"The Prime Minister of Great Britain is a man too ill to be holding the Office." This was the conclusion last week of a senior civil servant liaising regularly with Gordon Brown. For reasons which will become clear, the person involved will not go public with the evidence for this conclusion. The same applies to a high-ranking Treasury official who told us "In both a physical and mental sense, the Prime Minister is a very sick man, seriously disabled."Whatever one's opinion of Brown, if what is said in this article is accurate then it is bad for the country and for the man who holds the office of PM to be in this position. It is equally bad news for the rest of us that the opposition would eather see a man destroyed in a very public fashion than risk taking on someone they may not beat so easily.
Certainly since Thatcher, who was the first PM I remember, it seems to me that the model has been for the PM to be in charge of every facet of Government. Well, it simply can't be done, there are not enough hours in the day for one person to do this job, and I believe it is beyond the physical and mental abilities of any human to do this.
So why try? I appreciate with Brown that he is simply not emotionally capable of letting anyone do their job without constant guidance and interference. No doubt in his mind when things do go wrong (and they will always go wrong, regardless of who is in Government) it is because the minister or Sec of State has failed to carry out the instructions as set out, so he has to do it himself.
The result? A high turnover of appointees to office, each more unsuited and incompetent than the one that came before. In a PM where the driving force is naked ambition, the best and brightest can never be given a position where they have proper control over their department, lest their star shine a little too bright and threaten the incumbent of Number 10.
This suggests to me that the person who holds the keys to Downing Street has that job because they believe that they are the only person who is capable and can be trusted to do the job, it must be them that does it. What no doubt started off as a desire to do the best for the country gets shunted onto a side track as they fall into a spiral of a belief in their own infallibility.
Surely for us, the best PM is one who has competent people manning departments they understand (and better still, have experience of) and holds a gentle hand on the tiller, almost acting as a referee, rather than Pele taking on the opposition single-handed in the style of Escape to Victory.
Unfortunately, such an individual does not exist, as anyone with the required temprament would look at the job description of PM and run a mile.
Anyhow, do and read the whole article. It's a cracker.