I think he’s depressed. I suspect he’s been depressed for his whole adult life, mind you. But he’s just moved to a big new job and that’s triggered a crisis. Everything about his behaviour shouts depression. He’s turned in on himself. His instinct when things get tough has always been to retreat – hide out, pull the duvet over his head. He hates the aggro and the nasty, rude attention he gets from the opposition and the media.
He doesn’t rise to it. There’s no fight in him. It must be frustrating to work with him when he’s like this. All around him people must be urging him to get a grip, kick some ass, get out into the world and make a difference. But still, nothing.
Where is he this morning, for instance? Has he varied his schedule to sort out the funding mess? Doesn’t look like it. As usual he’s hiding behind a compliant phalanx of cabinet members. He’s in doors, wringing his hands when he ought to be striding the public stage, dishing out the presbyterian tongue-lashings, roasting Humphrys on Today, firing everyone within half a mile of the scandal, reshuffling, rewriting the rules, bringing forward legislation, hosting meetings, taking control!
Why is there still anyone at all at work in the party’s fund-raising bunker? Why aren’t they all licking their wounds in Starbucks, thinking about a change of career? Where’s the evidence that Brown takes this diabolical shambles seriously, either morally or politically? The Blair instinct – to turn a political nightmare into an opportunity to shine as a man, as a leader – is cruelly absent. Brown’s in a funk.
Here’s my conclusion. He fooled us all (well, me anyway). I saw tough, dour, implacable, unruffled. I missed terrified, lost, out-of-his-depth, passive, ineffective. This is a very scary time for Labour and for Britain and the man in charge has lost his grip, his marbles and his balls. Go on Gordon, prove me wrong.