Belfast Telegraph

Brown gets right dunking over his cookie coyness

By Robert McNeil

It is, I think, correct and fair to refer to Gordon Brown as a balloon, a numptie, a phoney, a nutter, a clot, a clown, a poltroon, an incompetent, a blusterer, a blowhard, a hypocrite, a mountebank, a cad, an oddball, a misfit, a bungler, botcher, blunderer, bumbler, duffer, galoot, fool, failure, nincompoop, wally, a five-star featherbrained drivelling dullard and, arguably, a jobbernowl.

No reasonable person, probably not even the Prime Minister himself, could take issue with these ascriptions. However, now they’re calling him an “unfaithful tart” and a “slapper”. This is outrageous.

The “they” under advisement are the followers of Mumsnet, a website that started off all sweetness and light about mothering but which, in the way of these things, has mutated into a seething cesspit of abuse, faction-fighting, anonymous grandstanding and ill-willed belittling. O tempora, o mores!

The Brown One fell foul of these maternal mutants when, in a crucial interview with them, he declined to name his favourite biscuit. Jammy Dodger springs to mind. But Brown didn't get where he is today by naming his favourite biscuit. His mind may be a foggy swamp but, within it, there's a little island where lives his Gollum-like inner self, forever scheming and calculating.

Obviously, he was thinking that, if he named one biscuit as his favourite, all the other biccie-manufacturers would despise him. They might even lobby against him. He could have found himself the first Prime Minister in history brought down by an alliance of Jaffa Cakes and Garibaldis.

Anyway, he thought he'd dodged a bullet on that one, but they gave him a hard time about it, and it seemed he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t — the usual lot of a Prime Minister. Now, the Mumsnetters are on his case again, calling him a tarty slapper and whatnot, because he’s given an interview to the rival Netmums site. Yes, even the world of mothers is riven by schism and bitterness.

In broad brush strokes, Mumsnet is said to be middle-class and a bit la-de-da, while Netmums is considered proletarian and a bit fish-and-chips. Whatever the case, Mr B’s “defection” to Netmums provoked outrage among the matriarchal bourgeoisie on Mumsnet. Weegiemum called him an “unfaithful tart”, while MadameDefarge said he was a “slapper”. EllieMental wrote: “They are welcome to our sloppy seconds.”

Sloppy seconds, indeed! Is that any way to speak about a Prime Minister? Oh, it is? I see. I hope Mr Brown, whose mental state sounds fragile enough already, doesn’t look at these “comments”. However, I cannot think they’re the worst I’ve ever read on the internet. Despite a small media hoo-ha, these messages quite possibly display a humour rarely present among forum rowdies, who normally are too outraged by everything generally to essay anything gladsome or light.

But one does feel sorry for Brown. His clumsy attempts to court popularity are so inept and insincere that they almost warm him to you. Indeed, recent polling evidence suggests that citizens in Englandshire are starting to take his side, preferring an honest duffer to a smarmy prat from a posh school.

It isn’t how the founders of democracy thought things would work. Greek philosopher Bernard Aristotle thought democracy would lead to perpetual rule of the poor, because they were always the majority.

However, he reckoned without the press persuading them to vote for the rich. Neither did he take into account other factors, such as whether a candidate has a big nose or indeed deserves our sympathy.

Then you also have to consider whether a candidate is a booby, thicko, dimwit, mooncalf, birdbrain, crackpot, slapper or tart.

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