IT MUST be hard for David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, to wake up in the morning and be a good man. But this is not so for Gordon Brown, for whom being a good man is rather easy.
As we leave for work, Mr Brown is there on the doorstep, like a friendly neighbour, wishing us well. He genuinely hopes things will work out for us. Are we buying a house? Then he wants it to go through without a hitch. Is our child starting school? Then he is keen it will be a good experience. Is our elderly mother on an NHS waiting list? Then he is eager for a speedy resolution to the matter. And, if the crime rate has risen in our street, he is mortified.
Yes, like a caring, sharing friend, Mr Brown, as the man in power, wishes us well as we set off down the road.
The same cannot be said of Mr Cameron, however, who is unable to wish you well for the day. As Leader of the Opposition, the last thing he wants is for you to be enjoying life, or to be happy with the way things are. It is nothing personal; but his prospects are greatly enhanced if your house-buying is a nightmare, your child’s schooling appalling, and your elderly mother a victim of another tragic story of neglect, and if crime in your street reaches epidemic proportions. He needs disaster and misery. How else will he become Prime Minister?
Democracy promotes diseased thinking — it is one of the down-sides. Some people imagine that the parliamentary opposition party exists to call the Government to account. This is partly true. But what they are much more concerned with is the relentless demonisation of those in power, and the creation of dis-ease among the public.
They declare outrage at the latest calamity, and fury at how many people will be affected. But much greater than their outrage and fury is their delight: you can be sure they are giving each other high-fives off-camera. These are people for whom every disaster is a godsend, as the pain of others brings power closer to them. And why not? After all, they did not enter politics to remain in opposition. Only a fool would do that.
So it is hard for Mr Cameron to wish us well in the recession, or to celebrate any good news, because, to be honest, the job losses suit him well. He has to appear pained, while loving each new story of despair. The Tories must be against us; it is crucial that Mr Brown’s initiatives do not restore health, wealth, and happiness to the population. But then, opposition is by nature a negative presence: like a hyena in the scrubland, it promotes and feeds off fear and pain.
It is hard for Mr Cameron to wake up in the morning and be a good man, very hard. But he is far from alone in that struggle. Wish others well at my expense? That is as impossible as Easter.