Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Vote Labour! Yes, that really was the message

Related Topics

It was more like a memorial service than a campaign launch. Dull, dutiful, deadly. A husk of a prime minister introduced the proposition for the local and European elections: "Vote Labour! We sacked Elliot Morley!"

It's a well-crafted message perhaps but it needs someone who can sell it. There was only one suitable end to Gordon Brown's shapeless, listless speech: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the person you've all been waiting for! I give you...!" (Fill in a name. Any name.)

We'd seen the PM on his way to the launch marching through a mall that had been specially cleared for the occasion. He looked like the ball carrier in a gridiron game, surrounded by blockers to keep the world away.

The launch itself involved 50-odd ordinary people at lunch tables, each hosted by a celebrity – a famous address fraudster, a benefit cheat, a tax evader, several property speculators – all moonlighting as cabinet ministers. It's an interesting system we have.

Why weren't the "ordinary people" at work? Maybe they were at work, they can't have been there for pleasure. And they were anything but ordinary. Their positive, pleasant, polite questions don't exist in the natural world. They were the only 50 people in Derbyshire who were going to vote Labour.

After the PM had finished he sat down and buried his head in his notes. Too serious to look at the audience. There were questions. Sample: "What can we do to help people back to work?" He answered. His smile came and went at intervals, as if on a time switch, like those devices to persuade passers-by there's someone at home. No one listened.

Then, to show how collegiate he is, one, two, three cabinet ministers stood up to speak. Alistair Darling. The audience tactfully looked away. Darling has a property portfolio that would make Cardinal Wolsey's nose itch with envy. Then Jacqui Smith appeared on a pay-per-view basis. And then Hazel Blears. You will remember her TV appearance where she denounced herself, and angrily brandished her cheque. To be so self-righteous and so self-accusing was an amazing feat. But here's a point – she can claim that money back from the Fees Office. It was expenditure wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred in connection with her parliamentary duties. She's entitled.

No, but the mystery remains – as PM you are trying to establish your cabinet as a model of episcopal integrity. You announce by way of example you have sacked one of your envoys because he's been found with his snout in the pork barrel. But then, immediately, you put up a threesome whom the public see as the most gluttonous trough artists in the whole sty.

Maybe the Government has somehow lost its knack? A small thought, to try out on a friend.

React Now

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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little