Simon Carr: Mr Keynes' funny farm... a bullock outfoxes the fox

Sketch: Were the Tories able to dance around him laughing and shove a cat down the back of his pants? In a word: no

Tuesday 18 November 2008 01:00

What great good form the Prime Minister's on. He can't conceal the thrill in his voice or the bounce in his step. What eagerness he has to make his points. Everyone agrees with him, you know. All the world leaders. He's just come back from seeing them. They're doing what he says they should do. That's what everyone's saying. The problem came from America, the solution was made in Britain. Its name? It begins with Gordon ...

On the Tory front bench Cameron sat with his foxy expression, looking a little sharp around the front of his face. Osbo looked sick. It was a big moment for them. George has been accused of "talking down the currency". Criticism is a form of disloyalty. It is one of the Prime Minister's less attractive postures.

So what lines had the young Tories crafted for us at this moment of drama? We had "the tax con". We had "the borrowing bombshell". And the thought that "tax cuts should be for life, not just for Christmas".

Did that raise the roof? I didn't notice such a thing. Was Gordon pulped or pulverised or dismantled into his constituent parts? Not noticeably. Were the Tories able to dance around him laughing and shove a cat down the back of his pants? In a word: no.

In another word: unforgivable.

How can Gordon Brown get away with saying the Tories are inconsistent? How can he begin 10 sentences with the words, "They were wrong when ..."

He is now doing the four-letter opposite of everything he has bellowed and bullied at us for a decade. And yet he isn't ridiculous. His neo-Keynesianism is the very thing that got us into this mess by buying off two mini-recessions, and Keynes would be appalled by it. But the sheer bullocky energy of the man seems to lift him slightly out of his skin.

The intensity of his politicisation of the situation is, frankly, psychotic. He is creating his own reality. He's on the way now – but it suits him.

Cameron reads out things Brown said as shadow Chancellor: the one about a weak currency caused by a weak economy caused by a weak government – and seeks to tie the words to his tail.

It just doesn't seem to work. I don't know why it doesn't or what Cameron could say to make it do so. He does need a story, he does need one of them.

The trouble is, a proper Conservative narrative says that recessions are necessary – like winters are. We need downturns. We need short sellers (yes, it was a short seller in California in fact who "called time on debt" by selling property short). Repossessions, bankruptcy, failure, these are the drivers of our economy.

Turning that into a popular discourse is a tall order. But I'm not sure they've even tried.

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