Brown melts in a furnace of his own making

Last updated at 09:09 12 May 2008

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Treating politics as if it were show-business or marketing can be enjoyable. But it is not very illuminating.

We are told that Gordon Brown has an "image problem" as if he were a car that had gone out of fashion, or a Hollywood actor who had starred in a dud movie.

But Mr Brown's problems are real. He made them himself, and they howl and gibber around his bed at night as they return to haunt him.

That, and not his problem with smiling or his lack of mateyness, is why his party is now in danger of losing the Crewe by-election, and of being slaughtered at the next General Election.

Observant people have known for years that Britain's economic bubble was bound to burst. It was based on nothing real, just endless credit created out of the air by the wildly rising prices of mortgaged property.

There was also an equally unsustainable, once-only bonanza of cheap imports from an emerging China, which is now over.

A truly prudent Chancellor would have used those fat years to plan for the lean ones he surely knew would come.

Instead, he appeared to believe his own propaganda about how New Labour had somehow ended the era of boom and bust.

Tested by the Northern Rock collapse, he was shown up as an amateur bungler.

By claiming credit for the boom, he has ensured that he takes all the blame for the bust that is now biting in every home in the country - and which is the real reason for his slithering poll ratings.

And the man who now seeks the loyalty of his party spent most of the past ten years aiming daggers into the back of Tony Blair, wrongly believing that Mr Blair had unjustly done him out of the job he should have had.

As the disloyal whispers get closer to his throne, he is learning that you reap exactly what you sow.

He has even failed to deliver his extravagant promises of restoring the welfare state.

He has destroyed Britain's only world-class form of social protection, the private pension system, which he found in good health and has taxed almost to death.

And despite burying the NHS in money, he has been unable to succeed in the basic task of keeping hospital wards clean.

Failure, rash promises and intrigue leave him where he now is, virtually friendless and on the brink of personal and political meltdown.

This is not a matter of appearances but one of cold reality.


DATA madness is in danger of overtaking "health and safety" as the new enemy of common sense.

Any reasonable person can see that banning happy couples from being photographed as they register their weddings is plain silly.

The marriage register is a public record, and pictures of it could not even accidentally reveal anything secret.

But the Data Protection Act - based unsurprisingly on an EU directive - defies reason.

Again and again it is used, on the feeblest excuse, to prevent us from doing things that are perfectly sensible.

What was Parliament doing when it let this strange and restrictive law slip past?