The Sketch: The denial of a man who cannot accept being wrong

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The Independent Online

"Remember," one Labour backbencher murmured to me yesterday, "it's his finger on the nuclear button." He meant the actual nuclear button, not some other sanction of vast destructive power and unlimited casualties, like calling a general election. We were considering, I'm sorry to say, the possibility of a total psychological collapse in the Prime Minister.

Personally, I think there is a small but significant chance it will happen. The PM has one really fatal disability. He can't be wrong. He hates it so much he never allows it to happen. When wrong, his immediate reaction is denial and then obfuscation. He does it to himself first so that he can deny to us andobfuscate with integrity. But the impossibility of facing the fact that you are, have been, wrong... is lethal.

In the shadows of the Treasury, he got away with it for years. But now in the full spotlight, he stammers, stutters and stumbles so much that even when he's right he's wrong. On the Scottish referendum ("Bring it on!"Wendy Alexander had said over the weekend) Gordon was so evasive, the issue is still in the news schedules. Shailesh Vara brought it up in Business Questions. He recapped the evidence thus: the PM claimed Wendy hadn't called for an immediate referendum. But on Tuesday's television, she'd said affirmatively and definitively that Gordon had affirmatively and definitively endorsed her decision to do just that. "They can't both be right, Vara said.

Gordon's answer had begun by claiming she'd never said that about a referendum, and went on (underneath the incredulous jeering) about some damn review reporting heaven knows when. Denial, then obfuscation.

The right answer was: "She was issuing a challenge to the SNP to stop faffing about. She thinks, as I do, that they are a party full of wind with very little substance. I wonder if that reminds honourable members of any other party in the UK?"

They had all week to think of an answer to dispose of the question. Why couldn't he be clear about it? He simply hasn't got the talent for it. The clarity for it. He hasn't the character to be clear, because clarity reveals the truth.

The truth, though, will be revealed for him in the form of the lowest poll ratings in Labour's history. And there will be the mockery, defections, insolences, more mockery, betrayals, collapses, failures, yet more mockery and a resurgent Conservative Party stealing, as he sees it, his treasure, his precious, his political capital.

It will become clear beyond denial that he personally destroyed the coalition that provided election victories. That he never was prime ministerial material. That 20 years of aspiration for the highest office were... wrong. That's what will cause the collapse, if that's how it's going to turn out.