Simon Carr:

The Sketch: There's capital to be made out of Brown's financial confusion

Share
Related Topics

The natural end for a beast as big and as bonkers as Gordon Brown is up the top of the Empire State building, swatting away biplanes. He roars and rails, he swipes his paws, but they come at him from every angle, pumping cannon fire. His grip on the radio mast must be getting weaker. Is it too late for flying lessons?

An idea has been quietly coalescing in parts of the media, left and right: Gordon is preparing an exit.

He gave that interview at the weekend, remember, saying how he could "walk away". Ed Balls gave it a little public nudge along on Monday, as well.

And for some weeks it has been quietly said that Mandelson will bump him – or cause him to bow out – at the spring conference and install Alan Johnson so that Labour can go straight into an election campaign.

In breaking news, if the Commons means anything, that date with destiny will be brought forward to the autumn conference.

Cameron slaughtered the old bruiser. Speaker Bercow had called (to some laughter) for a quiet, rational debate. That mended some fences with the Tories because quiet debate ruins the Prime Minister.

Quietly, Cameron kept coming back to the question of a central deception: how come Gordon's capital spending keeps going up, but the Government's Budget has capital spending going sharply down?

The Prime Minister roared. He babbled figures. He denounced Tory cuts to capital spending. He denied Labour cuts, then confirmed them, then denied his confirmation then post-denied his pre-confirmation. At least we understood what was happening to capital spending. It's going up. And down.

Labour rank and file looked on astounded. Their man had collapsed in front of their eyes. It was one long "Obama Beach" (as he'd called Omaha Beach, in front of the US President during the recent D-Day celebrations). He tried to say Ombudsman, he said Osborneman. He tried to say "the Polish Law and Order party" but he said "department". He tried to say Labour didn't believe in cuts, but he said Tories didn't believe in cuts. His figures came out backwards – in one data stream, spending rose between "1998 and 1992".

And his front bench sat there, more grieving than mourning. The corners of Douglas Alexander's mouth went down to his jawbone. Harriet looked dazed. Alistair Darling smiled a little Siamese smile as his master flailed and failed. And then Gordon sat down and leant across him AND Douglas Alexander to take advice from... the Tory defector Shaun Woodward. On the economy! That really was a Labour cut. Gordon cut his Chancellor in front of the Tories, his party and the television audience. That's how alone he is now.

NB: Speaker news. What an operator! He declared from the chair that ministers must no longer give policy to the media before Parliament. This collision course with the Government will infuriate the Labour front bench (but it doesn't matter what they think now) and please the Tories (or "the incoming government" as he sees them). It's going to be a very sketchable test of wills as the Speaker has the power to "name" – i.e. kick a minister out of the House. He must win. And he knows he has to.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
 

If Renee Zellweger wants to look different, who are we to question it?

Boyd Tonkin
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker