in meeting and mastering the future by working together ..." On and on it goes. It's not a speech; it's an inventory. It's a collection of talking points. It's box-ticking, with the boxes clearly visible.

And the argumentation is crude, too. He harks back to the ERM débâcle of 15 years ago. Look: David Cameron by Lawson's side. Hiss! Tory boom and bust! Negative equity and mortgage misery! Tch! And so any trades unionist who wants pay rises above inflation is on the side of boom-and-bust Tories.

Did this turn unionists' eyes into their souls and recoil from what they had become? I don't think so, but I didn't have a good view. How about "a British job for every British worker"? That's the BNP box ticked. It's a sign of our times that only the left can lurch so far to the right. Imagine Cameron suggesting language tests for Polish fruit pickers?

And: "As a result of your campaigns, three million new jobs were created." I must have taken that down wrong. I've got him saying that union activism created millions of jobs.

But we mustn't lose ourselves in mockery. We made the mistake of laughing at Tony Blair's messianic delusions in 2000. He told us democracy was a universal human value, and invaded Iraq to test the truth of it.

The largest claim Gordon came up with was this: The 21st century needn't belong to China, or America, but to Britain. Our descendants will say Britain really rose to global pre-eminence in the 21st century. This is so fatuous as to be harmless, you think? Wait for a while and maybe we'll see.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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