David Mitchell’s own opinions are a bit right-on for me (right-on generally being the opposite of right, in either sense). But unlike the ordinarily right-on, he is prepared to countenance being mistaken, and frequently an acute critic. This bit of his latest Observer column is lucid and perfectly to the point:
Gordon Brown is either so short of ideas or so despises the electorate that he thinks the best way to demonstrate that the government is coping with the biggest business crisis in a century is to make it the responsibility of a man whose day job is telling self-regarding mediocrities that they should take off their Mexican hats before trying to put on their jumpers. A man who has made himself rich, but whose career as a tycoon has gone sufficiently quiet that he’s got time to do TV.
Top-end billionaires are too busy for that – Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson don’t have their own programmes, they have their own channels. Alan Sugar is no longer primarily a businessman – he portrays one on TV. Brown might as well have given the new tsardom to the bloke who played Boycie in Only Fools and Horses
What is even more depressing than Brown thinking that this might impress people is that the Tories, the only plausible alternative government, agree.
Sir Alan’s TV role is caricature capitalism. (Am I the only one who hears the the Fry & Laurie Dammit sketch, itself mocking business-set melodrama, when the apprentices talk?) It is alarming if the Tories think that the public might think that the appointment is any more than more window-dressing, and more alarming that they are engaging in manoeuvres to reinforce that impression. They should be mocking a Government that holds reality TV to be a model for reality.
But what if both Mitchell and I and all the other cynical commentators are wrong, and the Conservatives are wisely containing a real threat? What if the public is impressed?