Like most sentient human beings on this planet, I greeted the news that Barack Obama had been elected the new leader of the free world with a shiver of optimistic excitement.
The young, black US senator offers, in sharp contrast to the British political scene, such hope and promise that it’s impossible not to get carried away with the sense of anticipation and coming change.
But while America may have been waking up to a brave new dawn, back in Blighty, Gordon Brown looked like the morning after the night before in his typically stilted and stultifying televised congratulatory message.
No doubt the new American President was the recipient of one of Brown’s infamous early morning cold calls — luckily for Obama, the time zones worked in his favour because he was still up celebrating.
We can only hope that the new President-elect had a vague clue who this dour Scotsman was on the other end of the line, and that he didn’t think he was just a mate of that French Canadian disc jockey who fooled the Republican’s V-P candidate Sarah Palin, by calling her up and pretending to be Nicolas Sarkozy. In Brown’s defence, though, it is impossible to imagine anyone wanting to pretend to be him. I’m not even sure Brown himself bothers anymore.
Our Prime Minister is, of course, just one of the many world leaders who are anxious to bathe in the reflective glory of Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections and throughout December we’ll have the fun of watching them all lining up to beg to be the first to visit the Obama White House in January.
Putting cynicism aside, there is something spine-tingling about the choice that America has made when, only a few years ago, the black comedian Eddie Murphy bitterly joked about how white Americans could accidentally elect a black man as President and how he would have to deliver his inaugural speech while racing back and forth across the stage to dodge the snipers’ bullets. Now the reality is sinking in, that’s no laughing matter for Michelle Obama.
My real worry, however, is that Obama, with his soaring rhetoric and inspiring promise of hope, is just a bigger and better version of Blair ’97.
Think back to the heady days of May 1997 when Tony Blair promised so much and then, 10 years on, the disappointment over how little was achieved. With wars on two fronts and an economy sliding into the Atlantic seaboard, Obama has a tough task ahead.
We’ve had rock stars who want to be politicians and now we have politicians who want to be rock stars. I can’t help but remember that Tony Blair, once the guitarist in Ugly Rumours, turned out to be pretty rubbish at both jobs. Star quality is all very well but the only thing it delivers is the next day’s headlines. Fingers crossed that Obama can deliver more than just a tingle down our spines.
John Prescott has been busy telling the country, in a documentary series about class, how he’s been the victim of the class system all his life. Ah, will this be the same John Prescott who rose from working class roots and a job as a ship’s steward to become Deputy Prime Minister with a grace and favour country retreat complete with working croquet set?
Not to mention the fact that he’s earned a measly just-over-the-minimum-wage £360,000 in the past year from hisautobiography, a handful of speeches and his MP’s salary.
Yes, that glass ceiling really has held you back, hasn’t it, Prezza...?
The last time I enjoyed a personal encounter with Peter Mandelson was before he boarded the gravy train to Brussels, when he whisked away another cabinet minister who was chatting with me, while purring: “We don’t talk to HER.”
He might not talk to me, but he has invited me to enjoy a glass of warm Chardonnay and a canape at a reception to meet the new Business Secretary and his departmental team.
Following Mandelson’s unseemly spat with Shadow Chancellor George Osborne over their close personal relationships with the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s £80m yacht, I suggested that the only sure way of dealing with the likes of Mandy would involve a large clove of garlic and a stake through the heart.
I’m not up on my etiquette but I imagine that wearing a garland of garlic bulbs to the bash might be taking things a bit too far. Still, I’ll keep a wooden stake handy just in case the ideal opportunity arises.
Julia Hartley-Brewer is a columnist and assistant editor of the Sunday Express