The Fall of Gordonus Caesar by the sword of Maximus Rawnsley on Newsnight,

Watching former deputy prime minister  Jabba The Hut Prescott last night on Newsnight, blustering away, clearly furious that the Rawnsley ‘Revelations’ were about to assist in the immolation and final burial of Gordonus Caesar’s disastrous period of rule, was a surreal experience.

I started to imagine Andrew Rawnsley, dressed like Maximus in the famous film Gladiator, riding up and down the lines of his sources on Saturday night, the eve of the firestorm , the eve before publication of his book The End of The Party (available on Amazon and all good bookshops) – and exhorting them to ‘Unleash Hell’.

Far from unleashing hell, Rawnsley’s 24 carat sources appear to have done a runner. Jeremius Paxmanus, taking on the role of Cicero, put Maximus Rawnsley under pressure to name his sources… or rather more particularly, to drop Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, in the Merdus.

Rawnsley was, of course, as we say in Battersea…. A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupiA precipice in front, wolves behind (between a rock and a hard place)

Rawnsley could not, as an experienced and well regarded journalist, reveal his sources.  Paxmanus knew this. This allowed Jabba The Hut to froth and exclaim… “Rawnsley’s main source Abiit, excessit, evasit, erupitHe has left, absconded, escaped and disappeared.

As I drank my Rioja (Vinum bellum iucunumque est, sed animo corporeque caret – It’s a nice little wine, but it lacks character and depth) and listened to Jabba’s oration,  I was reminded of the maxim Ad captandum vulgusTo appeal to the crowd — often used of politicians who make false or insincere promises appealing to popular interest.

Paxmanus, unable to break Rawnsley on the crucifix of his advocacy, turned to the next obvious line of questioning… money. I was surprised that Paxmanus gave up so quickly… for normally the maxim...Verveces tui similes pro ientaculo mihi appositi suntI have jerks like you for breakfast…would have been most appropriate.

The subject of money, often dear to the hearts of departing failed politicians (come to that,  failed serving politicians as well) inspired Jabba The Prescott to crow to the baying crowd (Daniel Finkelstein, Lord Hattersley and Lord Steel) that Rawnsley had a book to sell.. forgetting that both he and his wife had been coining it in by flogging their ‘memoirs’.

The interview became more surreal when Paxmanus turned to two rather dull politicians from Jurassic Park. Hattersley pronounced and declaimed with the remarkable prescience of a man who achieved little himself in office but who had the wisdom of the ages… I almost expected him to proclaim… Verum et factum convertunturThe true and the made are interchangeable. One can know with certainty only what he have created himself but he didn’t.  He merely said that there were better issues to think about than the anger management problems of a prime minister which he seemed quite prepared to dismiss as par for the political course.

Lord David Steel, enobled for having told his Liberal Party to ‘go home and prepare for government’ tried to reprise the role Of Maximus Aurelius in Gladiator.  I imagined him saying to Maximus Rawnsley… “You have not seen what politics has become. I am dying, Maximus. When a man sees his end… he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come? Will I be known as the philosopher? The warrior? The tyrant…? Or will I be the Leader of the Liberal-Democrats who gave the party back her true self? There was once a dream that was Government. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.”

Finkelstein dismissed the whole matter of doubt and said that Rawnsley’s account is true – that the Westminster Village has known this for some time – and that, certainly, seems to be the case from even a cursory reading of Private Eye, Guido Fawkes and other political blogs.Politicians don’t, as they used to say in Dad’s Army – like it ‘Up ’em.’

The spectre of Brown, pictured on the backing set in the Newsnight studio, cast a pall of gloom – a phantasm of doom.

I end with advice for Gordonus Brown, the Labour Caesar who destroyed the vision of a society fair for all, with these words from Horace… Vis consili expers mole ruit sua

Brute force bereft of wisdom falls to ruin by its own weight. This maxim may also be interpreted ….Discretion is the better part of valor.

The Vox populi shall speak… very soon and I fear that it may not be for Gordonus Brown.


This from Iain Dale Blog  on Prescott – a must read…

How to Cope With a Bullying Prescott

PS… I will try and find some sensible Labour people to vote for… I have just moved to Battersea and have registered to vote… I shall see if the local Labour MP is vaguely sane, sensible, behaved on expenses etc… do I need to hide behind the sofa on this one?

4 thoughts on “The Fall of Gordonus Caesar by the sword of Maximus Rawnsley on Newsnight,

  1. It was indeed a surreal experience, I’m not sure whether the particular issue of Brown bullying is dear to the British heart, after all we praise bullying in other aspects. Look how we tune in ad nauseam to the bullying tactics of Simon Cowell, Suralan, Sir Alex F et al. The popularity of Big Brother was based on voyeuristic bullying. I don’t think he can fight this allegation, look what happened when Al Campbell went down this route with Gilligan and the ensuing meltdown that followed. That said Brown is not a modern leader and relies too much on control, or low form of dictatorship, it’s a failed leadership style and because he cannot lead with charisma (another failed tactic if applied alone – as we’ll see with Cameron) he’s left in the wilderness. I can’t help but think we are getting the politics we waited for, so consumed with individualism, we demand as a whole so much from politics and give so little. This was illustrated brilliantly in a scene from In the Loop where the politician goes from war room negotiations in Washington to constituent clinic about a dividing wall. Politics cannot operate in this way, it debases it’s self to the lowest common denominator and ends up as a simple game between politics and media to the loss of the country. I’ve recently been watching the ABC drama remake V which is a stunning allegory for modern political shallowness, and obviously a comment on Obamamania too, interesting themes not always executed well. So was The Wire a great social commentary on politics, education and the media when you levitated above the gun crime and street violence. I fear that the cycle is unlikely to break post Brown or post Labour, we will just continue the carousel started in the 80’s by Thatcher, refined by Clinton in the 90’s and carried forth by Blair in the noughties. Cameron is the heir to this dynasty, but that is not the best option. Labour had the opportunity to break the cycle in their second term, it was an open goal for radical reform and they blew it and one suspects it was Gordon that was the main one that held it back in the Treasury. It’s going to get worse, the best I can hope for is some form of hung parliament that forces a different dynamic to our politics.

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