Will Self referred to Brown on television two months ago as “a man consumed by self-pity” and this captures the man quite well – but not entirely. He is also a man consumed by self-righteousness, self-importance, self-doubt and self-obsession. But perhaps if your surname is Self, you take some of this stuff for granted.
There were several low-points to Gordon’s farewell address. One was his insistence that he had saved the world, another that he had shaken the hand of fighting men. But the seabed of hypocrisy was reached when he said he was now going back to his main job as husband and father – he job he eschewed for some forty-eight years before somebody pointed out that his marital status was as odd as his smile.
And then the foursome walked forlornly off into the distance, abject and homeless, before turning the corner and getting into a fleet of limousines.
Other Labour stars left in entirely expected fashion, full of hate, bitterness and bitchy venom. Serial liar Alistair Campbell told us how 2010 Britain was in much better shape than in 1997, but omitted to mention the much bigger debt. Lord Mandelson told journalists he felt good about what New Labour had created, and good about himself – two things of roughly equal value. Charlie Whelan reminded everyone how a majority had voted anti-Conservative, and why everyone was sad to see a progressive Labour Government go. In the background, demonstrators could be heard shouting ‘Brown out’.
Finally (because he is indeed the final straw) Ed Balls left as he arrived – an overweight nihilist, determined from the opening moments of the LibLab discussions to be as rude, nasty and bigoted as he could possibly manage. A senior LibDem told The Slog this evening that Balls’ behaviour had been “like watching Norman Tebbit at his worst”. Except that Tebbit was a not quite housetrained polecat, whereas Balls is more your bubonic rat.
Whatever else we may have doubts about tonight, we are rid of this shower – hopefully, for good. As Cameron takes over, there is no triumphalism, no big expectation, no Blair-style celebration. Only the hope that we can at least begin to put the denial of the last two decades behind us, and face up to the cold reality that is so surely to be our fate.