A lifetime's ambition...
Incidentally, I don’t think that yesterday’s meltdown came as much of a surprise to any of the press. Ann Treneman wrote this on Monday:
I joined the “leader’s tour” for the first time and I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Gordon Brown seemed exhausted, late for his own speech, stumbling over his words. Watching him up there, he reminded me of a performing bear who has seen better days, a bit unsteady and raggedy, but who, every once in a while, rears up on his hind legs and shows us what he can do…
As the Prime Minister left, to more wild applause, with Sarah still teetering, I hoped only that he was going home to have a lie down. The man needs a break.
For me the most revealing words (stepping aside from partisan heroics) of Brown’s little outburst in the car yesterday were not ‘she’s just a sort of bigoted woman’, but the ones before and afterwards. ‘It’s just ridiculous.’ They sounded like someone who has given up. Someone who knows he’s lost, but doesn’t know why.
I remember a Matthew Parris election sketch in 2001 about William Hague. I can’t find it online, but it’s premise was that, despite how incredibly upbeat Hague was being during the election, he must really have felt terrible – he’d spent his whole life dreaming of this moment, of when he finally got to drive the Tory party in an election campaign. And then he puts his foot on the accelerator and… nothing. I think it ended “alone, in the darkness, does he weep?”
Hague managed to locate a life alongside politics pretty quickly after that defeat. Will Brown cope so well? Shit, it really is enough to make you feel sorry for him.