The party’s over; it’s time to call it a day …….

It always ends in tears.  Gordon Brown had been at the top of British Politics for 20 years and now he’s gone.  Not only did he resign as Prime Minister, he ruled himself as leader of The Labour Party and said he would step down as MP.  Suddenly people are kinder about him.  Words such as dignified and honourable are being used.  He was a sensitive politician, who felt passionately about poverty and deprivation.  He was acknowledged by the G20 as a world economic leader.  And now the King is dead.  Although there may be sense of relief for a time (Gordon Brown talked about politics being his second most important responsibility), leaders always struggle with life after politics and many are unhappy for the rest of their lives. When Ted Heath lost the leadership of the Conservative Party to Margaret Thatcher, he went into the longest sulk in political history.  Winston Churchill was devastated by what he saw as the electorate’s betrayal.  Clemmie advised him to think of it as a blessing in disguise.  His response was typically Churchillian;  ‘Yes, but it’s certainly very disguised.’ 

These men had devoted the majority of their lives to an idea encompassed by a position of power and influence.  It had become their identity and meaning.  Without it, life had no purpose.  How could anything replace it?   Something that was all consuming was no longer there.  The sense of grief must have been overwhelming; it would be difficult to know how to carry on.   

This doesn’t just apply to politics, of course, or indeed any job.  It is found after the loss of anything or anybody, who had occupied so much meaning in one’s life.  It’s the loss of meaning that’s the thing.  People in the armed forces during the war found it difficult to cope with peacetime.  Those who fall in love and lose it can grieve for years.  It may not be  the person they miss, but what they meant, the way that relationship had transformed their lives.  It’s the same kind of thing that married couples experience when one of them dies, the same thing when a child dies; all that investment and hope in a future suddenly taken away.  

Gordon has two lovely blonde- haired little boys.  He is a fun dad.  It’s to be hoped that Sarah and the family will restore the meaning.