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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project