Going lower than ever thought possible.
Witness then Guido bringing the question completely out into the open, behind the witless low-level building up of the idea which has been going on for several months now. Gordon Brown, fairly and simply, is quite possibly bonkers. The evidence presented for this is weak beyond belief. It amounts to around three things: that Brown was labelled "psychologically flawed" long ago by Blair's briefers during one of the internecine battles between TB and GB; that Brown has been acting strangely, apropos an article by that man noted for his own completely rational and inoffensive behaviour, Bruce Anderson; and lastly, that even by the standards of a politician he's been making increasingly bizarre statements. To this you could add the pathetic diagnoses by the green ink brigade of autism, or Asperger's syndrome.
You don't have to have even the slightest medical training to treat such facile, shallow nonsense with the contempt it deserves. It ought to be remembered however though that this isn't just the imaginings of the usual suspect squad of bloggers getting ever more drunk on their own delusions of grandeur: George Osborne joked when asked by Mary Ann Sieghart whether his own knowledge of dinosaurs when a child was "faintly autistic" by saying "we're not getting into Gordon Brown yet"; and for a while it almost seemed to be Conservative policy to treat Gordon Brown as weird, hence Cameron's description of him as "that strange man in Downing Street".
To give these claims the sort of scrutiny which they don't deserve, we're for a start dealing with highly conflicting descriptions of what Brown genuinely is like. While some may class him as a Stalinist or a control freak, others have talked of his mildness, even warmth in private, and have been disillusioned by his failure to show this in public. Even if we take at face value the stories of Brown's rages, almost all delivered, incidentally, by either Blairites or those predisposed against Brown, of the smashing of mobile phones and otherwise, they don't even begin to be explained by mental illness or autism: rather, this is a person under intense pressure and stress, reacting at times in ways which he doubtless instantly regrets. It might be someone not enjoying the job which they so coveted, but it is not even slightly abnormal, let alone descending into mental ill-health.
More than anything, this perhaps comes down to what you regard as the qualities that a politician should always have on display. We seem increasingly to want our politicians to always be presentable, to always instantly know what to do, and at the same time to be incredibly open with everyone. In short, we never want them to put a foot wrong, be off-message, or be consumed with anything other than constant public service. This, more than anything, is what is currently delivering us identikit politicians, overwhelming upper-middle or upper-class, with next to no experience other than from within political parties, all of whom look more or less the same and indeed, offer more or the less the same. They can deliver a speech brilliantly, pretend to empathise, emerge as brain-shatteringly normal or at least act like it, and pass the barbecue test, but none of this qualifies them in the slightest to actually run a country. Surely we ought to have learned this lesson by now, whether by the examples of either Bush or Blair, yet we seem more than ever to lap up the spin we so profess to detest while railing against the outsider, the abnormal, those who don't seem to fit in.
Surely the greatest example of how you don't always need to be of complete sound mind, even if you are, when in a position of such authority is Churchill. Everyone is aware of his life-long battle with depression, of the "Black Dog" as he called it, yet its effects did not prevent him from serving as arguably the greatest prime minister this country has ever had.
This is not of course to suggest that Brown is on anywhere near the same plain as Churchill; he quite obviously is not. Yet the whispering about his own mental ill-health, completely unsubstantiated, is designed to put the final nail in his coffin, to ostracise him completely, to persecute him for daring to be anything other than he really is. The political reality Brown has to face is that he never forced his hand early enough to force Blair out when he could still have averted Labour's apparent inexorable decline. However much some want to pin all the blame solely on his shoulders for the economic weather we are now facing, the main opposition party cannot even begin to explain what things it would have done differently to Labour, or what it would have cut or not funded to the same extent as that as Brown did. He has chosen the entirely wrong policies to pursue since becoming prime minister, such as 42 days detention and the expansion of the school academy system, not to mention the 10p tax rate debacle, but there is no evidence whatsoever, indeed, some to the contrary, that another leader would do any better. The Conservatives are heading back to power, but if they or their cyphers think that they'll earn any kudos for descending to the politics of the sewer, lower even than that which New Labour has at times sunk, then they are certainly sorely mistaken.
Lib Con - The 'Gordon Brown is insane' meme