Does Gordon Brown have the Midas touch?


by Rumbold
1st May, 2008 at 5:53 pm    

Phrases are often misused by those who do not understand their origins. ‘Midas touch’ exemplifies this trend. Nowadays it is used to describe someone for whom everything is going right. Gordon Brown is often held to have the opposite of the Midas touch, as everything he comes into contact with goes wrong (from sporting events to budgets). This misses the point of the mythological Midas story though, and the true meaning of the ‘Midas touch’ is of a gift that turned into a curse. It is meant to be a cautionary tale.

King Midas once entertained and sheltered a friend of Dionysus’ (who was the god of wine). As a thank you, Dionysus offered to grant Midas one wish; Midas wished that anything he touched would turn to gold. Dionysus reluctantly agreed, and Midas went merrily round turning everything into gold. But when he sat down to eat, Midas found that the food he picked up turned to gold, while the water and wine he tried to pour down his throat become liquid gold as soon as it touched his lips. Soon he was hungry and thirsty, and was willing to trade all his gold for some bread and water. Eventually Dionysus took pity on him, and told him how to get rid of the ‘Midas touch’. Midas later became a hippy.

This myth seems to me to have some interesting parallels with Gordon Brown’s premiership. By becoming prime minister, Gordon Brown achieved his heart’s desire, and everything went really well at first. He stepped out of Tony Blair’s shadow and became number one. Yet now everything is going wrong, and Gordon Brown does not look like he enjoys being a head of government. He does not like going abroad, or PMQs, or defending his subordinates when things go wrong. He seems as if he would be much happier in another role, and I suspect he would trade it all in for an opportunity to become chancellor again; power without the limelight. He has realised that his ‘heart’s desire’ is not that at all: he has the Midas touch.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: History






5 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs


  1. Sid — on 2nd May, 2008 at 12:13 am  

    This is good, very good.

  2. douglas clark — on 2nd May, 2008 at 12:39 am  

    Rumbold,

    That is the question that ought to be exercising Gordon Browns’ brain. Instead he seems to think 42 say detention is the bees knees.

    You’ve got to wonder…

  3. Sunny — on 2nd May, 2008 at 5:42 am  

    Hmmm.. its a good point, I’ll give you that.

    On the other hand, it may also be that once he gets to a point where doesn’t like it any more, he may become very bold and really push forward some radical proposals.

    The thing about Brown is also that he’s very much for stability. He can’t be enjoying the media onslaught… but at the same time it has to pass. The media cannot run with a narrative forever. Its the nature of the beast.

  4. Shuggy — on 2nd May, 2008 at 9:54 am  

    This is good, very good.

    Agreed – this is excellent, and your observation is absolutely spot on:

    He seems as if he would be much happier in another role, and I suspect he would trade it all in for an opportunity to become chancellor again; power without the limelight.

    Power without the limelight – and power without responsibility to a certain extent. Now he has no-one to take the flak, no-one to blame. It doesn’t help that his Cabinet is so spectacularly weak. Does anyone believe, for example, that Alistair Darling actually wrote the last Budget?

  5. Rumbold — on 2nd May, 2008 at 1:42 pm  

    Thanks everyone.

    Sunny:

    “On the other hand, it may also be that once he gets to a point where doesn’t like it any more, he may become very bold and really push forward some radical proposals.”

    Read Peter Oborne’s book and you will see why this is unlikely. Labour MPs are worried about losing their seats (because that is their money supply gone), so few of them will now support unpopular proposals.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.