As Labour goes into reverse and the LibDems go forth to multiply, the General Election is giving me feelings of guilt. Similar, in fact, to those which accompany giggling at a funeral.
Only the Prime Minister could say, the day a Guardian cartoon showed him standing in his own, home-made hole, that he would be “digging deeper” during the following week. This means he’ll be in Sydney by polling day, and can thus invest the next thirteen years ruining their economy too.
During the Paxman interview last night, I found the cringe-moments were for once exceeded by the hilarity of some of Gordon’s answers. Asked what he would do next with the economy, Brown told Jeremy what he’d done so far. There was no savaging of this bizarre ploy: it was clear the Beast of the BBC was holding back, and he was probably wise to do so.
No doubt his producers thought the sight of a terminally ill mental patient being beaten up by his psychiatrist wouldn’t be that funny. That said, had Paxo lost it and attacked the PM, the nation would’ve laughed themselves silly and applauded wildly: Gordon can’t even command the sympathy vote any more. Even best friend Ed dare only vote for himself. Sarah’s vote is secure, but that’s it.
The best line I thought came at the end when, having delivered yet another left-hook, Paxman could only give a slightly uneasy look as Gordon announced through loose teeth, “You’re a very nice guy, Jeremy”. It sounded for all the world like the doomed PM was going to ask his tormentor for a date.
Over at Guardian Observer newspapers, they’ve surged for Nick. ‘The Liberal hour has come’ Old G loftily declared, as if a Clegg/Cable Executive would have any idea what being a British Liberal might be about. Anyway, there’ll be some relief among my circle that anti-Labour sentiments might get into the Guardian’s comment threads in future, and Mandy writing opinions signed ‘Business Boy’ day in day out will at last cease.
In the meantime, the Leader piece was itself unintentionally funny. So complex are the tactical voting possibilities now, as the Guardian oped developed (or rather, unravelled), it began to read like a physics lesson about hot bodies and cold bodies:
‘All those readers in LibDem-third constituencies – vote Labour, and all those Labour losers in Tory constituencies vote LibDem, and then this will mean that all those Tories who aren’t thinking about voting LibDem in third rate constituencies will have wasted their votes and thus in all the Tory seats where Labour is second-rate, the Labour voters should draw straws with the LibDem voters to see, on the basis of Gordon’s latest poll slump, which way they should vote – but remember not to vote too much for Labour, otherwise there might be a revival because what we really want you Labour no-hopers to do is fall on your swords so we can keep the Tories out. Then halve the number you first thought of, add your age and the answer should be that we do a deal with the Cameroons and you get consigned to history’.
All the foregoing references to death act as a foretaste of my thesis: that we may indeed be watching the solemn interment of the Labour Party. But like everything from that quarter, the enormous gap between the Left’s aspiration and achievement is bound to ensure something will happen to remove any semblance of dignity from the occasion. Much of this will stem from the fact that crowd scenes will, I fancy, contain more of those ready to dance on the coffin than mourn at the graveside. Also, the presence of placards declaring ‘Hang Bradshawe NOW!’ and ‘Garotte Mandelson without anaesthetic’ will dilute a fair amount of the solemnity on display.
For David Cameron, attendance at this burial is proving rather tricky. Much as he too would like to bring the crucifix and silver bullets to ensure that Labour is now deceased (and not about to join the ranks of the haunting Undead) he mustn’t display any of this triumphalism. This has nothing to do with manners and everything to do with trying to stop The Surge. Thus I suspect if the body fell out of the coffin (and with Burnham and Balls among the pall-bearers, this is highly likely) Dave would be the first to shout “See – he lives! He lives!”
What the Tories would like is for Labour to continue in existence as a vocal minority Party – attractive to the very old, very young and very mad – constantly criticising the LibDems for selling out, and begging for a fairer system of PR than the odd compromise carved out between the other two. If Dave could restrict its members to Wales and Scotland, even better: they’re leaving the Union anyway, and therefore Labour supporters could be referred to as immigrants.
This would have the dual advantage of removing what’s left of UKIP’s raison d’etre – for with the EU gaily gumming itself to death, a combination of splits, bankruptcy and not having any members left to obey the rules should mean that quite soon the Eurozone won’t exist, and Nigel Farage will have nothing to shout about. His will become a one-issue Party – dedicated to getting rid of Speaker Bercow – and (by winning in Buckingham) then forced to immediately disband. I jest: UKIP is to my mind a joke Party, but as I’ve said before, many pollsters will be surprised by their popular vote next Thursday. In fact, the funeral of UKIP is something Mr Cameron would not only love to see, he’d supply the Champagne personally – and not even put it on expenses.