Monday, September 24, 2007
The Singular Vision Of The Prime Minister, Mr Brown: Respect Is A Two Way Street, With Restricted Parking Between 8.30am-6.30pm
I am not sure whether the Prime Minister, Mr Brown, is familiar with the American rock'n'roll disc jockey, Mr Casem Kasem. I suspect not: he does not look like a man who has spent much time doing the hucklebuck. However, when watching Mr Brown's first Labour conference speech as Prime Minister, the catchphrase of Mr Kasem came to mind. It was, if memory serves: "Keep your feet on the ground and your eyes on the stars."
Mr Brown didn't say that exactly. But there was much talk about the rising aspirations of the British people. From a medical standpoint, these aspirations sound slightly worrying, a little like bluetongue, but Mr Brown is in favour of them. He talked about men moving up ladders, and women hitting glass ceilings. He is in favour of the former, but not the latter - which is excellent news for window cleaners.
He also came out strongly in favour of people. Mostly, these were British people. The British, he noted, had a tendency to "pull on their boots and pull out their boats", unlike foreign people, who carried guns and sold drugs. It hardly needed to be said that he was more impressed by the boots and the boats.
He also stressed the need for education, and demonstrated it himself, with two mixed metaphors. He pledged to "turn the silent rising tide of global warming" - possibly with the aid of boots, boats and King Canute's copy of the tides timetable - and, in an unexpected tribute to glow-worm farmers, spoke of the "golden thread of humanity which binds us together and lights the darkest corners of the world".
It was, I confess, a curious oration - strategic rather than passionate, and devoid of jokes or poetry. Mr Brown made too much use of the suggestion that his views have been formed by his meetings with people up and down the country. One of these people was in the hall: Mr John Smeaton, who wrestled a burning terrorist to the ground at Glasgow airport, received an ovation, and was allowed to sit next to the Prime Minister's wife. Another hero was a small boy called Max, who had uncombed hair - Mr Brown was in favour - and insited on reading the Prime Minister The Gingerbread Man.
Mr Brown didn't mention it, but The Gingerbread Man is the story of an aspirational biscuit, who runs from the oven, and is aided in his escape by several animals until he is eaten by a fox. The fox, presumably, was unaware of Mr Brown's other odd metaphor, that "respect is a two-way street".