Gordon Brown’s cry of impotence - Macleans.ca

Gordon Brown’s cry of impotence

MARK STEYN: If he rages naked at his aides it’s because he can do nothing about anything that matters


Gordon Brown’s cry of impotence

In the old days, I used to wake up to the morning paper, neatly folded on a silver salver and presented by my valet along with the kedgeree and the brace of grilled quail. Now I wake up to an inbox of Internet stories forwarded by readers that cumulatively feel like the front page from some bizarro kingdom cooked up for an unpersuasive dystopian satire. For example, a headline from the Washington Examiner:

“Transsexual Cabaret Performer Vomits on Susan Sarandon.”

An accident? Or the pilot for a hot new reality format? In other news, the London Evening Standard reports:

“Number 10 Denies Naked Gordon Brown Called Aide C-word.”

The second round of the hot new reality show? No, the prime ministerial nude had been trying to fix up some one-on-one face time with Barack Obama only to be rebuffed and having to settle for a hurried few minutes with the President in the aisle of the UN kitchen as they exited the big world leaders’ banquet in New York. Hence, his naked fury. You don’t have to be a G7 head of government to appreciate that that’s not the most helpful headline at this stage in the electoral cycle. But, as is the way, the story quickly moved on:

“Gordon Brown’s Staff Called Bullying Helpline.”

Indeed. According to the BBC, members of the British prime minister’s staff had called the National Bullying Helpline for advice and counselling. After all, as the Financial Times reported:

“Bullying: Seven Per Cent of Cabinet Office Staff Are Victims.”

No doubt. As I said, for a satirical novel it’s all a bit too obvious: the internal contradictions of the Big Government nanny state finally implode when the paranoid leader’s underlings start clogging up the 24-hour bullying helpline. Too pat, too neat. Perhaps it would work as a musical, with Bye Bye Birdie’s Telephone Hour number retooled for teary stenographers, distraught Lord Privy Seals and other minions of the ruthless Gordon: Bye Bye Brownie. “I have never hit anybody,” responded the prime minister, after allegations that he forced a secretary from her chair for typing too slowly. From the Times of London:

“Yes, Prime Minister: the Culture of Fear at Number 10.”

Another Downing Street staffer claimed to be “scared” of Mr. Brown. Big deal. Except that he’s a member of the personal protection security detail. So the guy who’s meant to take a bullet for you is reduced to a quivering jellyfish because your lingo gets a bit salty? What if there was a security incident such as took place at the Vancouver opening ceremony? From the New York Post:

“Mentally Ill Man Breaches Olympics Security to Get Near Biden.”

Wow. That’s almost as alarming as “Mentally Ill Man Breaches Olympics Security to Get Near Opening Ceremony.” He was stopped just a few feet away from Joe Biden. As the RCMP’s assistant commissioner Bud Mercer explained, “He had an infatuation with the U.S. vice-president.” CTV reports that the man has now been “committed to a psychiatric facility for treatment.” Evidently, an infatuation with Joe Biden is the one illness for which there’s no wait time in British Columbia.

But what of all those layers of crack security he breached with his homemade ID? It consisted of three words—ALL ACCESS PASS—in big letters; looks like it was downloaded from a Jonas Brothers tour memorabilia site. Shouldn’t we show that this kind of incompetence won’t be tolerated and fire the useless ninnies who let him through? Don’t even think about it. From the Australian:

“Bosses Rapped for Valid Sacking.”

Come again? Well, as the paper reported, “The nation’s industrial umpire has ruled that a long-term employee who was legitimately sacked for repeated safety breaches must be reinstated and paid compensation because of his poor education and poor job prospects.”

Okay, let me see if I follow that: his poor education means that it was unreasonable ever to expect him to do the job. Therefore, his inability to do the job is why he must remain in it in perpetuity. Gotcha.

Interestingly, what he was in breach of was a failure to observe Health & Safety regulations. Like the rest of the developed world, Australians labour under ever more intrusive ’Elf ’n’ Safety rules. One has always assumed the fellows who impose this stuff on the rest of us believe in it themselves: at the headquarters of Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, for example, staff are forbidden to move chairs due to the risk of injuring themselves. Instead, if you’re minded to move the chair by the pot plant over to the umbrella stand you have to book a porter 48 hours in advance and he will reposition the chair in compliance with safety procedures. But at Australia’s Norske Skog Paper Mills, Paul Quinlivan can ignore Health & Safety with impunity because his lack of prospects would make it impossible ever to get a job where he’d be expected to be able to follow them.

Perhaps he could sell hot dogs to minors. From the Toronto Star’s “Parent Central,” Lesley Ciarula Taylor keeps us on the non-cutting edge of Health & Safety developments:

“Redesign the Hot Dog, Doctors Urge…”

No, that’s it. I’m done. I’m outta here. That’s gotta be some fake-o spam headline generator that infected my laptop when I got hooked on the vomiting transsexual porn. But no, it’s real:

“Hot dogs need to be redesigned so they aren’t potentially lethal to small children,” reports Ms. Taylor. Yet Janet Riley, president of the U.S. National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, prefers to keep hot dogs sausage-shaped. Needless to say, she “agrees with the need for education, and points out more than half the hot dogs sold in the United States have warnings to parents to cut them into small pieces.” But presumably not at concession stands in Vancouver, where Joe Biden groupies could easily buy them and force-feed them to distracted under-14s standing around agog at the non-functioning electric zamboni.

Speaking of “the need for education,” London’s Daily Mail reports:

“Girls as young as 11 are to be offered pregnancy tests at school.

“They will also have access to contraception, the morning-after pill and advice on sexually transmitted infections.”

Lovely. And, if that works out, we can start educating the nine-year-olds. I’m surprised there’s anything still left to teach British schoolkids in this area. As the Guardian reported a few years back, “Oral Sex Lessons to Cut Rates of Teenage Pregnancy.” This was part of a policy to wean the li’l moppets from intercourse to the joys of “outercourse.” Alas, teen pregnancy rates went up last year. Not sure how the 11-year-old pregnancy rates are looking, but I’m sure the eight-year-olds are holding steady. Still, whatever its deficiencies in reducing pregnancy, you’d have thought that an education system that teaches schoolgirls how to perform oral sex wouldn’t also have to schedule time to teach them how to consume a hot dog safely. Multi-tasking, people!

Poor, unlovely Gordon Brown desperately pursuing Barack Obama past the chopped zucchini and simmering coulis of that UN kitchen in the forlorn hope of landing one brief photo op of the two geopolitical colossi mano-a-mano. He’s as pitiful as that mentally ill guy in Vancouver besotted with Joe Biden. More so, in fact. At least that fellow did it on his own dime, downloading his ALL ACCESS PASS from the Internet, rather than requiring legions of aides and thousands of pounds to achieve pretty much the same result. The United Kingdom has huge systemic problems: its public spending is at a peacetime high and mostly wasted. Its social capital is all but exhausted: what LBJ’s Great Society did to the black family in America, Britain’s postwar welfare state has done to the general population. If Gordon Brown rages naked at his aides, it’s a cry of impotence: like many leaders of exhausted, unsustainable, micro-regulated entitlement states, he can do nothing about anything that matters.

Of all the itsy-bitsy stories in my inbox this week, the one that summed it up featured Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York. He’s promising that the big hole at Ground Zero isn’t going to be there for another decade. “I’m not going to leave this world with that hole in the ground 10 years from now,” he says. In the 21st century, that’s what passes for action, for get-tough leadership, for riding herd. Sure, those jihad boys got lucky and took out a couple skyscrapers, but the old can’t-do spirit kicked in and a mere nine years later we’ve got a seven-storey hole on which seven billion dollars have been lavished. But, if we can’t put up a replacement building within a decade, we can definitely do it within two. Probably. The non-official estimated date of completion for the new 1 World Trade Center right now is said to be 2018. Don’t hold your breath. We’ve got a hot dog to redesign.

It doesn’t matter now what the eventual replacement building is at Ground Zero. The hole is the memorial: a gaping, multi-storey, multi-billion-dollar hole, profound and eloquent in its nullity.


Gordon Brown’s cry of impotence

  1. “Transsexual Cabaret Performer Vomits on Susan Sarandon."

    What a great headline to capture the state of our popular culture.

  2. We've long past the "reductio ad absurdum" stage. Nothing short of mass defenistrations of 'Elf & Safety officials world-wide will stop this insanity.

  3. "Okay, let me see if I follow that: his poor education means that it was unreasonable ever to expect him to do the job. Therefore, his inability to do the job is why he must remain in it in perpetuity. Gotcha."

    Clearly we are living in Absurdistan or, at the very least, a Joseph Heller novel. Mark, as usual, points out the incredible absurdities of the micromanaged, simpering, multi-culti, PC state which is now what we call "modern life". Yet it troubles me that while so many of us are amazed by this kind of thing, it continues to go on unabated.

  4. Steyn's last paragraph beautifully sums up the effectiveness and productivity of the left.

  5. And yet repeated visits to London show a city vastly improved by 13 years of Labour policies.
    The transformation of councils, housing and neighbourhoods, public spaces and infrastructure are quite visible.
    Clearly some ideas from the left turned out, well, right.
    Even my Conservative friends admit trepidation about installing Cameron, who has not many ideas and has largely agreed with Labour on big issues, simply because people want a change.

    • Clearly some ideas from the left turned out, well, right.

      You mean Third Way ideas turned out well, don't you? :)

      • Fair comment. But that is sort of the flip side of cameron not being very different than Brown on many issues.

        • Also, fair comment. Politics the world* over is all about squishing the centre. Only the rhetoric sounds the same.

          * I use that word liberally, of course. Well, not Liberally, well, more in the classical liberal sense, that is to say literal, or, rather…


    • The improvements are probably due to the Labour government having spent billions while the credit was easy, leaving us with a colossal deficit now the credit has dried up.

      • Most of that deficit is the result of 3 years of banking bailouts, not social spending.

    • Really? Twenty years ago, London was the safest big city in the world. Today it's worse (considerably so) than New York City. Not exactly what I'd call "progress."

      • Been to Manhattan lately? NYC has exported its problems (and middle and working class, for that matter) to outer burroughs and New Jersey. I'd say the change has more to do with what's happened to NYC than London. But to each his own.

        • The outer boroughs are part of the city of New York; you're saying that NYC has exported its problems to itself.

      • Been to Manhattan lately? NYC has exported its problems (and middle and working class, for that matter) to outer burroughs and New Jersey. I'd say the change has more to do with what's happened to NYC than London. But to each his own.

    • ….er I live in london, a really nice part that has always been nice…..the rest of it? not much improvement if any
      Sorry to dissappoint you

      • FInsbury Park, Shoreditch, Hackney, Camberwell, South Brixton… these neighbourhoods are a lot better today than they we 12 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, etc.

        I'm there once or twice a year, with friends in all of these neighbourhoods… they are better. But I'm happy to agree to disagree.

        • What exactly is better?Are you delusional,everything is ruined over there.Ask all these English people,in their ever growing numbers in Canada why they left the UK.Must be nice to just shoot your mouth off without thinking,perfect analysis form someone who just 'visits',if you have ever been there to begin with.I don`t know or recognize this transformation you are talking about.Finsbury Park,now that`s something to get someone rolling off the floor,you`ve never been there have you?You have no idea what you`re talking about.

    • Did you know you were in England?

    • London is now a total sh**hole. I lived there for 20 years, watched it slowly turn more and more dirty and violent, and am glad I got out. I don't recognise the 'transformation' you're talking about.

    • Apparently, Los Angeles of all places is vastly improved, too, according to Timothy Egan of the NYT. And for the same reasons Amateur Hours identifies…liberal politicians and liberal courts. Of course, Egan measures LA's improvement with this observation, You are now more likely to be murdered in Columbus, Ohio or Tulsa, Oklahoma than the City of Angels.

      High praise, indeed.

    • You're having a laugh. Blair and Brown have ruined this country, literally and financially.

  6. "That's gotta be some fake-o spam headline generator that infected my laptop when I got hooked on the vomiting transsexual porn.

    Funniest Steyn piece I've ever seen. Talk about skewering the leftist elite, or effete, or whatever they are.

  7. Steyn's observation on the BC Health System is exactly right.There can be no wait time to institutionalize anyone crazy enough to be infatuated with Joe Biden and the triage team there certainly made the right call

  8. Meanwhile, in Ontario – the reigning capital of make-believe jobs – you could find employment as a BHA…that’s a ‘Butternut Health Assessor’ to all the uninitiated. You only need to know (a) what a butternut tree looks like, and, (b) whether its alive or dead. If the tree is dead, your job is to sign a paper which will allow the landowner to cut the dead tree down.

    Do you think that dummy in Australia might want to relocate to Ontario? He’ll be in good company.

    • Does the job specify a university degree as a requirement? Is there a professional licensing body?

  9. "The (9/11) hole is the memorial".

    Truer words were never spoken. The black hole at Ground Zero is the Islamist enemy's permanent footprint in America, reinforced by the homegrown dhimmi Left with their typical "can't do" attitude.

  10. I'm not sure whether to put a paper bag over my head or tear up my ballot. As usual, bang-on.

  11. "FInsbury Park, Shoreditch, Hackney, Camberwell, South Brixton… these neighbourhoods are a lot better today"

    As one poster mentioned, a lot of these so-called improvements had more to do with soaring real estate prices all over London, and the subsequent gentrification of formerly marginal, or blighted areas than it did with Labour policies.

  12. 'Outercourse'…of course: Gender non-specific fun for all preferences.

    And what about mincing the sausage and putting it between two round buns. We could call it? Let me think…

  13. The only headline you should remember was: "Nudist Teacher's Model Girl Wife Runs Off With Chinese Hypnotist From Co-op Bacon Factory"

  14. It doesn't matter now what the eventual replacement building is at Ground Zero. The hole is the memorial: a gaping, multi-storey, multi-billion-dollar hole, profound and eloquent in its nullity.

    I thought for a second you where talking about Obamacare Mr. Styen. It sure works for him, with his fellow revolutionaries praising his cool-aide poison now thoroughly incubated in America.

    The mad now rule us from their own fonts of hallucination. Politicians don't even hide the contempt anymore for the Citizenry as they look down on them. They are soaked in appeasement with monsters, while crying having taken all the dignity from the people who pay them. They act more like sadistic tortures who have run out of victims.
    I just mention this that you know far better than I do. Because if history is any guide, when political insanity reaches this height. It usually means . Out with the Imperialist phase. Welcome to the dominant end?

    I heard a guy today saying the West has Stockholm syndrome. We love our tormentors enough to put up with what we would ban for ourselves.

    Its getting to the eleventh hour folks.

  15. We've gone through the looking glass, for sure. Brilliant, as usual, Mr. Steyn.

  16. Great article. Does Scott Feschuck know your after his job?

  17. I lived in London under Thatcher and under Blair-Brown, and I can tell you the latter were at least a hundred times better for the city.

    I happened to be in hospital under the Conservatives and it was a miserable, grimy experience of filth and poor care. I again had to spend time in hospital under Brown and it was almost a holiday. Clean wards, superb doctors, good food.

  18. I lived in London under Thatcher and under Blair-Brown. Under the latter London was at least ten times better.

    I had to go into hospital in the Thatcher years and found it a nightmare of filth and poor doctors. Under Brown I recently again had a spell in hospital, and found clean wards, superb doctors and nurses and -unbelievably – decent food. And not a penny to pay.

    So, Brown for me, please.

    • Are you sure you never paid a penny for your IHNS treatment? Or did you, like many others in the UK, leave that tab for others to pick up?


        I paid my taxes, which is more than many rich people do. During the years when I was not ill, this helped pay the treatment for many others. This kind of health insurance works well, at least in Britain.

        People like me who have actually experienced how grim life was under Thatcher, and have also witnessed the drastic improvements under the suceeding Labour governments, need to speak up. This is to make sure simplifiying political propaganda like Mark Steyn's does not make all the running.

        Brown helpless? Far from it. He has done a lot to improve the lives of ordinary folks in his career.

        By contrast what has Steyn done except earn a living as a propagandist?

    • Thatcher was fixing up an Britain run into the ground by unions and socialists (of both parties). The filth and poor doctors were, like the ruined economy, inherited by Thatcher, who brought England back from the brink. Since then both Laour and the Conservatives have resumed their respective roles of running the country into the ground.

  19. How can London be 'better' when we have become one of the most spied-upon people in the world? Even Oyster cards track every journey. As for hospitals, there was no MRSA before labour came in – various members of my family had very good experiences in hospitals in the 80s and 90s.

  20. In quoting Mark Steyn"…Therefore, his inability to do the job is why he must remain in it in perpetuity. Gotcha. I think 'rightofleft 2010' made a good interpretation of that situation. Only change I would have made was right after "Gotcha", I would have said "They have this bloke and we have our Senate." Oh, well, Senate reform appears to be as abstract a debate as it is a generic election promise. Gofigure.

  21. Love the choice of photograph to go with the headline. Looks very frustrated! So tongue in cheek.

  22. I wish I had a bright shiny quarter for every time Ive given someone a harsh dressing down and regreted it after, give the guy a break.

  23. Great article Mark. You did it again.