You've got to love Gordon Brown. Remember the last time he was ripped a new one by the electorate? He blamed the economy. And the time before that? He blamed the economy. It can't have been New Labour's fault for alienating their real supporters. They sailed on as if nothing had happened. It's part of a continuing thread of denial on behalf of New Labour. They just don't get it. They're not going to get it.
Just as before, Brown is keen to tell everyone he feels their pain.
Except he doesn't. He doesn't feel anyone's pain except his own.
You could forgive Brown for being a little confused. He's done everything the Daily Mail wanted: reduced taxes for the rich, increased taxes for the poor, decreased civil liberties, targeted Muslims, put more and more people in jail, increased sentences for violent crime and taken discretion away from those handing out sentences, put more people in jail for lesser offences, criminalised everyone under the age of 21 - and now he wants to humiliate the poorest and most vulnerable people in society by making the unemployed do community service; essentially, giving the same punishment to a poor person that you'd give to someone who'd beaten up an old granny.
That's a right-wing shopping list with everything ticked off. Yet Brown still isn't popular, on the right or the left. He must be wondering what's gone wrong.
And so he blames the economy - everything that's out of his control. While it's true that previous Labour (Old Labour, mind) Governments were at the mercy of the markets and suffered most unfortunately at the hands of economic events that were well beyond their control, this isn't history repeating itself. If Brown wants to conclude that he's just another Labour leader who's been beaten by the invisible hand, then he's seriously deluded. But this is what's happening.
Ahead of his address, Mr Brown said: "I think what people want to know is that we understand and we hear their concerns.
"People are worried every time they go to the petrol station for fuel and worry about the costs... These are concerns that are happening in every other country.
"My whole focus and whole task is to take people through difficult times..."
No! No, Brown! No! You really, really, really just don't get it. It's not that. It's not that at all. Maybe if petrol, heating, food and essentials were more expensive, but you weren't at the same time glibly raping the public sector up the arse because of the utterly fallacious argument that their pay, and nothing else, was behind inflation, people might understand. But you're trying to have both. You're trying to say the public sector should suffer, but at the same time, despite pitiful pay rises nowhere near the real cost of living increases, that inflation is somehow magically going up anyway. There is no wage-price spiral because current inflation is nothing to do with giving teachers, nurses or council workers a decent living. You have decided to punish them and make them suffer because you want to: there is no other justification in the slightest.
Brown tries to let himself off the hook by claiming that inflation is happening in every other country (and is it the fault of the public sector 'greed' in those countries too?) so therefore he can't do anything about it. But that's not the point. That's not why he is hated. That's not why he is despised. If people could actually see some kind of principles behind that Paddington Bear stare, they might understand, but they don't: they see nothing except a desire to please big business at the expense of ordinary people. Even the right understands that Labour governments are meant to look after the poor first: that's why they vote against them. Yet Brown continues to punish the poor while rewarding the rich, all the time pathetically claiming that he feels their pain. What utter rubbish.
Des Browne continues the pantomime and the denial:
Earlier, Scottish Secretary Des Browne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme people do not vote for divided parties and Labour must unite behind Mr Brown.
He said said the loss was "directly related to the cost of living" and said "we need to do more of the sorts of things that we've been doing".
What the fuck? You've been given an absolute ruddy pasting by the voters in Scotland, but your answer is to do *more* of the things they've voted against? More of the sorts of things you've been doing - which have seen you beaten, and beaten, and beaten again? Why will they suddenly start working now?
People are crying out for change, and I don't blame them. Yes, times are tough and the cost of living is rising. Wages of ordinrary people aren't matching it, thanks to Brown. The rich are getting tax breaks and keeping more of their money, thanks to Brown. And New Labour really thinks the best idea is to keep doing 'more of the sorts of things we have been doing?'
If Labour want any chance whatsoever of experiencing anything other than a Tory landslide in 18 months' time, it's time to listen. Really listen. Not listen in the sense of 'listen to the most reactionary voices on the right, then do exactly what they want', but really listen to what ordinary people - people who might want to vote Labour, but can't bring themselves to do so at the moment - want. At the moment, Labour is pursuing Tory policies and scratching its head as to why it's suffering, not realising that Tories will just say "thank you very much, Mr Cameron" and vote in their new leader. The delusion is maddening, infuriating, appalling: why the hell can't Labour see what's going on? They are making their biggest supporters hate them, while pandering to people who would never, ever vote for them.
For the love of all that's good in the world, Brown must go.