Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gordon Bean

Birth of a nickname

When Vince Cable stood up today at PMQs, I doubt whether many people thought that he was about to give us an enduring image, still less one on the scale of poor John Major's grey underpants. Yet, by referring to Gordon Brown as 'Mr Bean', I think that's just what he's done. For a start, it has the ring of accuracy about it. The over-riding impression of the last few weeks has not been misfeasance, but rather a continuing tide of bumbling incompetence. With the latest continuing scandal over party funding, even if there has been fraud, breaches of electoral law and other disasters, Gordon Brown's tactic has been personally to distance himself - but this also means that he had no idea of what was going on. Just like Mr Bean then.
The second reason that this will probably stick is that Gordon Brown will hate it. A man who cannot stand criticism of any sort will loathe being mocked. Mr Bean is a figure for ridicule - and that is precisely what Brown fears. All the more reason then for this to become a perpetual feature of political cartoonists. The only problem - and I suspect the answer to this is being feverishly worked out in cartoonists' offices across the land - is what physical characteristic brings Mr Bean instantly to mind? The underpants motif was simple and effective. What is the equivalent? How Gordon Brown must be dreading the papers tomorrow...

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