Exclusive: 'All shall Have Prizes' - Gordon Brown's Adventures in Wonderland (A Personal View)
by ADRIAN MORGAN
May 14, 2008
The Dodo on the Beach
However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out "The race is over!" and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, "But who has won?" This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead....At last the Dodo said, 'Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.'"
The above passage from Alice in Wonderland was published by Lewis Carroll in 1865. Two years later, Karl Marx published Das Kapital, a withering critique of capitalism. In 1848, Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto. When Carroll wrote "all shall have prizes," it is unknown if he specifically referred to Communist or Socialist movements which were developing in the mid-19th Century. Carroll himself may have flirted with "Christian Socialism," but he is generally viewed as a conservative and traditionalist. The enduring power of Alice in Wonderland and its sequel derives from its affectionate irreverence toward traditional institutions such as royalty and the judicial process.
Carroll's protagonist, Alice, encounters a menagerie of caricature figures that border on the grotesque. Her questions and comments are straightforward and direct. These comments cut through the pretensions of the powerful and expose them as harmless by demonstrating their absurdities.
The "Caucus Race" on the beach, where an extinct old bird encourages others to run around in circles can be seen as a satire on politics. The term "caucus" is essentially American, but Carroll appears to be lampooning British politics. The creatures running in a circle are not too dissimilar from the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass (1871) who states: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." The bird who presides over the Caucus Race is a Dodo, a creature with a long beak. Two other participants in the race have large beaks – the Eaglet and the Lory (a type of parrot). In Victorian times, the term "Beak" described both a judge and also a school principal. A cartoon from the magazine Punch's Almanack For 1882 from December 6, 1881, called "Up Before the Beak" depicts a courtroom scene with birds, where the "Beak," or judge ,is a Maribu stork.
I do not intend here to write a textual analysis of Lewis Carroll's whimsies, but I am presupposing that most readers have familiarity with Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, if only through the 1951 Disney movie. The absurdities of Britain's Labour Party and its failed experiments in Socialist social engineering can be easily compared to the absurdities of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The Labour Party is traditionally Socialist, despite Tony Blair's attempts to rebrand it as "New Labour." On May 1st this year, local elections were held through much of Britain. May 1st – May Day – is traditionally a day celebrated by Socialists as "International Workers' Day." There was nothing for the Socialists in Labour to celebrate this May Day. Labour suffered its worst trouncing in the polls in 40 years.
The most visible manifestation of the British public rejecting Labour and its policies happened in London. Ken Livingstone, the nasally whining ultra-Leftist Mayor of London, was kicked out, to be replaced by Tory Boris Johnson. Livingstone has played games with the electorate of London for eight years – inviting Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London, even though Qaradawi supports the bombing of Israeli civilians. Livingstone even claimed in 2005 that Qaradawi was similar to Pope John XXIII, stating that Qaradawi was "the most powerfully progressive force for change and for engaging Islam with western values." Widely suspected of being fonder of alcohol than is usually healthy, Livingstone supported the plans for a massive "mega-mosque" in Newham, close to the site of the 2012 London Olympics. This mosque is to be built by the extremist group Tablighi Jamaat, but Livingstone dismissed all complaints about the mosque as attempts to "stir up hatred between Muslims and non-Muslims." He ignored the fact that many local Muslims object to the Deobandi extremists behind the mega-mosque project.
Livingstone's snide and devious politicking obviously alienated voters, but his ejection pointed to a deeper problem with Labour. When a party that has been in power nationally for 11 years fares so badly in local elections, attention turns to the leader. In Labour's case, this leader is Gordon Brown. When he was Rector of Edinburgh University in 1975, Gordon Brown wrote about how Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), founder of the Italian Communist Party, should be a model for Scottish politics.
Gordon Brown was not elected by his party to the position of leader. On June 27, 2007, six weeks after Tony Blair officially resigned, Gordon Brown became unelected prime minister. After almost a whole year of being in power, it seems that Gordon Brown is already fast on his way to political extinction. The only genuinely original policy that Gordon Brown has proposed since stumbling into power is his proposition to construct so-called "eco-towns." These towns are designed to have a low "carbon footprint." Far from being environmentally friendly, these conurbations will blight pristine rural locations, and have already been met with opposition. Britain has a housing shortage, but mainly because over the past decade Labour has allowed uncontrolled immigration.
With former "allies" from the Labour Party now coming forward to give their criticisms of Gordon Brown, in one respect, the prime minister is very close to the Dodo. Like Carroll's Dodo he likes to be in charge, though he has hardly a clue of how to run the show. When the Portugese first encountered the Dodo on Mauritius, they named it "doudou" meaning "silly." Brown may have a brain when it comes to calculating figures, but when it comes to judging public needs and wishes, he is a fool. Brown has waited in the wings for 10 years, counting the days until he gained power. Now that he has been in power for almost a year, Brown cannot come up with a single popular policy. During Blair's leadership, Brown was a grumpy accountant, acting as Chancellor but arguing constantly about when he would become leader himself. Blair had the vision to make Labour appealing to the middle classes and the wealthy. All Gordon Brown can do is hark back to his Socialist roots. And the public is fed up with Socialism. Where Blair could use his imagination, Gordon is stuck in a time warp, unable to offer anything other than more taxes to fund his Socialist agenda.
As a politician who is no longer relevant to the voting public, and who is encountering opposition from senior figures within his own party, Gordon Brown has a lot in common with the Dodo – he is well on his way to extinction. Real Deals and Dodgy Contracts
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick. After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!"
Why did Brown ever expect to become head of the Labour Party? To answer that, one must look back to May 1994, and to a meal that Brown allegedly shared with Tony Blair in a restaurant in Islington, North London. The restaurant – no longer in business – was Granita. Whether oysters were on the menu is unknown. Over this meal, the two politicians made a deal – the so-called "Granita Pact." The Labour Party had just lost its leader, Scottish politician John Smith, who died of a heart attack. The party would face a leadership contest. The "Granita Pact" meant that Blair would not be challenged by Brown if he took control of the party. The only caveat would be that he would eventually step down and make way for Brown to fill his shoes. In Through the Looking Glass, the pugilistic twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, recite to Alice the poem "The Walrus And The Carpenter.” The eponymous gourmets fix on a plan to take some oysters for a walk, and both end up devouring the creatures, leaving only their shells. In the 1951 Disney movie Alice in Wonderland, a twist is introduced, wherein the Walrus eats all the oysters while the carpenter gets none – at the close of the scene the Carpenter chases his former supper companion with murderous intent.
The deal to create a monarchical succession of leadership from Blair to Brown is, of itself, quite scandalous. The leadership of a party should come about through an open election, not via some Machiavellian or Faustian pact negotiated in secret. And herein lies the fundamental flaw in such an arrangement. A deal may have seemed valid back in 1994, but times change. Brown may have seemed a viable candidate back in 1994, when being Scottish could have earned him a sympathy vote after John Smith's death. When Brown was handed the post of leader on a plate, it appears that Labour Party members also acted out of sympathy, acutely aware of Brown's frustration at waiting for Tony Blair to resign.
In early 2006 news broke of an alleged scandal. Called "cash-for-honors," it was believed that before the 2005 election, Labour had offered places in the House of Lords, parliament's Upper House, to those who loaned large sums of cash to the Labour Party. The police were involved, and even though a 16-month investigation exonerated Labour politicians, the reek of grubby dealings tainted the party. How much Gordon Brown may have been aware of such measures is discussed below. Labour won the general (national) election in 2005 on the promise of holding a referendum if any European manifesto were to be introduced. Yet Brown signed the European Treaty on December 13, 2007, before even parliament had been given a chance to discuss it. No referendum was offered to the electorate.
Gordon Brown pretends to be a man for the people – and trots out his history as son of a humble Scottish preacher until the tale becomes as nauseatingly mawkish as an oft-repeated Lassie movie. Despite his pretensions of being a homespun "son of the manse," Brown showed total contempt for the electorate by pushing for the signing of the European Reform Treaty.
Brown also showed contempt for the poorest members of society by his recent proposal of the scrapping of the 10 penny threshold for taxation. This meant that the lowest paid workers would become poorer through government taxation – hardly a wise measure for someone who still thinks Socialism is acceptable. On the wisdom of proposing such an unpopular measure immediately before nationwide local elections, see the comments above concerning the Portugese and Dodos.
Nothing but a pack of cards! "At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!' and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.'..... `It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King. `Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice."
Last year, it was revealed that since its election in May 1997, the Labour government had introduced no fewer than 3,000 new laws, one for each day of Tony Blair's leadership. Gordon Brown was a leading member of the government so cannot deny responsibility for this situation. He now continues the trend of introducing reams of pointless legislation. Despite the over-abundance of laws - many of which are petty, mean or undemocratic – the government has failed to provide adequate legislation to combat terrorism.
Individuals such as Jordanian Islamist Abu Qatada, who has been described as "Osama bin Laden's spiritual ambassador in Europe," cannot be deported from Britain. The long-running farce surrounding Qatada is due to the Labour government introducing the Human Rights At of 1998. This Act stipulates that no existing British laws can contravene the 1950 European Convention of Human Rights. Because any trial in Jordan may possibly involve evidence gained by torture (though this is not certain) then Abu Qatada must be set free, a judge has recently ordered. Qatada will be placed under a curfew, but he should not be in Britain at all. He entered the country illegally on a forged passport.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) was introduced in 2000 to deal with terrorism and serious crime. Now this law is being used by city officials on councils to snoop on citizens. Worse, the act allows people's personal data to be shared with a staggering 792 different agencies. Another aspect of the government's new legislation gives jumped-up local council officials the powers to run around like little Nazis snooping on people (using the terms of RIPA) and then fining them if they commit petty offenses such as dropping litter. The concept of Fixed Penalty Notices is consequently abused.
As a result, a young mother was recently fined £75 ($146) for littering. Sarah Davies was feeding a sausage roll to her daughter when a small piece of sausage and pastry fell on the sidewalk. A council official jumped forward and issued a fine. The fact that a pigeon had flown down and carried away the offending "litter" was irrelevant to the power-crazed bureaucrats from Hull City Council.
In a similar vein, Copeland Council in Cumbria abuses the legal powers granted to it by the Labour government. Refuse bins used to be collected once a week, but many councils now only collect once a fortnight. When Gareth Corkhill's bin was so full its lid was four inches ajar, he was taken to court and fined £210 ($408). What is so disgusting about these infractions of petty regulations is that the courts uphold them, even though the judiciary is unable to boot a supporter of terrorism such as Abu Qatada out of the country. Labour's disastrous Human Rights Act means that not only foreign terrorists get special treatment. Britain's home-grown prisoners who are drug addicts get special molly-coddling. In November 2006 it was revealed that heroin-addicted convicts who were forced to go without their opiate drugs when they were imprisoned were to be compensated to the tune of thousands of pounds. This month, the Sentencing Guidelines Council recommends that if a person steals to fund a drug or gambling habit – then that individual could escape a jail sentence. And his answer trickled through my head, Like water through a sieve
The quote above is from Haddocks' Eyes a poem in Through the Looking Glass. It seems appropriate to just about anything that Gordon Brown has said publicly since he fumbled to grasp the reins of power. One of Brown's most meaningless statements is his recent assertion that elderly people will not have to give up their homes to fund their care needs. In Scotland, which now has its own parliament thanks to Labour, care needs of the elderly are paid for out of the national budget. In the rest of Britain, the elderly must spend most of their savings and assets before they qualify for free care. Brown's solution to the problem is to introduce a compulsory tax that everyone must pay into.
This new method of taxing seems to have come from the notebook of Gordon's former guru, Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. There is no announcement of when such a tax will be introduced. The way things are going, Gordon Brown will be unemployed before such a scheme could feasibly be drafted and passed through both Houses of Parliament. For ten years I have looked after my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) at home. This saves her having to sell the family house to fund her care. My mother paid National Insurance contributions since 1948, when the National Health Service was founded. Despite this, she still has to pay for every aspect of her care. I hear Gordon Brown's comments on subsidizing care for the elderly and feel sickened at their insincerity.
It appears Labour expects the British public to be like Lewis Carroll's White Queen, who forced herself to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
According to Alice in Wonderland: "it's always pepper that makes people hot-tempered....and vinegar that makes them sour – and chamomile that makes them bitter." When he was Chancellor, only one thing made Gordon Brown hot-tempered, sour and bitter, and that was Tony Blair. Now Brown is prime minister, he cannot blame Blair for his failure to cope with leadership. Brown lacks Blair's communication skills. Blair could fake sincerity well, and his smiles appeared natural. Gordon Brown's smiles seem less natural than those of the Cheshire Cat.
The notion of Brown being ousted from his post as leader of the party before the next election is now being discussed in public and loudly. Frank Field, former welfare minister, has spoken of "tantrums of an indescribable nature" coming from Brown when he was Chancellor and Tony Blair was prime minister. Field added "The awful fact that is coming across is that he seems so unhappy in himself. I think everybody in the country who has ever watched a news clip of the prime minister realises that. I think that's a mega problem for him and for the government."
Two new books are coming out which add to the chorus of political voices condemning Brown. Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has just published serialized extracts of his autobiography. In this, he describes Brown as "frustrating, annoying, bewildering and prickly," a person who could "could go off like a bloody volcano." Additionally, Prescott states that Brown often asked Tony Blair exactly when he would be standing down. Even Anne Baxter's ambitious character in All About Eve had more tact and class than that.
Prescott found himself caught between Gordon Brown (who would tend to sulk because the prime minister remained in power), and Tony Blair (who would tend to moan about his Chancellor). Prescott suggested to Blair that he should sack Brown. This never happened as "Tony knew that sacking Gordon would tear the party apart." At the same time that Prescott's memoirs are published in The Times, then Tony's wife also publishes her memoirs in the same newspaper. The editors of the Times are kind enough to let us know what Cherie Blair thought of Gordon Brown. Cherie states that the terms of the deal that is now known as the Granita pact were negotiated weeks before the actual meal took place. She claims: "The Granita meeting was basically for them to talk about the announcement." Cherie reveals that, like a latter-day Lady Macbeth, she urged her husband: "Listen, Tony. This is your moment. You've got to take it. Who dares wins."
Former Labour fundraiser Lord Levy also has a book of memoirs to be published. On Sunday, he was asked about the police inquiry into alleged corruption in the "cash-for-honors" scandal. Lord Levy said: "I would find it very strange that the person who is leading the election campaign for Labour, that is Gordon, who has to fight the election, who has to fund the election, (to) know where the monies are coming from because the party is spending considerable sums of money – surely you're going to ask: ‘Well how is this being funded? Are we bringing in the money on donations?’ " Brown has tried to distance himself from the criticisms, but there seems to be nothing he can do. The public have already cast their vote on his performance in the local elections.
Labour has been in power for a decade, and it is rare in modern British politics for a party to last so long. Margaret Thatcher was in power from 1979 to 1990, and under John Major her party continued in power until 1997. Blair had his decade of power from 1997 to 2007. But Gordon Brown has no charisma. He is not a good communicator. He tends to preach at people rather than make them feel personally engaged. In two years' time, Britain must have a general election. If Gordon Brown leads the party at that time, Labour will have no hope of winning. Judging by Labour's appalling performance, that can only be a good thing. When Brown became prime minister last June, opinion polls showed that he initially had strong public support. This public confidence was called the "Brown Bounce," but this lost its elasticity some time last fall.
Labour has bullied the electorate with its numerous new laws, and it has forced through its policies of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has failed to inspire people, and has been shown to be more socially divisive than cohesive. Cultural relativism means that in schools, British values are regarded as "no better" than those of any other culture. When Labour came to power in May 1997, it introduced a "Scottish parliament." Splitting the country in this manner has only fostered resentments between Scotland and England. There have been demands for an "English parliament," with 61% of English people supporting such a move.
After the recent local election fiasco, the leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish parliament, Wendy Alexander, apparently called for a referendum on Scottish independence. Brown has said he will fight to keep Britain united. Yet it was his party that started the break-up of national unity by granting to Scots and Welsh people their own parliaments, but not offering the same for those who live in England. The local elections showed how unpopular Labour and its policies have become. Gordon Brown lacks the personal magnetism to inspire confidence. If he has already lost the support of the people, then nothing will bring back the "Brown Bounce." An awkward, pessimistic individual with no visible warmth or passion will not win hearts and minds. The Tories have been in the shadows for a decade, and finally they appear to be gaining popularity.
I have shamelessly mixed my metaphors in this assessment of Gordon Brown's Labour Party, and thus I have probably exhausted all useful analogies from Wonderland or Looking Glass World. As he is so thoroughly out of touch with public sentiments, Brown bears a passing similarity to the delusional Mad Hatter presiding over another national "unbirthday." Could Brown conceivably be compared to the demonic Jabberwock?: And as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!
Brown is the head of a governing party that is in a crisis. Musing on the subject of Wonderland and Looking Glass Land, maybe there is only one cure for the malaise that currently affects Britain's body politic:
The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without looking round....." (The author would like to reassure readers that he in no way supports decapitation, even for Labour Party leaders.)