If the candidates had been applying for the role of Sir Alan Sugar’s Apprentice, how would they have been viewed?
Charles Kennedy. Subjected to some sniping from David Dimbleby (who accused him of freaking out when his baby was born) but the audience gave him a warm round of applause the British reserve for plucky losers.
His performance in the Saddam Hussein and his WMDs task was the best of all the candidates as he exercised caution rather than charging in all guns blazing, he didn’t impress anyone with his alternative strategy of simply waiting for the people of Iraq to overthrow him – especially as the rebels were brutally crushed the last time they tried that trick.
After receiving criticism from one questioner who upbraided the ginger Scot for his lack of “charisma and dynamism” he rather meekly accepted the jibe in good humour. Another factor counting against Charles was his habit of making sweeping gestures with his arms like a sobbing, capricious teenager violently clearing the dinner table so he can rest his tear-sodden self-pitying head somewhere conspicuous.
On The Apprentice, Charles would have been Raj – very nice and pleasant but not really with a hope of ever winning the top prize.
Michael Howard. All of Michael’s work on a great range of policies was cast largely into oblivion as his interview almost concentrated solely on his abhorrent immigration dogma. After pinning a permanent smile on his face in the way sagging Welcome Home banners are hung over thoroughfares to welcome home heroic troops, Michael answered the first question with an answer which would have made Adolf Hitler proud, if not his mother. “If your family were still in their country of origin, would you let them into the UK?” he was asked. “I would do what is best for Britain,” was the calm reply.
During the interview, Michael brought up his time as Home Secretary of his own accord which was rather like Gary Glitter pulling out a photo album.
But almost as shameful was his belief that the invasion of Iraq was the correct course of action, even if he had been aware of the non-existence of WMDs. The ignorance of schools also counted against him, as Michael was under the delusion that bullies only exist in “poor” schools when they are as common as classrooms in any school. Also, he shifted and shaped his hands as though moulding an effigy of a poisonous snake.
On The Apprentice, Michael would have been Matthew – blundering and awkward with a unique talent for irritating people within a few minutes of being introduced.
Tony Blair. Despite currently being King of the Castle, Tony’s technique concentrated on being as down-to-earth as his inquisitors. “I don’t expect people to agree with me…” was one of his favourite ripostes that seemed to indicate that the views of those to whom he spoke carried as much political weight as his. But his favoured charming platitude was: “The interesting thing is…” as though he was nominating an objective perspective of the situation he was discussing when in reality it was his often discredited subjective opinion.
Tony also assumed an omniscient viewpoint on the £150bn spent in schools and hospitals as he “goes to see them all the time”, which of course didn’t tally with the personal tales of woe recounted by the audience, many of whose visits don’t miraculously coincide with a cauterising purification of the wards or classrooms.
And beads of sweat started to pour down his forehead like rats from their drowning nest when Tony was challenged that former students who went to university for free – like Mr Blair – should pay additional tax to help fund modern students. Also, Tony’s arms moved out to the audience and grasped as though trying to pluck their still-beating hearts from their chests, perhaps to replace his own rotten organ.
On The Apprentice, Tony would have been Saira for his curious mix of mendacity, ignorance of other views and a cogent way of speaking.