This week the Prime Minister has shuffled over his own dividing line and joined the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and almost all political and economic commentary. Crossing to the other side, he has fallen in with the very consensus he had pledged his party to reject.The rest is, perhaps, a little less immoderate - but still absolutely worth the read. Simon Heffer, eat your heart out. Because Parris so rarely loses his cool, he speaks from a position of real authority when he (rightly) does. Heffer seems to spend his entire life in a state of purple-faced outrage about Labour and what he regards as Cameron's pinko non-Tory party so that when there is a clear win for the Conservatives - and on the one issue from which all others follow, the economy - he has nothing to say. Heffer is strong on economics and yet today he has been relegated to the ranks of royal-watcher. Interesting.
It would be difficult to overstate the significance of this capitulation. The debate will not, after all, be about whether to cut public spending, but about where and how. It is the debate the Opposition has for 12 months been demanding. Mr Brown starts now from the impossible position of trying to argue that he will be best fitted to do what until last week he had been adamant should not be done. But that’s his fault.The Office for National Statistics reports an imbalance between spending and revenue of unprecedented and unsustainable proportions — far worse than many thought or Brown’s demented Candy Mountain rhetoric implied. His characterisation of opposition warnings as alarmist and verging on the unpatriotic now appears to verge, itself, on treason. Opposition alarm has been, if anything, understated.
Cynical socialists (such as Alastair Campbell, to name but one) will no-doubt argue that in reality it's not Brown that's crossed any dividing line between delusion and reality, but Rupert Murdoch between Labour and the Conservatives. This is just spin - and daft spin at that. Again, it's Parris' long-established reputation for independence and objectivity that allows him to write this kind of polemic and be taken seriously. And make no mistake, he will be taken seriously no matter what the Campbells of this world would want us to believe and regardless of their increasingly sad, shrill and frankly feeble ad hominems against Cameron - like this latest one, referring to a recent BBC radio (surprise surprise) show he was hosting:
But the good news, politically, is that he [2nd rate impressionist, Alistair McGowan] had tried and tried and tried to do David Cameron but he couldn't.
'Is it because he stands for nothing?' I asked, and was pleased that the live audience got the point immediately.
He didn't know what it meant, he said, but he had tried long and hard, but failed, so Dave will not be part of his new routine.
'All that comes out is an upper-class whisper,' he said. An upper-class whisper. It could stick.
For the sake of completeness, I should report that he is also struggling with Barack Obama. There the comparison with DC ends.
(Boy, I'm so sorry I missed that one!)
And I simply do not get this part: "It could stick". Excuse me? What could stick? An "upper class whisper"? What does that even mean!?
"Dave" won't be part of anyone's "routine" any time soon because "Dave" is being taken seriously by everyone who counts (ie: the voters - check the polls) as the man who will be saddled with the unenviable task of trying to save Britain from Labour's debt catastrophe. Campbell might feel able to sneer and preen the tailfeathers of his vast ego, but no one else is in the mood to laugh at "Dave" just now, thanks all the same. I get the distinct impression that Alistair McGowan wasn't. And neither is Matthew Parris, it seems - a writer of considerably more import than Alastair "Dave Kelly" Cambell.
Suffice to say, the familiar whiff of desperation that's surrounded Brown's administration from the very start - like some sort of chronic BO - has become a toxic cloud of outright panic as the writing on the wall becomes clearer by the day.
"Demented" Brown will turn up in Pittsburgh soon and try to save his own political world with the kind of post-doctoral level of cynicism for which he will always be remembered, not fondly. This time, though, none of the other leaders will be listening because, as someone once said, he's run out of our money; he has nothing left to bring to the table apart from the deeds to the House. They know that and we know that. Even the cabinet knows that.
Only demented Brown seems to think he has anything left to offer a world that has grown very weary of his posturing and his lies.