The wrong brand of politics

Matthew Reeves compares and contrasts the brands of: Google, British politics, and the homeless.

I was on my way home last night when I was approached by a poorly dressed man, who appeared from an alleyway between a Chinese and an Indian takeaway. I suspected he was about to ask if I had any spare change. This is the part where many people fall down with a pitch you've heard hundreds of times before. After a quick pat of the jeans pockets, I'm on my way. But there was something about this man which held my attention. When he spoke, it was with an accent that made Brian Sewell sound common. "Hello! I am so very sorry, you do not have access to a one litre petrol can do you?" He had me hooked. I cannot overemphasise how posh he sounded. He could well have had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the equestrian arts, learnt at Eton College, Oxbridge. Before I could pat my pockets for that petrol can I sometimes carry, he interjected, "I know I must sound doolally but you see, she left it running". I was entranced. Who was this mysterious "she" and what had she left running? Was a litre going to be enough? I mean, he really was quite flustered. I told him that, alas, I'd left my petrol can at home.

"Well in that case, could you possibly spare any contributions towards a litre of unleaded petrol?"

I couldn't invest - his business wasn't even green. Although he left the den empty handed, he had impressed me. For a while I was convinced that he was eighth in line to the throne. Perhaps he did have a PhD in blood sports with swan management and here he was, begging to buy his first stately home. Remember that the first rule of being rich is not to work. If he wasn't part of the idle aristocracy then he was a marketing genius and should have been working for Google or Apple.

Google and Apple are curious companies. One is a gateway to more degrading filth than could possibly fit on any top self, the other allows you to watch it all on the bus. Yet, somehow, they are the coolest brands I can think of. In my mind the staff go to work in pyjamas. They don't have an office - it's a big kind of floating play zone above the clouds where everyone eats sushi. There are no working hours and the only job description is "enjoy". In reality, I'm sure the office is staffed by intensively farmed computer programmers, miserably punching code into tiny monitors which blink back at them the pointlessness of their own existence until their fingers are tiny stubs and their brains are completely googled. I don't want to believe that because the branding men have done such a good job.

But even the prestidigitators of Silicon Valley would have a hard task with our Prime Minister's brand. When someone says "Gordon Brown" I think of textured wallpaper and dust. I'd like to believe that the idea of Brown as a bully is a clever marketing tool to make the tired hound look like he still has something to live for - even if it's just scaring the shit out of civil servants. But I'm afraid I can't believe it. Ask yourself, what kind of mammal could possibly be bullied by a man who has the face of a melting walnut, and who is less popular than Ashley Cole? And if they are afraid of him, just what sort of civil service are we running? How on earth can they cope with the threat of global terrorism if they're fightened by a gurning son of the manse. This isn't, by the way, a spot of labour bashing. For the record, David Cameron has a face which looks like its been taken out of the oven prematurely and is, if possible, even less imposing.

British politics feels like an under watered pot plant slowly dying on sunlit window sill. I know it's there somewhere but I can't bring myself to watch. The whole of business badly needs a new brand. Maybe they should look to hire my mysterious marketing genius but first they'd need to find him a can of petrol.

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