Most Americans knew who Tony Blair was. Hardly anyone has a clue who Gordon Brown is. And most Britons are happy to keep it that way.
Are you familiar with the Peter Principle? It states that an employee who is good at their job will keep getting promoted until they are no good at their job. And that’s where they stay, one level above their competence. And entire businesses can be full of them.
They don’t all make it to Prime Minister though.
Gordon Brown would have been well remembered as a rather good Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man in charge of the money, who presided over growth, low inflation, low interest rates and low unemployment. But he wanted to be Prime Minister so badly. Indeed, he made a deal with Tony Blair when negotiating over the leadership of the Labour Party that Brown would support Blair in that position, if Blair would step down after a certain period of time for Brown to take over.
Blair, though, hung around longer than Brown would have liked, so Brown’s boys started briefing against Blair, and eventually Blair decided he'd had enough. So, he handed Brown the unopposed leadership of the Labour Party and the Prime Ministership of the country, as if he were doing no more than passing down a well-used pair of slippers.
What this means is that Brown has never been elected to that post, not even by his own party. He is an un-elected Prime Minister about to face the electorate. And they're not happy.
He’s a jowly, sullen, ashen-faced lumbering oaf who puts you in mind of Richard Nixon at his worst. He can’t seem to put a foot right. He is labelled a bully by the head of an anti-bullying charity line, with reports of him hitting advisers, pushing secretaries to the ground, smashing laser printers and throwing mobile phones at people in a rage. There are reports that he's on pills for depression. And everything he touches seems to turn to dust. He can't even praise a recycling company or simply visit a newsroom without triggering redundancies. He's a jinx of a Prime Minister.
He stated that Britain was well placed to weather the recession. It wasn’t. He sold Britain's gold reserves at the lowest point of the market, costing billions at today's prices. He couldn’t even spell the surname of a dead soldier correctly when writing to his mother.
And, according to polls, he looks in the running to be one of the shortest-standing Prime Ministers in British history. Even if there is a no overall majority and Labour does a deal with the Liberal Democrats to form a new government, the price will be, in all likelihood, Gordon's head.
But yesterday, he went to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament in readiness for a General Election. Because it had to happen eventually. The Queen must have felt like she was putting down one of her most miserable, sad, pathetic corgi dogs.
And yet… he's a statesman. He's a bruiser. He could probably have you in a fight in a pub carpark after closing. And Brits have this habit of falling for people like that, no matter how damaged. There's a possibility he might just cling on after all, gripping on with his bloody, gnarled fingers.
The polls are against him, but the difference has started to narrow as the election approaches.
As long as he remembers not to smile…
Next: His opponent David Cameron.
Rich Johnston lives in London, works in advertising, writes about comics and draws cartoons for the UK's leading political blog, Guido Fawkes. He'll vote for the first party that promises to legalise the smoking of squirrels for medicinal purposes.
Tags: Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), United Kingdom