There was a most awful sight on the television News tonight. Gordon Brown sat on a variety of brightly coloured sofas curling his lips back from time to time to show his teeth. It was like watching a blind man who has had the action of smiling described to him and who was trying to replicate it from the description. This combined with that strange tic Brown has in his lower jaw, reminded me of John Mills as the idiot in Ryan’s Daughter, the more compellingly awful a performance because we know what he is really like.
Brown is the strong, unpleasant, feared tyrant or he is nothing. Once he sits on sofas with a fake smile on his face desperate to be popular, then he is Tony Blair without the charisma and frankly I would prefer the real phony thing to the fake phony one.
Here is a man whose chief selling point (by his own lights, not mine) is grim rectitude, stern morality and unbending dedication to the public service, grinning uncomfortably on sofas. It was like watching an old brown bear wheeled out to entertain the crowd, batting away candyfloss with a distorted smile instead of beating off dogs with his great paws as he had done in his prime.
I think him a devious and deeply dishonest man who would part grannies from their blouses and “losers” from their pensions and who has built his reputation on the back of external factors and off the backs of anyone whose approbation he does not need.
Dishonest he may be in the execution of his political role, but his only attraction has been his refusal thus far to stoop to the personal dissimulation which characterised Blair’s ten years. One can have respect to some extent for a strong unpleasant leader even while loathing and fearing him – look at Putin for example – but not for one who begs to be liked.
Have I Got News for You recently ran (and re-ran several times) a clip of Brown at the moment when he thought the camera moved off him. The grimace which passes for a smile turned off like a light-bulb. We know that it is all fake, that as soon as he leaves the sofa the real Gordon Brown will snap back into place, so what is achieved by pretending otherwise?.
It is said that he is doing this for the female vote. Those women who like him anyway do so not for his charm or smoothness but for their opposite, that rough, untutored, indifferent, unkempt manliness which, combined with obvious intelligence is attractive to many. No woman is going to be taken in by a man who behaves like a grizzly for ten years and then suddenly switches on a patently false smile, puts on a clean suit, gets his hair cut and begs for approval.
They are more likely to lose respect for the grizzly than fall for the fake charmer whom we saw cavorting on sofas this evening.