Thursday, September 28, 2006
Which Doctor? Theatrical Impressions Of The People's Party At Play In Manchester
The Prime Minister, Mr Blair, has received many plaudits for his speech at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, and rightly so. Theatrically speaking, it was splendid. I have not seen such easy command of the public stage since Mr David Rintoul played Baron Hardup in Cinderella.
Generally, Mr Blair is a terrible ham, and he is at his best when he is asked to deliver news that is optimistic, sentimental, or sad. It took a degree of artistry to utter Mr Alastair Campbell's phrase, "the people's Princess" after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, without it sounding mawkish, but Mr Blair succeeded, not least because the phrase included an implied snub to the rest of the royal family, whose grief was perceived by the jackalopes of the popular press to be insufficiently public. It is not enough to feel pain these days - one must be seen to do so.
This, and the fact that he has clearly not slept for 500 years, is a problem for Mr Brown. He is, as he said in his conference speech, a private man. He is also a man whose oratory is perfect for funerals, which is a problem in a society which is permanently drunk on perverted hedonism.
All of which makes the sudden emergence as a leadership contender of Dr John Reid seem especially odd. Mr Brown is a little like a country doctor who is convinced he knows what is best, but would rather than get on with sorting the problem than try to explain it to an electorate which is too stupid to understand. The other doctor, Dr Reid, offers a well-dressed brand of thuggery - a size 9 shoe from Church's, stamping forever on the human face.